I woke up praying this morning. I do not say that piously, this is not a normal occurrence for me. It's just that this morning as I opened my eyes, I felt my spirit groping towards my heavenly Father with an awareness that I needed to start the day with some acknowledgement of Him. After a few stumbling attempts at formal prayer, the phrase came to mind "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." I expressed my heartfelt desire to God that whatever else might come after my feet hit the floor, I would approach it with joy, knowing the day was His and not mine.
My wife is away at the moment and so I am parenting our kids solo for a few days. This means that one of my responsibilities is making my children presentable before taking them to school each morning. Kelsey ensures that their wardrobe is set in advance and Calvin (our 9 year old) takes care of his own grooming. Eva and Zoe, our twin 7 year olds, however, still need someone to do their hair each day, and right now that means me. On my best day there are basically two things I can competently do with my daughter's hair: a pony tail and a half pony tail. Involved in any attempt at styling their hair is the task of brushing it. For whatever reason, it seems that if I am brushing their hair, my girls feel that I am scraping glass shards across their scalps based on their screams and tears. I know about brushing from the bottom and brushing slowly and that I have no baseline for understanding the pain that girls experience since my hair has never reached below my ear lobes. For all that, I think our neighbors have been tempted to call CPS on more than one occasion based on the howls coming from the upstairs bathroom at bedtime when I'm on duty.
So this morning was no different for one of my daughters, who was already in a tender spot because of some unmet expectations in her morning. The tears and cries came which inevitably delayed the whole process of getting everyone ready and out the door for school. Patience is a virtue in such cases, just rarely one of mine, and so I ordinarily would respond with frustration and abrupt words to move things along. This morning, though, the words of my waking prayer came back to me in that moment and so I paused, held my daughter, and prayed aloud over her that she would know that this was God's day and that he had made this day from eternity past and known everything that would happen to her and her brother and sister in it from the beginning. I prayed that she would be able to rejoice in that reality no matter what came her way. She calmed down and our day proceeded as planned.
I just got a call from her school that she had a fall on the playground that resulted in a bloody nose but was nothing serious and that she is OK. It occurred to me that God knew that would happen in this day He had made and I prayed again that my daughter would be able to rejoice in spite of such an unwelcome thing in her day (which I will no doubt hear about when I pick her up). As I said, this is not my normal way of engaging with God or my kids, but it served as a teaching moment for me (more so than for my daughter I think), that I often think of prayer as asking God for things rather than as positioning myself in a posture before His throne. My prayer this morning didn't "fix" anything and was't "answered" in the sense we usually think of. Instead it put me, and I hope my daughter, where we needed to be to face the day. It put us in the care of the Shepherd of our Souls. It made me conscious of His reality as the day unfolded. Like I said, not a normal day. But then I think, why shouldn't this be my normal?