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Primary – vain repetitions

There was a classic moment in Sunday school today, where Teresa and I teach the eight-year-olds. We were talking about hypothetical situations involving being kind to others. After the kids failed with all the wrong answers, exhibiting their tendencies toward revenge, Teresa asked, “How should you really act in that situation?” Realizing the answer, one of the girls stuck out her bottom lip and said in a low voice, ‘Like Jesus.” It’s interesting to note the disparity between the ways we know we should act if we want to be happy and the ways we choose to act and the cognitive dissonance associated therewith.

I had a thought in Primary. I wonder if we’re reinforcing bad habits when we teach children the model of prayer based on “We thank thee … we ask thee … ” There’s nothing wrong with that model alone except that it excludes “we tell thee …” If prayer is nothing more than thanking God and asking God, there’s no real accountability in it, which is the true purpose of prayer, not to change God’s will, but to align our will with his. That’s from the Bible Dictionary. And if we’re going to be true to the wisdom of John Taylor, to never ask God for anything that we’re not willing to do ourselves, we need to seriously get out of the habit of asking God for every little blessing our poetic minds can muster as we vegetate against our bed each night, slipping in and out of consciousness. Rather than saying, “Please bless so and so that they may feel better,” why not say, “You know what, Father? I’m going go to talk to so and so tomorrow and try to cheer them up. I will return and report.” There’s a reason why this form of prayer isn’t more prevalent: it just might work. It would de-mistily God and our relationship with him and change our mentality from “God works in mysterious ways” to “God’s work is my work”. What an awful responsibility. Vain repetitions are far more appealing.

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