I still remember the book. I think it was my sister’s, but I read it too, and often, probably as much out of boredom as anything else. I still remember the pictures in the book. As an adult, remembering the drawings from childhood in vivid detail like it was just yesterday, says a lot about that artist… and the message.
The little girl portrayed was portrayed as sweet, innocent, kind, and tender. All that without saying anything about the young girl. It did show her in action, although it looked a bit more like inaction. I remember the artist portrayed the little girl’s innocent persona with big eyes, long eyes, and a simple smile flanked on both sides with red hair and freckles scattered on her face like stars in the sky on a clear night.
As I recall the book was thick, relatively speaking for a five or six-year-old, but the total number of thick pages was only four or five. I remember the little girl kneeling beside her oversized bed, and the room that was decked like the quarters of a princess, on her knees, hands pressed together, palms touching, and fingers pointing perfectly vertical toward heaven.
The nameless little girl’s head was bowed low to her chest as she prayed her prayer. Although the little girl in the book was somewhere around my age, I remember thinking her prayer was childlike… even for a child, yet I was enamored by the pictures and simple message.
The prayer was so simple; I, like most kids who’d ever read or heard it, memorized it immediately. While I already considered myself far beyond and more mature than the child in the book and the child’s prayer, I would read it over and over. Partly because it was catchy and rhymed, but partly because I liked it.
In my mind and heart I knew it was a basic beginner’s prayer with little theological structure, yet the prayer danced through my mind like a song… and after several decades… still does.
While there is truth to the facts surrounding the simple child’s prayer, truth doesn’t take into account the heart of those who might repeat the words or how God can use something so simple to do something miraculously profound. Those are the doctrinal truths that need to be shared with all people… starting with children.
Even though I can carry on a somewhat intelligent conversation of eschatology and Melchizedek, there is something comforting to my soul to repeat those childish words of my youth, “Now I lay me down to sleep… I pray the Lord, my soul to keep… If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
The simplest things always seem to be the most profound…even in eschatology and nursery rhymes…