Repeat After Me

At least once a day I tell my three-year-old son the same thing.

“It’s your turn to pray.”

And every time, he responds the same way.

“Dad, you can help me?”

And so I do.

“Dear God.”

“Dear God.”

“Thank you for this food.”

“Thank you for food.”

“Thank you for Jesus dying on the cross.”

“Thank you for Jesus cross.”

“In Jesus name.”

“In Jesus name.”

“Amen.”

“Amen!”

Sometimes I get tempted to wonder why he still needs my help.  Have I messed up somewhere in a way that is keeping him from praying on his own?  What am I doing wrong?

And then I remember just how right these repeat after me prayers really are and how their impact will likely be felt far beyond our kitchen table or living room.

Whenever I think back on my mom’s life, I think about all the times that I had to see her cry.

I think about the time when I heard her crying on the phone, pleading with some creditor who she couldn’t afford to pay.

I think about the time I stood out in the hallway while doctors came into her hospital room to remove some kind of tube from her chest.  I still don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone scream like that before.

And I think about the times towards the end of her life when she withered away in her bed.  Those were the times that I always joined her in crying.

But with each tear there was a lesson.  My mom, in spite of her great suffering, was a joyful woman.  Although I seem to remember the tears more often, I think she smiled twice as much as she cried.  Sometimes she did both at the same time.

I think a lot about the times when my mom cried but I do not remember her as a sad woman.  I remember her as a very happy woman that kept her eyes on Jesus through some great trials.   I don’t think either of us knew it at the time but she was leading me in her own repeat after me prayer.

I’m thankful for a mother that lived a repeat after me life.

I’m thankful for a son that looks at me every day and asks, “Dad, you can help me?”

And I’m grateful for the challenge of living my life in a way that he can repeat after me, even after we both say, “Amen.”

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.  1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)