What we talk about when we talk about prayer


I’m always on a quest to understand my own spiritual life more fully.  Lately, I’ve been trying to understand my kids’ spiritual lives, too.

This came up in a big way last Wednesday, as I drove my preschooler to meet Grandma, who was going to watch him for the day.  As we sat in the inevitable line of cars snaking off of the freeway, I looked at him in the rearview mirror. He seemed in a reflective mood, and we weren’t going anywhere in a hurry,  so I suddenly had the idea to engage him in a conversation about prayer.

“Sweetie, do you ever pray?” I asked.  “Do you ever just talk to God?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Do you ever say, Thank you, God, for the good things in life?”


English teacher that I am,  I felt a specific illustration might enhance the discussion.  “You know how we pray before dinner,  and we thank God for the food, or the fun weekend, or our family ?”


“Well,  you can do that any time of day.”   Warming to the theme, I looked at the green hillside next to the highway, which was full of yellow wildflowers in bloom.  “For example, I can say, Thank you, God, for the green grass and the yellow flowers, for all the things I love.  I can do that anytime I want,” I told him.

“I just farted,” he said.

And so it goes.

But you know what?  I’m going to take my own advice here.  Thank you, God, for  the gift of this  irrepressible, sweet, hilarious little boy.

And if he ever becomes a priest, I’ll make sure this post goes viral.

3 responses to “What we talk about when we talk about prayer

  1. Nothing to worry about! These things occupy the minds of little boys far sooner than any semblance of spirituality surfaces. Hopefully, the Vatican would not hold this against him should he someday be in line for the Papacy.

  2. Hilarious! And so age appropriate. My son (who is now 12, but with an old soul) has been watching Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson and was discussing the Big Bang with me in the car yesterday. He warned me that he has a scientific mind and wasn’t sure whether he believed in God the Creator. After 5 minutes of serious talk, he switched immediately to talk of whether he would have time to play basketball during recess. They grow up too fast.

  3. Dad, “Pope Luke” has a nice ring, doesn’t it? 🙂

    Pamela, isn’t it fascinating that so many interesting conversations happen in the car? I remember a mom of an older boy (older than mine — junior high) saying that car trips seemed to invite deeper conversation with her son. She felt that not looking directly at each other made her son less inhibited. (Of course, my son talks about flatulence no matter where we are, so maybe we could use a little inhibition?)