By Elisa Teller
Have you ever been in a worship service and seen a child worshiping with hands raised and heart abandoned? Have you ever heard the simple prayer of a child, “I love you God?” There is something special about simplicity in prayer. The prayers of children bring innocence and a simple faith to worship. Their presence edifies the church body by bringing unassuming hearts to a complex world.
Consider the story of St. Thomas Aquinas, who after completing his thesis on the Eucharist recalls the voice of Christ asking him, “What should your reward be?” Famously he responded, “Only you Lord, only you.” In a way, Thomas’ words were distinctively childlike, yet they held great power. The simple words, “Only you Lord,” spoke more to his situation than a thousand words could say.
When writing, it can be easy to get caught up in the complexity of God and his interaction with humanity. The intricacies of theology can bring richness in writing and new insights to worship; however, at times a simple phrase is all that is needed to be offered to the Lord. In a year when we have all been affected by COVID-19, when we are surrounded by so many voices and troubling circumstances, a simple faith that says, “I want you, Lord. I trust you, Lord,” can be enough. Sometimes these simple phrases hold more meaning than a long theological phrase. In Matthew 18:2-6 Jesus said,
Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Prayers of children teach us about the kingdom of heaven. They teach us to receive from Christ without question or uncertainty, and they are often full of faith and wonder. We see this evidently in Luke 1:34-38 when the angel Gabriel informs Mary she will give birth to the Messiah. She responds, “How will this be? Then humbly responds to his explanation, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” When we learn to pray like children, we learn to receive Christ even when we don’t fully understand. We learn to recognize His voice and find joy in the simple things in life.
May this be an encouragement to you, to look to the simplicity and innocence of a child when writing music. Learn to recognize the kingdom of God through the voices of those who have not fully matured. Let them shape the way you see God—as one who delights in simplicity. Together we can welcome Jesus as we welcome the voices of children in prayer.