Monday, July 07, 2008

Childhood belief about prayer

As I was driving to a doctor appointment this morning, I was praying a bit. I realized when I arrived at the doctor's office that I had been distracted at some point and hadn't "finished" the prayer. That is, I hadn't closed it with an "In Jesus' name, amen." It brought back memories of how I prayed as a kid.

The way I prayed (and I don't remember if I was taught this or just picked it up from seeing my parents pray or something) was to start it with "Dear Jesus" and to finish with either "Dear Jesus, amen," or "In Jesus' name, amen." I remember "Dear Jesus, amen," as the more frequently used closing until I got older. I also remember believing that if you didn't end the prayer properly, the prayer wasn't over, and anything you said until you actually closed the prayer would count as you talking to God. So, if I said, "Dear Jesus, thank you for my parents, please may I have the He-Man Power Castle ... *distraction* ... stop it, Josh! You're such a booger-face! ... *remembers prayer* .. Oh no! Uh, dear Jesus, amen," then that would all count as my prayer to God. To put it in nerdy terms, it was like forgetting to close an HTML tag or use the proper bracketing in a mathematical equation. Everything between those open tags or brackets would count towards that initial designation (with potentially catastrophic results!). I was afraid that any "sinful" words uttered before properly closing the prayer would be as though I were saying them to God Himself!

This morning as I remembered that I had trailed off in my prayer, I realized I still sort of believe that. If I really think about it, or if you were to ask me, I would say that I don't actually believe that, but I still finish a prayer if I remember later that I hadn't.


For a while as a young boy I also used to ask Jesus into my heart in every prayer. I remember praying for lunch with some friends and asking Jesus into my heart for the hundredth time. I'm not sure exactly why I did that. I remember also (at odd times later in childhood) fearing that I had never said it properly and that I was still unsaved, so I would pray it again on the spot "just to be sure."


Brian Miller said...

Ha ha ha - dude that's hilarious - I really nerded out to the html tag illustration in your story. GLAYVEN!

Crazy to think about how many of those childhood formations are still the foundation for some things we think today - whether we picked them up, misunderstood them, or were taught them by bad teachers.

I once had a sunday school teacher tell me that I needed to ask for forgiveness for every single sin I've ever committed.

I asked "but what if I can't remember them?" they said "well you better pray even harder that God will remind you - otherwise you're goin to hell".


Ryan said...

Oh lordy, I remember believing something like that too (having to remember every sin). I didn't have a horrible teacher tell me I was going to hell if I didn't, but I remember being worried that I would forget to ask forgiveness for some and God would have his big checklist up in Heaven. He would be tapping it with his pen and shaking his head.

Linds said...

Hi there!

Kinda random, and maybe I'm wrong, but I think your mom told me something like that with your uncle. About the praying and praying to make sure it sticks. :)

Also, something about a scary tiki thing?? I don't know, I really should be in bed now......

Nice to see you on here.