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What do our kids teach us about faith? Samantha Stephenson shares 3 of God’s surprising lessons.

My 3-year-old has been one of my best spiritual teachers. Becoming a mother has given me new insight into Jesus’s words: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 18:2-4). Her natural curiosity and desire to learn make her humble and attentive. She greets the world with awe and wonder. Her faith in me is unwavering. She knows, without a doubt, that she is worthy of love.

Where do we lose that along the way, do you suppose?

Observing my daughter’s behavior and learning from her perspectives has taught me much about the way I relate to God. Today, I want to share three little stories and how each illuminated something new about prayer.

  1. Start the day in the arms of the One who loves you.

Every morning, my daughter emerges from her room and propels herself straight into my arms. She rests there, unmoving, soaking up my love for her. On days when we don’t complete this ritual, her mood is off. She is more cranky and prone to tantrums. For us, peace starts with resting in an embrace of love.

It’s the same with prayer, isn’t it? When I begin my day in prayer, I rest in the arms of the One who loves me. I marinate in the awareness of my own belovedness, and, having begun the day with a clear refresher of my mission and purpose, I emerge ready to instantiate Christ’s love in the world.

  1. God is not magic.

The hummingbird was dead. Its buzzing wings were stilled, shiny purple feathers damp with dew. My daughter called me over to investigate. “Mommy, I am going to say a prayer that God will heal the hummingbird.”

Why do you say to that? I suppose God could have healed the hummingbird miraculously, if He chose to. But how do you explain to a 3-year-old that God is not a magic talisman or a genie? How do you explain that He is good, even when He won’t heal your feathered friend?

Do I even understand why God answers some prayers and not others? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why is so much hurt left unhealed?

God is not magic. And, thank God for that, really. If God were there merely to do my bidding, what cause would I have to love Him? If God bent to my every whim, how much trouble would I have gotten myself into by now? If God were nothing but magic, there would be no Good Father, no Savior, no hope of something beyond our twisted will.

I do not pretend to understand God. But I do know that He is much, much better than magic. 

  1. Asking for Intercession

“Don’t tell Daddy,” my teary-eyed daughter pleads. Old enough to feel shame over the impromptu wall mural I’ve discovered in her bedroom, she is afraid of how my husband will react when he sees it.

“We need to tell Daddy,” I respond.

The tears spill over.

“Do you want me to go with you?” I ask. Immediately, she grabs my hand and nods, burying her face in my hip. With me at her side, she is ready to face her father.

Our God is a good God, but sometimes we let our fear get in the way. Sometimes, we find it hard to believe that he really understands us and what we’re going through. It helps, in these moments, to have a compassionate hand to hold when facing our own limited faith in the Father’s love.

There is something about the comfort of a Mother that is irreplaceable.

Mary and the saints are a gift to us still walking this long, slow road to holiness.


God knew what He was doing when He offered us the communion of saints, this mystical communion of brothers and sisters rooting for us on our way home. Of course, we do not need to turn to them. God is always there, patiently waiting for us to let Him love us. They are not necessary. They are better than that -- they are a gift.

God is there, playing peek-a-boo in the ordinary, the messy, the simple and mundane. He loves to surprise us, if only we are willing to look.

prayer 3 lessons

Copyright 2020 Samantha Stephenson

Image: Pexels (2018)