Let the children come to me…
Psalm 51 (the great penitential Psalm) offers us a way to approach God when we have made mistakes…
Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. * In your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt * and cleanse me from my sin.
My offenses truly I know them; * my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; * what is evil in your sight I have done…
As I was praying this Psalm the other day, my mind went to an image of my son, Joshua, saying his nighttime prayers.
He usually starts his prayers with the sign of the cross, then prays the Our Father, a Hail Mary, the Glory Be, then the rest of his prayer time depends on how the “Spirit” is moving him. However, he always ends his prayers by telling Jesus that he is sorry for all the bad choices he has made that day (together we try to come up with 1 or 2 specific examples-depending on the kind of day he has had); he tells Jesus what he is thankful for (this comes much easier; then, tells Jesus good-night & that he loves Him.
Joshua’s prayers are quite simple, but right on target. I am not saying they are perfect, but I think as adults, we can certainly learn from his style. Let me offer a few reflective questions for your, and my own use:
- Do I pray every night before I go to sleep?
- Do I make an act of contrition – not just a rote memorization, but actually look back over the day & tell Jesus I am sorry for the “bad choices” I have made? Aren’t sins really the “adult” word for “bad choices?”
- Do I thank God for all the gifts and blessings of the day? There is always something to be thankful for…
- Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus? So much so, that it is natural for me to say “Goodnight” to Him?
- Again, do I have the kind of personal relationship with Jesus, that I am comfortable with and it is natural for me to tell Him that I love Him?
Yes, we can learn a lot from children. Often times the lessons we teach children are not meant for them alone. “Let the children come to me…for to such belongs the Kingdom of God!”