When I was very young, my mother taught me to pray. It was very simple. She sat on the bedside while my brother and I knelt down, closed our eyes, and talked to God. She led the way then waited on each of us. It would have looked foolish or silly to an onlooker.
Being a child, I was not conscious of embarrassment. At first, it was a one-way conservation, a ritual I was required to do. I prayed about childish things into the empty air. I scolded my brother once, saying, "You had your eyes open!"
But in only a short period of time, things dramatically changed. One evening as we went through our mother's ritual, as I closed my eyes, I was not alone: God was there! It was as real an experience as anything I have known. A person was present, bending low, listening to me, hearing the prayers of a little child. I could feel his love for me, strong and steady. He knew me. And in a way that surpasses ordinary knowledge but is true spiritual reality, I suddenly knew him. God had
disclosed himself to me!
What was he like? To me, he felt like a father. He was the father of my spirit and he was adopting me as one of his own. This was amazing to me then and it still fills me with awe today sixty years later.
The creator of heaven and earth, the father of my Lord Jesus, the God of the biblical prophets, had revealed himself to me! That experience has never left me.
Since that precious day in my childhood, I have never felt abandoned nor isolated. His presence is always near, even when I am weak or being tested or tempted. With God, I can be real; not pretending; not religious.
Yes, I walk by faith instead of by sight, but his nearness is my joy.
The wonderful Holy Spirit, who later in my childhood filled me to overflowing, testifies to my spirit each day that God is; that he loves me; and that he is utterly trustworthy. Since that day I have learned how to stand on the scriptures, not on my feelings, but I truly am thankful for the joy from his presence. It continually surprises me, how happy God is.
The big point I want to make about prayer is that it is simple. So simple that a child can do it. It begins with believing that God is, and that he will reward those who seek him. That is part of God's character: he is a rewarder and he especially rewards the faith of children, even when it is only mustard-seed-sized. Don't worry about how much faith you have. Instead, remind yourself of how big and strong God is.
Did your earthly father fail you? Was he foolish or sinful? Did he abandon you or abuse you? Look toward God instead. He is perfect. And realize this fact: your heavenly father loves you. He demonstrated that love when he gave his son to redeem you on the cross so that every barrier between you and him could be removed.
It is risky to expose yourself to being loved. But God is safe. He is the lover of your soul. He won't betray you. You can dare to humble yourself and become like a child in his presence. The kingdom of God - the realm of Holy Spirit friendship - is forever concealed to the proud or haughty but is freely revealed to the humble or meek.
Ron Wood is a pastor and writer. He is the founder of Touched by Grace
and was a former resident of Meridian. You can reach him at