Recently, the kids and I had huddled into a sort of hug prayer, with a child on each side of me. As I was praying, I was so distracted by their fidgeting with one another. And this wasn’t the first time my prayers had been interrupted by their playing. I remember my own childhood. My parents would have never allowed such frivolity and playfulness. They taught us to fear and respect God in prayer.
But we live in a different time. God is our friend, not some big, far-off being. We want our kids to like God and church and all things spiritual. But in my attempts to make Him approachable, have I made Him ordinary? Have I made God too commonplace?
The idea of the fear of God has somehow gone out of mode. It’s true, I do want my kids to enjoy church and feel like God is their Father. I’ve taught them that prayer is just “talking to God.” But I’m afraid in doing so, I’ve taken away some of the holiness, the sacredness of prayer.
God is nothing to trifle with. He is holy and deserves not only our respect, but our fear. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He said, “‘Do not come any closer’ … ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground'” (Exodus 3:5 NLT). Though God had called Moses to Him, He did not allow him to approach His presence casually.
When Jesus was crucified, the veil of the Temple was torn, permanently removing the separation between us and God (Mark 15:38). But that doesn’t mean our approach to Him should be anything less than reverential.
I’m not saying we need to pray formal, liturgical prayers all the time. But neither should we be distracted or irreverent. Prayer is talking to God. But we must remember that He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, not our buddy with whom we are shooting the breeze.
So I’m doing quite a bit of backtracking and retraining with my kids. We are learning to “bow our heads and close our eyes,”–old school praying. We are learning that prayer is not the time to play and fidget. And most importantly, we are learning that God is to be honored, respected and feared.