Pray Like a Child
About the Guest
How's your prayer life? Paul Miller, author of The Praying Life, reminds us of how dependent Jesus was on his heavenly Father, even to the point where he said he did nothing on his own. As Jesus prayed then, so must we, coming to God with childlike faith. A special guest is Paul's mute autistic daughter, Kim.
Paul Miller reminds us how dependent Jesus was on his heavenly Father, even to the point where he said he did nothing on his own.
Pray Like a Child
Bob: If you could list three things that would transform your prayer life, what would those three things be? Here’s how Paul Miller would answer that question.
Paul: I’m almost tempted to say: “Pray like a child, pray like a child, pray like a child.” It is the principal cure for cynicism in our educated, wealthy age, where money can do exactly the same thing prayer does without any hassle. In our work-oriented culture / our success-oriented culture, to become like a little child is the most elusive thing in the Christian life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll spend some time today looking at what it means to pray like a child. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You noticed all these index cards our guest has got with him?
Dennis: I have, and some of them look ancient.
Bob: I have been looking at them, thinking, “Dude, get a computer.” You know? I mean, you need an iPhone®. You’ve got all these—
Dennis: Let’s get to that. Paul Miller joins us again on FamilyLife Today, and we’re talking about prayer. That’s right—prayer. These cards have something to do with that topic. He has written a book called A Praying Life. Tell us about the cards, Paul.
Paul: Just the idea of the card—they are very unsophisticated—it is just a 3x5 card. The nice thing about a card, as opposed to a list, is that—like every one of my children, every one of my grandkids / my wife have three or four cards—can have a card. I can write Scripture on them. I can pray thoughtfully for their whole life.
Like my card for my son, Andrew—I started this when he was in eighth grade. I’m praying for his friends / good friends that would love Jesus—Psalm 51 / that he would desire truth in the inward parts. I was praying for sports with him / his academics—I had some questions. I was praying for his relationship with his sister. It is sort of a way of praying for a child, or a group, or a problem—sort of the whole situation.
Bob: How old is Andrew now?
Paul: He is 25.
Bob: Well, isn’t it time to put a new card in there? You are not still praying for sports and his friends in junior high.
Paul: Well, some of the cards I kind of get fond of [Laughter] because God—I showed this—I had never shown this card to Andrew. He came to a prayer seminar that I did in Harrisburg. I said, “Andrew, here is your prayer card.” I said, “Would you want to get up in front of the audience and just talk about it?” He got up, and he couldn’t talk. He was so moved by what God had done in answer to those prayers.
Dennis: To that point, you believe that some of the issues you would leave on these cards might be a 20-, 30-, or 40-year assignment —
Paul: Yes, yes.
Dennis: — from God to you, as a father, to pray for a boy who becomes a young man / a man.
Dennis: Some of those issues may linger, in other words
Paul: Absolutely. Here is my card for Emily. When she was six years old, both Jill and I noticed her love of the finer things of life. Oddly enough, the thing we noticed this with—we had a minivan—a Dodge® minivan that died. We replaced it with a real dumpy old Ford® station wagon. Emily, more than any other kid, mourned the loss of that Dodge minivan. You would think that a Dodge minivan doesn’t usually go with—you usually don’t put it in the same sentence as “the finer things in life.” [Laughter]
But, you know, we were—our finances were such that that Dodge minivan was the finer things. It was the newest we’d ever had in a new car. Emily really kept—you know: “Can’t we get another Dodge? You know—that minivan?” She was just—
So, I began praying for her, knowing that was going to be a 20-year prayer time. I prayed from I John 2: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The more I prayed that—talking about persistent prayers—I have probably prayed this prayer three or four thousand times. I don’t know—I would have to do the math on it. In fact, the more I prayed this for Emily, the worse it got because enter her teen—so we were going backwards! I just kept praying this.
Bob: Does she still like the finer things in life?
Paul: Yes, she still does; but she has such a heart for God—she really does.
One of the keys—and remember, we were going backwards in our praying. In fact, in my prayer card—oh, in 2002: “Help me to move towards her.” I mean, I was sort of the typical teenage dad—you know just: “Dad is an idiot.”
Dennis: You were feeling like you were really in a major disconnect during the most dangerous years in your daughter’s life.
Paul: Not just major—she was treating me really badly. So, I just prayed, “Help me to move towards her.” I did not know how to do it—I just kept loving her. I even took her on a couple trips with me. I took her on a trip to San Diego. Everything was going south in her life in terms of her relationship with God. In her senior year, she had been accepted at a couple of good Christian colleges, and Jill suggested to her that she take a year off and work as a missionary.
She prayed about it / decided to do it—and went to Guatemala for a year. God did nothing but bring her to Himself during that year.
Paul: It was just great.
Bob: You have cards for Jill?
Dennis: Multiple cards?
Bob: You said you have more than one for her; right?
Paul: Yes; right.
Bob: So, can you tell us what is on any of them?
Paul: Oh sure. One of my favorite cards is—well, here is one on Jill’s pressures. I have this Scripture from Philippians 2—that she would be “a child of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” One of her pressure points was when she was a Special Ed teacher—she is now retired. Someone came up to her in her school—unbeliever / this is a secular, public school—and said, “You light up this whole place.”
This happens to me all the time, where the very language I am praying will come—I’m praying that she will be light in the world; and someone comes to her and says, “You light up this whole place.”
Bob: That’s cool.
Dennis: And there are a lot of other cards [lying] here on the table. You’ve got a stack—one stack that’s an inch.
Paul: Well, that’s because I’m so messed up! Dennis, I am so desperate that I need to pray over everything in my life.
Bob: I’m just afraid he’s going to make a card for me after he leaves: “Help Bob to pray better than he does now.” [Laughter]
Paul: You know, Bob, some things are just “Mission Impossible.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Now, see there? There’s the cynicism! [Laughter] There’s the cynicism.
Paul: Here’s another card I have for Jill. That is just a card—is my first card—is just thanking God for things in her life. You know, part of our fallen condition is we become critical. Our frame on our spouse gets negative. So, I just begin my praying for Jill by thinking of things—I’ll just look at that card—just think of things I’m thankful for.
About every month or so, I’ll think of something new just to kind of reorient me.
Dennis: Okay, we are going to do something really special here in a moment. But let’s say there is a mom, listening right now, and she is saying, “You know, I want to just teach my children, as they are growing up, what Paul Miller would say would be the three most important things I should be teaching them.” Would you give her the ABC’s of what a parent should teach his or her children about prayer?
Bob: One of them is praying like a child; isn’t it?
Paul: Yes. I am almost tempted to say, “Pray like a child, pray like a child, pray like a child.” It is the principal cure for cynicism. In our educated, wealthy age, where money can do exactly the same thing prayer does without any hassle, to become like a little child is the most elusive thing in the Christian life.
Here is just an encouragement on it—Jesus is asking us to become like He is with that because He is like a child.
Dennis: What do you mean by that?
Paul: Just listen to this—this is John 5:19—and think of how old this person is—this is Jesus talking: “I do nothing on my own. I do just what I see my Father doing.” That is a child—that is someone with a child-like heart. He can’t do life on His own. So, to learn how to be a child—just to continually go back because what we forget—is we forget the welcoming heart of God.
I would say—actually, probably the biggest thing that mother can do is for herself to have that child-like spirit with God—
Paul: —and to remember that God wants her to come. Jesus doesn’t say, “Come to Me all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, and I will answer your prayer requests.” He says, “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden.”
So, come to Jesus with your mind distracted—you come angry; you come cynical; you come frustrated; you come as you are—that is what it is to be a child.
Bob: Again, we are back to the issue of dependence.
Bob: Children are fully dependent on their parents for everything.
Paul: Yes; yes.
Bob: The older you get, the more independent you get.
Bob: Jesus is saying: “Go back to when you were dependent. Recognize that, acknowledge that, and live like that.”
Paul: Yes, yes. “Live like that.”
Dennis: You know, I think that is such a good reminder. It is not just what we teach them by what we say—it is what we are doing, what we are experiencing, and what the reality is in our own lives. Those are great words.
Now, here is the treat. Your daughter, Kim, who is autistic—and we have talked about a number of times this week—has been out in the area, listening to us, here in the studio, but—
Bob: She has actually been kind of ignoring us and watching a movie, but she is here with us; right?
Dennis: Yes. Explain to our listeners, before we bring Kim in, what is going to take place here.
Paul: Kim and I are going to tell a story together, or I will probably ask her some questions as we go through it. You will hear her mechanical voice. She uses a speech computer to talk with. You will hear some clicking, and then you will hear her voice talk. She is pretty fluent. She has a great sense of humor. You might hear her laughing in the background too, but that is Kim.
Bob: Well, we have got Kim, who has joined us here in the studio. She has got her computer—her speech computer—with her. So, Kim, welcome to the program. It is nice to have you here.
Kim: [Inaudible natural voice]
Bob: Yes. You said—
Dennis: Do you want to say, “Hi”? Do you want to say, “Hi,” to the folks who are listening on FamilyLife Today?
Kim: [Computerized voice] Hi.
Bob: There we go!Have you ever been on the radio before?
Bob: Well, we are glad to make this your broadcast debut. Paul, do you want to explain the story you and Kim are going to tell us?
Paul: Kim and I were travelling to Florida together. I decided to give Jill a break over Mother’s Day weekend and take Kim on a speaking engagement that I had down in Florida. We were flying down to Tampa out of the Philadelphia airport. Kim started rummaging through her book bag as soon as we got out of the car. What did you find Kim?
Kim: I fro jet my book.
Paul: I fro jet my book, which is “forget” for the rest of us.
Bob: Yes; right.
Paul: And what was your response, Kim, when you realized that mom had not packed your book?
Paul: Frustrated. [Laughter] Kim started a low-level whine. We walked over to the bus compartment. I had Kim’s suitcase / my suitcase; and I had this big box that said “See Jesus” on it. There were 15 people there. Kim, what were you doing while we were waiting at the bus stand?
Paul: You were complaining fairly loudly. [Laughter]
Dennis: I wish our listeners right now could see Kim’s face. She is just beaming/smiling—looking at you, listening to you, and having her tell the story.
Paul: Right. Because I was—she was frustrated. I was so embarrassed. I had this big word-written sign that said, “See Jesus”; and I looked like an idiot. [Laughter]
Kim: Frustrated. [Laughter]
Paul: It was only later on I actually realized, “Well, that is kind of how you see Jesus.”
Then, Kim actually brightened up when we were finally getting on the bus. I was trying to get Kim, this box, and our suitcases on. What happened, Kim? In the middle of trying to get all this stuff on the bus, what happened?
Kim: The bus driver closed the door.
Paul: Kim has been whining for ten minutes now. What stops her whining is seeing dad getting nailed by the bus door. [Laughter] Kim thinks that is funny; alright?
Dennis: She thinks it’s funny now too.
Paul: Yes, she thinks it is funny now too. She has a big grin on her face. [Laughter]
Then, we got to the terminal. There was this huge line at the US Air thing, where we were.
Paul: So, we went upstairs to security. As soon as we got there, like magic, they closed one of the security things and combined two lines.
Paul: Kim, what did you start doing again in front of all these—in this line at security?
Paul: Yes, that would be mild. That is probably the mildest description of what you were doing. The nice thing is that Kim hates to get in lines. So, she starts nudging her way forward. So, we actually cut in front of a few other people.
Bob: Push. [Laughter]
Paul: Then, we got to the scanners. [Laughter] The man said to you, “Put your speech computer on the conveyer belt.” What did you tell him?
Kim: “It is my Pathfinder.”
Paul: You actually said: “It is my voice. It is my voice.” You would not give it up! I yanked it out of Kim’s arm. I am tense and frustrated—and run it through. We are late. We have about 20 minutes to get to our gate.
Then, I find out it is one terminal over. I thought “Can I run with Kim and these boxes and stuff?” I threw myself in front of this little cart—this little thing that carried people around. He cut us a break. Then, we were headed off to this terminal in this little cart. Then, what happened on the way?
Kim: The man talk phone—the man talk the phone.
Paul: Yes, a man was talking on his cell phone, going down the long “B” ramp, just lolly-dawdling around. Our cart was behind him, beeping. Kim, now, who has been complaining this whole time, starts smiling again. She thinks it is funny that I am frustrated at this slow guy. Anyway, we get to the plane / get on the plane. Then, over the intercom, the stewardess says what?
Kim: “Turn off.”
Paul: “Turn off all electronic devices.” Kim refuses. She is fully-electronic, at this point.
Paul: She has got a tape book she is listening to. She has got her Pathfinder speech computer.
Kim won’t turn it off. The stewardess comes by, and she starts arguing with the stewardess about turning it off. [Laughter]
Bob: She is arguing on her speech computer?
Paul: Oh, yes! Yes. So, anyway—finally, Kim turns it off. And then, over the intercom—and Kim hates waiting because of the autism—the pilot says:—
Paul: He says we have to wait. We are twelfth in line for takeoff. Kim cannot even see the plane ahead of us. At that point, you did what, Kim?
Paul: We actually had a meltdown, at that point, which is—probably the rear third of the plane knew that we were not really happy, at that point.
Paul: I am just sitting there, thinking—you just, as a parent, you have these things all the time—I was thinking, “I will never do this again.” You know, “This was a huge mistake.” It was sort of like, “What is the point?” A lot of times—in parenting, spousing, or whatever it is—you know, you come to that very clear conclusion.
Part of the theme of the book is to begin to pull back and look at the stories. As I thought about it—that weekend—I thought: “Here, I pray regularly,”—I have got several prayer cards for humility—“Here is God answering my prayer for humility.” It is part of God wanting me to draw into the life of His Son. So, part of a praying life is beginning to see these patterns and these stories—
Paul: —that God is doing—whether it is as simple as, you know, Kim learning with the spilled milk-thing—that is sort of a mini-version of what this was a larger version of.
Bob: Kim, do you like travelling with your dad?
Bob: Why do you like it?
Kim: No work tomorrow.
Bob: No work?
Paul: No work tomorrow—or today! [Laughter] Also—why else do you like traveling, Kim?—any other reasons?
Kim: I love see Harry Potter again tomorrow.
Paul: That’s right, I said Kim could read her Harry Potter—Kim could read her Harry Potter book if we did well on the trip.
Dennis: You know, one of the stories I have heard you tell was praying for a job or a career for Kim?
Paul: Right; yes
Dennis: That took some faith. Why don’t you set her up to let her tell what she does?
Paul: With her job? Well, could I—do I have time to tell a quick story on how she even got the job? It really was neat.
We tried everything, and nothing worked. We finally got a job at Blockbuster which, with Kim’s love of movies, is a little bit like an alcoholic getting a job serving alcohol at a bar. [Laughter]
Paul: We lost our temper one day and got fired. We have been praying for this for five years.
We were six weeks away, and Jill went into our printer’s. The printer asked Jill, “Hey, did Kim ever get a job?” Jill said, “No.” The printer said, “Let me make a phone call.” And, six weeks from graduation, Kim got a job working at a kennel. She worked there six years. What do you do now Kim?
Kim: I am walking different dogs now.
Paul: Yes. You walk different dogs where?
Kim: I am walking different dogs now.
Paul: Where do you walk them? Not in a kennel, but where?
Kim: Different houses.
Paul: Yes, in different houses. And you do a great job at that.
Dennis: So, people have hired her—
Dennis: — to help take care of their pets and take them for a walk in the neighborhood?
Paul: That’s right. Yes.
Dennis: But you would consider that to be a major answer to prayer for Kim.
Paul: I mean, just statistically, I would think 98-99 percent of people with Kim’s level of disability do not have regular employment.
Paul: It is just there are just so many barriers to that. It is really one of the hardest things to do.
Dennis: And, Kim, how does it make you feel to be able to walk other people’s dogs?
Kim: I am happy.
Paul: Yes. One quick little thing—one of the things, when we weren’t getting anywhere with our job search for Kim—I started saying: “What the heck? I am going to make this prayer bigger. I am going to pray for Kim’s calling—that she would bless people.” You know?
Paul: When you are up against the wall and nothing is happening, why not ask for the whole enchilada? Actually, we’re sitting in an answer right now.
Dennis: I was getting ready to say that if you didn’t.
Paul: Yes. Well, go ahead and say it.
Dennis: I think, Kim, that you’ve really blessed a lot of people here—
Dennis: —because you’ve blessed Bob, and me, and your dad. I just want to say, “Thank you for being on FamilyLife Today.”
Kim: Thank you.
Dennis: You’re welcome.
Bob: And Paul, thank you, as well, for not only for bringing Kim and introducing us to her, but for the book and for how you’ve instructed us and counseled us in this important discipline in our growing relationship with our Father.
Dennis: I want to ask Kim one last question. Kim, this was your first ever radio broadcast. Do you think you have a future in radio?
Kim: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, I’ll tell you what—I think both of you have a future here any time you are available to be with us on FamilyLife Today. Thanks again. And let me remind listeners about Paul’s book, which is called A Praying Life. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and click in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, where it says, “GO DEEPER.” You’ll find information about Paul’s book available there. You can order it from us, online, if you’d like; or you can call1-800-FL-TODAY and order the book over the phone. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or the phone number is 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” The title of the book is A Praying Life. When you place the order, we’ll get it sent out to you.
By the way, we’re hoping that FamilyLife Today listeners will join with fellow listeners, from across the country, who are signing up for our 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. I just want to throw the gauntlet down for those of you who have not signed up. Why don’t you join with us and take 30 days, during the month of September, and pray with your spouse every day? It takes a couple of minutes.
We will make it easy for you. When you sign up for the prayer challenge, we will send you a prayer prompt each day—via text message, or email, or through the My FamilyLife app—we’ll remind you to pray. We’ll give you something to pray about. Let’s see if we can’t cultivate this as a spiritual discipline in our marriages. Go to our website to sign up. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link in the upper left-hand corner that says, “GO DEEPER,” and sign up for the Oneness Prayer Challenge.
While you’re there, if you can help with a donation of any amount to support FamilyLife Today, we would love to hear from you. We are about to close the books on our fiscal year. We’re hoping that, here in the last week of August, we will hear from listeners who would help us finish this year in a healthy place. Your donation today will help make that happen. When we hear from you, we’d love to send you, as a thank-you gift, the book from Dennis and Barbara Rainey called Two Hearts Praying as One. It’ll help you as you pursue the 30-day Oneness Prayer Challenge during the month of September.
You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I care,” to make an online donation. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate over the phone. You can also request the book and mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today, POBox 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear from the director and one of the co-stars of the new movie, War Room—that comes out this weekend. Alex Kendrick is going to be here to talk about how important prayer is—in fact, that’s the theme of the movie. We’ll hear from Alex tomorrow. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team, with special help today from Mark Ramey. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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