Last night as I was putting Hannah to bed, I sang her the Lord’s Prayer. When I finished, she touched my cheek and asked, “Who taught you that song, Mama?”
“I learned it in church when I was a little girl,” I told her. I remembered the majestic feeling of the Lord’s Prayer sung together as a congregation. I grew up Catholic, and most of the church services I remember from youth were long, dry, and boring. Singing the Lord’s Prayer was always a treat because we joined hands as we sang, the crescendo of the piece building until the crash of “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,” followed by the softening words “now and forever, amen.” Even as a very young girl, the spirituality of singing this usually spoken prayer touched me.
“I haven’t learned that song in church,” Hannah continued. I went on to explain that I didn’t go to Trinity when I was a little girl, that I went to a different church in Oklahoma, but it got me to thinking about the prayer traditions we share with our children and how those little traditions follow us throughout life.
Our little family has always prayed before meals. When Sarah was five, we started praying together at night before bed. Hannah will join in this tradition soon (though singing might be her introduction to bedtime prayers). As Sarah matures, so does our discussion of prayer. I’ve shared with her my informal ways of praying as well as the formal prayers we’ve memorized. We talk about praying for gratitude, for peace, for other people, for help, for protection.
As we grow older, we come to understand both the majesty and intimacy of prayer. The prayers we say (or sing) together in church are a large part of this, but the prayers we say in our hearts are majestic in their own small way.
“We don’t learn prayers just in church,” I told Hannah. “Prayers are everywhere.”
“That’s right,” Hannah agreed, “because God is everywhere, and people are everywhere, so prayers are everywhere, too.”
Yes, honey. Yes, they are.
This story was shared with me by a woman named Carolyn whose spouse attended one of my workshops.