Gabriel absolutely loves ABC’s summer show Wipeout. If you’ve never seen it, check out the clip. He calls the show “Big Balls,” because the contestants are always trying to jump onto big, slippery rubber balls. Usually they land in the water below after jarring themselves against multiple barriers.
We’re trying to limit how much he watches, because at three years old, he doesn’t understand that you could really get hurt doing those things. Surely, he’s intent on “trying this at home.” But then, I grew up watching Tom & Jerry, the cartoon about the dim-witted cat chasing the wily mouse (or was that a coyote?), where Tom always ended up fatally injuring himself only to cash in yet another of his nine lives and provide us impressionable kids with more zany adventures. (Was there a yellow bird involved too?)
What Gabriel loves he brings up in prayer. He’s always wanting to pray. We’re working on his taking turns to pray, that Lindsay and Jacque want to pray too. He’ll thank Jesus before meals and bedtime for his cousins, his grandmother, his uncle, and Lindsay and Jacque, and Daddy and Mama. One of his cousins gets two shout-outs, because Gabriel will pray for “Tom and Will” and then later on “Willie.” I’m not sure if they’re two different people or if Gabriel thinks the boy just needs extra prayer. This Will/Willie is doubly offered up to the throne room of God.
Sprinkled throughout these mentions is Gabriel’s unwavering gratitude for “Big Balls.” I hadn’t noticed this until I was praying with him one night and he said, “Thank you, Jesus, for Tom and Will, and … uh, and … er, uh, not Big Balls, … and Grandma and Willie …” Not Big Balls?
I asked Cindy about it after I tucked him in. She said we’re trying to lessen his affection for Big Balls. Perhaps so we won’t discover him and Micah recreating the Big Balls set in our living room and attempting similar daring feats. They’re bound to do it anyway. Boys should always have at least one bruise or cut somewhere on their bodies.
What Not to Pray For
Whatever we talk about with Jesus is what we really care about. Gabriel couldn’t contain himself regarding Big Balls, so much so that he had to remind himself mid-prayer not to pray about it. For now, he’s thankful for such an entertaining show. Later, his gratitude for his family and friends will be the concentration of his prayers.
Maybe I can learn a lesson from Gabriel. Those things I covet, those things I think I need could become negatives in my prayers, reminders really:
“Thank you, Father, for Cindy and our kids, for our health and the way you’ve always provided for us, and … uh, not that new car I’d like to have. And not that iPad I think I need”—I can’t imagine what use I’d have for it anyway— “and not that new flat-panel TV.”
Maybe focusing on the people I love and not the things I want will help me to realize how much other people actually need, taking my eyes off my wants and focusing instead on people throughout the world who hold little hope that they can meet their own basic needs today.
“Father, thank you for how you’ve provided for me. I pray not for more of the stuff I want but that you’ll provide for starving children in Africa and Asia and here in our country. And I pray that you’ll help me to see how I can help.”
What do you pray about? What in your prayers could you preface with a “not”?