I remember praying as a child, it was simple and pure and authentic. I would pray with my family at mealtimes or before bed, and it was an act of sincere community—coming together to remember God's presence and blessings.
But as I got older I became intimidated by prayer, public prayer to be exact. By high school I had developed some sort of prayer stage fright, if you will. When prayer took place in a gathering I would analyze every word, and I would become overwhelmed by how much people had to say to God. This obsession over how other people prayed created a deep anxiety in me about how I prayed, and somehow I have let this hold me back from praying out loud for more than a decade.
Recently, however, I've been having a slow but steady change of heart. All thanks to Ryan :) You see, when we pray in our family, especially around mealtimes, we hold hands. Since Ryan has been sitting at the table with us we've been including him in on this practice. And he has had an incredible reaction to this moment of connection.
At the beginning of a meal he will grasp our hands and smile the biggest, most generous smile. Then throughout the meal he will randomly grab the hands of those sitting near him, smile and close his eyes. At night as he's getting ready for bed, he'll sit with us on the floor, hold our hands and a smile will wash over his face. I doubt he understands what we're doing when we pray, but at the very least I love that he has picked up on this practice and that it brings him so much joy.
The fact that he has been initiating prayer has also made me confront the practice of prayer, because if he wants to pray, I'll pray. Fortunately his attention span is pretty short, so a few words are often enough, but I'm so grateful that Ryan has brought me to a place where I'm learning to pray, again.