Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Spiritual Conversation With a Ten Year Old

Whenever we think that we have this God thing all figured out, we need to sit down with a ten year old for a spiritual discussion. That will put a pin into our puffiness and cause us to crash down to earth without a parachute.

Such was the case last night when I was trying to comfort my son Rusty by explaining to him that our only hope in this life is God. Then came the questions. I have to admit, the answers seem to make sense when I am talking to someone with a well-developed spiritual foundation..

But when discussing these things with a ten year old, I am working with a almost completely clean slate. Easy, right? No way! He started asking the difficult, obvious questions like, “Why can’t I see God?” “Why doesn’t he just come down and talk to us like I am talking to you?”

I steer the conversation to prayer. And he says, “God doesn’t answer my prayers, Mom.” And I look at him with a concerned look. After all, wasn’t this the exact thing that I said to a friend just two weeks ago--that I didn’t feel like God was answering my prayers? Don’t we all feel this way at some point in our lives? Even Mother Teresa had said something along those lines in a letter to a friend.

I become a little uncomfortable. I talk for a minute about the will of God; how he knows what is best and we don’t always know. We don’t always know for what we should pray. I ask him if he wants to share his prayers and concerns with me. He told me that he had prayed for God to keep  his brother Levi safe. But later he spoke with Levi and found out that he had tripped that morning. I pointed out that although he tripped, he is still OK. He said, “Yeah, but he hit his head when he fell.” And I pointed out that still, he is OK. Boy, this can get a little tough. I realize how little I know.

Rusty went to pre-teen camp this summer. He shared with me that at pre-teen camp, they would sit in a circle in a small group and pass a candle around and pray out loud. He said that he never prayed out loud because he was embarrassed about his prayers. He said that he didn’t feel comfortable; he was afraid that someone would laugh at his prayer. How many adults feel this way? He said that he decided to just wait until he was alone in his bed to pray so that he could do it silently so that no one would laugh at him. I told him that was OK, because the prayers were for God anyway.

Sometimes, at this preteen camp, they would have the kids to write out their prayers. This isn’t a bad discipline.

At the end of our conversation, Rusty spontaneously wrote out the following prayer: Dear God, I hope that someday I can see that you’re really answering my prayers.

I think that Rusty is better at praying than he knows. I am less of a theologian than I thought. I am thankful for this conversation.


copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins


  1. Rusty is starting to sort through the most critical questions of faith, where we have to live it out day to day, moment by moment, sometimes wondering, even worrying, because we know we don't have it all figured out.

    Yet, he prayed in the midst of the questions.

    Writing down prayers--a great idea for anyone. Rusty can write them out and look back on them, too, and see when God does it (answer his prayers).

    Perhaps you can create a special box or container or notebook or journal in which he can store these letters to God?

    So sweet. I love your reflection on his story.

  2. Thanks, Ann. I think the prayer box is a great idea. Kind of like a prayer journal for kids.:)