Children know how to be thankful, how to offer an unexpected word of praise
“Out of the mouths of infants and children your majesty is praised above the heavens.” Psalm 8
At bedtime, there is always a struggle. As I watch my daughter climb the bed for the umpteenth time, dumbfounded at how she could muster the strength as she shouts “AGAIN!” there is often this moment when I wonder when the rest will come.
Then I remember and I say:
“It’s time for prayers.”
She climbs up the bed one last time, puts herself in position, and waits.
“Now I lay me down to ____” (sleep! she shouts)
“I pray the Lord my soul to ___” (keep!)
“For all the good while I’m ____” (awake!)
“I pray that God my thanks will ____” (take!)
Then, we start with the blessings. I list family members, caretakers, friends, the people she’s met throughout the day. As I say their names, she repeats them with an exclamation point, albeit with reduced gusto as the prayer continues. Eventually, we come to her favorite part: prayers of thanks. She says:
Thank you, God, banana store! (For her trips to the grocery store).
Thank you, God, racer! (For the stroller that carries her when she is tired).
Thank you, God, mama daddy!
Bedtime is the highlight of my day. My daughter consistently finds expressions of praise for God that would never occur to me.
Out of the mouths of babes we encounter this instinctual gift that even the youngest of children can have. They know how to be thankful, how to offer an unexpected word of praise, how to utter sincere gratitude to a God they meet in even the simplest of moments, even in a racer, even at a banana store.
In this simple nighttime ritual, our tiny, growing slice of heaven teaches us new facets of praise.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory, O God. May we praise you with timbrels, gongs, clanging cymbals and even exclamation points, too. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Minister of The Table, United Church of Christ of La Mesa, California.