…still infants in Christ.
… fed with milk, not solid food…
1 Cor 3
You may have remembered yesterday as we officially entered the season of spring here in NZ, that the old English word for spring gives it name to the pre-Easter season of growth we know as Lent.
The growth that healthy humans seek is not a random expansion in every direction driven by disordered human appetites. Instead the maturation we long for is a sound formation that enables our life on earth to become abundant. (ref. John 10:10) As St. Irenaeus put it: “The glory of God, is the human person fully living.”
In the early stages of our life we think and talk and pray as children in a relationship with Jesus that is well-suited to our childish hopes and fears. Over the decades we grow and mature in many ways becoming more intelligent, physically agile, emotionally secure and socially adept.
These signs of maturity are often prompted by the complex realities of adult life. The one who successfully and healthily negotiates the challenges of life (even with wrong turnings and many mistakes) moves forward in maturity.
Whenever a child experiences a taste of the ups and downs of adult life we jump at the chance to teach them skills that will help them to deal with similar emotions and situations in twenty and fifty years.
However too many adult Christians feel that the faith that sustained them as children is no longer robust enough to meet the demands and ups and downs of adult life. They feel as though their growth in faith has not kept up with their growth in other ways.
This awareness is a great moment of opportunity for us and the next step for one who suspects there may be a new stage of faith ahead is simply asking Jesus to lead the way. He never misses an invitation.
As a small child I was taught some complex adult prayers that made little sense to me as a five year old, but I liked the fact that I was praying in the same words as big people who I respected, in words and phrases also used by ancestors who had lived a few centuries before me.
As a small child I was taught:
“Soul of Christ, sanctify me, body of Christ save me, blood of Christ inebriate me…”
“Inebriate?” Of course I had no idea what that word meant back then, but I grew into it and now this is my prayer every time I receive communion.
As a toddler I was also taught phrases of prayer that will be familiar to many:
“…anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, sought thy intercession…”
“The word became flesh – and dwells among us”
“…kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”
Many of the words and the meanings made no sense to me when I learned them, but even as a little kid I knew beyond all doubt that I was praying, and as I grew older and grew to know the meaning of the big words (inebriate, implored, intercession, kindle etc). I found I had a repertoire of prayers that I could grow into rather than (like many childhood prayers) grow out of, and these were prayers which in their words (learnt by heart by the child) carried the greatest truths of human existence.
A few years ago I was challenged by this six minute video clip. Brian Holdsworth encourages us to lead children into an experience of faith that will sustain them as adults.
Even if you have seen this before it is well worth watching again.
- Take a moment to recall prayers that you learnt as a child. You might be surprised at the ones which come back to you and that you remember by heart. These prayers are not only a great faith-link with your childhood, but also with people across the generations who also lived in relationship with Jesus. You might like to re-claim one of these old favourite prayers to use in your prayer this week.
- As many of us continue these days as a retreat-in-daily-life, this simple morning and evening reflection might be helpful. Try it on waking in the morning before getting out of bed, or last thing at night after turning out the light.
- Email email@example.com with your initials to join those taking these few days as a simple retreat-in-daily-life, and to invite others to keep you in prayer. Click the image to enlarge.