“One thing I have asked of the Lord,
That I will seek after:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
And to inquire in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4

Asking the Lord for something we desire does not eliminate the need to seek after what we desire, especially if our request is for a deeper walk with the Father. In fact, if we truly desire what we are asking for, then we will seek hard after it. Making a request of God and then not putting any feet to that request is not necessarily a sign of deep faith; it could be a sign of laziness and apathy or a revelation that what we say we truly desire is not really that deep of a longing.

Of course, that is not to reinforce the adage that, “God helps those who help themselves.” Certainly God can fulfill our desires without any help from us. But in an age where most things can be acquired with the click of button, it is good to remember that while growth in godliness, “dwelling in the house of Lord,” and understanding the radiance of his beauty are gifts of God’s gracious self-revelation, they are also things that must be sought after with unyielding tenacity. Intimacy with God and Christlikeness in word and deed are not items on Amazon that simply need to be placed in a cart and shipped overnight. Which is why it is good to talk of the fight of faith, because we must fight every day to find God as more satisfying and more to be sought after than anything else. It is good to talk of the fruit of the Spirit, because fruit takes effort to cultivate and time to blossom and ripen. And in both illustrations, our efforts, our seeking, simply yield God’s power; God fights the battle and God produces the fruit in the mysterious mixing of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

If we long to know God and walk in his ways, we will pray fervently for his help, and we will also actively press on hard to know him. It is not one or the other: we must pray that God would allow us to know more of who he is and make us more like himself, and then we must seek after him with all our heart, banking on the encouragement and the promise of Proverbs 8:17: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”

As Elaine was flipping through her children’s Bible this morning, we came upon a page that taught about the fact that Jesus prayed and, therefore, so should we. I asked Elaine if she knew what it meant to pray. After some mumbling I helped her out with something like, “Prayer is when we talk to God; that’s why we say, ‘Dear God.'” Of course, what does the word “dear” mean to a two year old, and why do I say, “Dear God,” as if I’m dictating a letter? Another one of those routine prayer phrases, I guess; maybe a twist on “Our Father.” I’ve obviously over-thought this…

Anyways, I then asked her why we pray before we eat, though I think I phrased it, “Why do we pray for our food?” I was expecting an answer from her, and was not disappointed when she responded, “Because it’s hot.” I knew it was coming, because a lot of times when we sit down to a meal and I say it’s time to pray, she says, “But my food is not hot.” I’m not sure where the connection was made – maybe as she gets ready to dig in, we always say, “Not yet – it’s still hot…. Let’s pray.”

I realize more each day that teaching children about God and the truths of Scripture is far from easy. Not only is it hard to phrase things in a way their minds can understand, but keeping up with the daily routines that teach them to honor God can easily fall by the wayside or become stale and lifeless. During another recent “theological discussion,” the subject of death came up because we were talking about two of her great grandmothers who passed away during this past year. I didn’t try to go too deep, but I did explain that they were with God in heaven. Her follow-up question was unique: “Are you God?” I assured her I was not, to which she simply said, “You look like Him.” Wow. I’m not sure what she meant, but my immediate question to myself was, “Do I? Am I reflecting the character and likeness of God to my wife and children, not to mention everyone else I come in contact with?”

As I’ve mulled over these things, I’ve been reminded that I will never be able to answer all of her questions about faith or God or prayer. There are things I know to be true that I will teach her to the best of my ability with God’s help, but mystery is always on the fringes. I will do my best to pray at meals, get her in the Bible each day, and make sure she goes to church, but the routines will sometimes fail. So above all of these ways of teaching my child about the God I love, I think my primary job is to do my best to look like Him. My prayer is that both of my girls hear about the great God their mom and I serve, that they will be graciously saved by Him, and that they will look back and say that, in some small way, their father looked like their heavenly Father.