I have a daughter who is eight years old and almost nine.
She loves to sing – especially along with Zoe Group music in our car – and loves to say grace at the table.
She says the sweetest prayers at bedtime, even though she no longer asks God’s blessing for each child in her grade at school by name.
She feels that she is too big for piggyback prayers at bedtime now, since her 12-year-old, 104-pound brother is.
I miss those piggyback prayers. They were such a great reminder to me that I carry my children in prayer to the Father, and I bear responsibility for their spiritual formation.
My daughter is getting away from the stock prayer-phrases that she hears in chapel at her school, which is hosted in our church building. She’s starting to really pray now, asking specifically about friends of hers that are sick or having some kind of problem – no matter how small – and she has that unshakeable childlike faith that God will hear her and take care of it.
In fact, her brother’s bedtime prayers are still pretty dependent on those phrases that he and the other boys use in chapel prayers. I have faith he’ll come around and put his own thoughts into his own words. Still ….
My daughter won’t be leading prayers in chapel.
I understand the whys and wherefores and precedents and policies and frets and fears. I’ve been warned all my life about all kinds of slippery slopes, and I have even seen some prove to be treacherous.
But unless something happens soon; unless someone dares to find out whether the slope is slippery – or if it even is a slope or just a magical-house-on-the-hill optical illusion ….
My sweet daughter may not have the experience of being a channel of God’s blessing to others through her prayer – except at home. Like her mother, whose heart is as wide and deep as eternity itself, she may never feel the touch of a grateful hand on her shoulder or hear the encouragement of a brother or sister who was strengthened by her prayer … or the song she led … or the thoughts she shared at the Lord’s table … or her heartfelt interpretation of a scripture she read … or her story about Jesus, as only a girl or a woman can picture Him.
She’ll read in her Bible about a woman in Sychar of Samaria who shared the first gospel message in scripture; about a sick woman who confessed her faith by touching Jesus’ garment; about Joanna and Susanna, who were the first to support His ministry; about Mary of Magdala, who was first to tell the apostles about the risen Lord; about Lydia who was among the first to host a church in the home; about Euodia and Syntyche and Priscilla and Claudia and how many others.
But her name may never be added to a list that anyone else reads; an order of worship or a roster of leaders.
The prospect of it makes me profoundly sad.
I’m convinced that the way things are now can’t be the way things were then.
And that the slant of the way things are built now is the only thing that makes the slope we’re on look normal and flat and safe.