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White-Knuckled Prayers

White-Knuckled Prayers

“Dear God, gank You for cars and dump trucks and street sweepers. And most of all, gank You for Jesus, Your Son, who died for our sins. Amen.”

Before “amen” finished rolling off his tongue, my three-year-old firecracker began shoveling food into his mouth much like the dump trucks—which he so reverently lifted up in prayer—might slide mounds of dirt into a bottomless pit. When my son paused from filling his hollow legs with pasta, he took a breath and launched into an epic reenactment of his day.

I’ve never seen my son do anything halfway; there is a sense of urgency in every task. When he builds with LEGO bricks, his face remains inches from each piece, concentration etched into his furrowed brow. When he plays outside, each task is completed at a dead run, usually accompanied by an imagined high speed car chase. When he tells stories, he’s breathless, the excitement of sharing his thoughts almost more exhilarating than the events themselves.

And when he prays, his knuckles turn white as he clasps his hands, his eyes turn to slits (as close to closed as his antsy little body can manage), and he “ganks” God for whatever his heart has taken the most joy in that day.

Every task—every prayer—is done earnestly.

My tendency is to look at my son’s enthusiasm for everyday tasks with a hint of cynicism. I’m not nearly as excited about washing dishes or paying bills or grocery shopping as my son is about the daily mundane. I don’t operate with the same sense of urgency. This is partially due to necessity. If I sprinted through the grocery store and slam dunked pieces of fruit and boxes of cereal into my cart at breakneck speed, I’d probably get detained by store security.

But if I’m honest, this cynicism is also due in part to an undercurrent of unbelief.

Rather than write off my little man’s sense of urgency as naive, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit whispering to me through my son’s simple faith. Scripture commands followers of Jesus to pray with an intensity that reflects a trust in Him above all else. Earnest prayer is symptomatic of a heart that believes God hears me, loves me, and will respond to me in accordance with His will.

My son thanks God for every piece of joy in his life and asks Him for the simplest things because he knows and believes that God is the one who can and will answer. His faith is simple and pure—it’s all he knows—and this leads him to pray with a white-knuckled-and-eyes-shut-tight kind of urgency.

When was the last time I hit my knees with this same degree of intense faith?

Because of Christ, I can approach the throne of grace with confidence, knowing that my heavenly Father hears me. Because of Christ, I can bring before God even the details of the daily mundane, knowing that He is sovereign over every moment. And because of Christ, I can cry to Him day and night, knowing that the one true God is the only one deserving of my undivided, wholehearted devotion.

May the posture of my prayer reflect the posture of my heart. May my faith stay childlike and my belief unbroken.

And may my knees remain on the floor and my knuckles remain white.

By: Mary Holloman is the wife of one husband and mom of two stinkin’ cute kiddos. When she’s not preoccupied trying to keep her kids alive, she works and writes for Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center, destroys her husband in ping-pong, and then writes some more. Visit her at and follow her on Instagram at @marytholloman.

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