Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review: This Little Prayer of Mine

This Little Prayer of Mine starts off, "I know you're up in heaven, God, and can hear my voice from there. I'm just a little child. Will you answer my short prayer?" And thus begins my ambivalence.

When it comes to spiritual matters, I'm very careful what language I use with my children, admittedly, sometimes to a fault. I don't want them to misunderstand God as someone who causes earthquakes and hurricanes and can be summoned down whenever we decide we need a little extra help. So when this book starts off with God far away and the child reduced to "just" a little child, I'm immediately put off. The Bible says that God is with us and will be with us always, not "up in heaven" where we obviously are not. And I always want my children to feel significant as the people that they are at that moment. Never should they be waiting for another time of life to consider themselves significant to God and capable of being in relationship with Him.

As I read on, I note that the themes addressed in this book are relevant to our lives and to the life of a child at some point. And most of the answers to those themes were agreeable. For instance:
  • When we have a choice to make, we can ask God to show us the right path and to help us follow Him
  • When we do bad things that we know we shouldn't do, it's appropriate to ask God to forgive us and help us to act better
  • When we are feeling lonely, it is completely appropriate to cry out to God for him to let us know he's "here with me and everything's alright"
  • And, it is wonderful to ask God to help us be like Him, to love.
But some of the prayers left something to be desired:
  • "If you give me riches...I promise to be generous..." That is nice, but the qualification of "if" coupled with the implausible illustration of a mountain of gold coins reminds me that we should be willing to give generously all the time, no matter what we have. I also don't want my children holding out for overabundant material wealth. I just think that could have been presented differently.
I felt like there was a little bit of inconsistency in the story layout, which made it feel choppy to me. The pages about possible future careers felt a little random and distracting. But the rhyming, language and the many illustrations are good for beginning readers.

As for the illustrations, they are beautifully painted and expressive. I love the double-page spread of all the seasons being merged together. And the dad snoring on the couch makes me laugh! However sometimes I felt like the pictures portrayed a scene I couldn't relate to with my own children. I wish that sharing God's love was more relational and not represented by dropping your old clothes at a charity.

There is much praise on the cover for this book encouraging the imperative teaching of prayer to children. While I may not agree with the way everything in this book is presented, I am encouraged to put the book down and to pray with my kids. To pour out my heart to God before them, showing them how to ask for help, believe, hope, trust and wait on God. I know my kids will learn more from my example than they will from a book anyway.

This book was provided for review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing