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.
“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.”
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)