Early this past summer—on one night when we managed to eat dinner together as a family, I asked the kids if they had anything they'd like to pray about. At first there was silence. But then my 5-year-old daughter said in her sweetest, calmest voice, "How about we pray about poo?" Then she smiled wickedly at her brothers who nearly fell off their chairs laughing.
Now I've been down this road in my own life. I grew up Christian. I know this drill. And I was ready to beat them at their game.
"Greta," I said. "What a terrific thing to pray for. Okay, let's pray." And as we bowed our heads, and folded our hands, I launched in to a prayer for poo. I thanked God for food that turns into poo. I thanked God for indoor plumbing and toilet paper (this got more giggles). So I took a more serious turn: I thanked him for the miracle of our bodies, specifically our digestive tracks. I prayed for people who suffered from "bad poos" (total giggles) and who were sick in other ways. This led us to a prayer for the children around the world who suffered digestion issues because of lack of food and contaminated water.
We ended by thanking God for sending Jesus—for being willing to become a God who pooed—as a model for a way to live and for a sacrifice for our sins.
I was pretty amazed at where an honest prayer about poo could lead.
Starting with Stream-of-Consciousness
This experience opened my eyes to a whole new way of praying, especially in those seasons or moments when you feel a loss for what to pray. Or when you know you need to connect with God but just don't even know where to begin.
My kids call these random, start-with-anything prayers our "Poo-Poo Prayers," but I think of them more as "Stream-of-Consciousness Prayers"—perhaps, for you modern literature buffs, how Virginia Woolf or William Faulkner might have prayed.
Here's what I do: When I know I need to chat with God but am feeling distracted or when I'm desperate with need but at a loss for where to start, I'll look around my cluttered office or at what lies ahead of me through the windshield and I pick something. Then I start praying about it.
I've started prayers thanking God for the little Wheaties box/picture frame perched on the bookshelf by my desk. This has taken me to prayers for my son (whose tee-ball team picture it encases) and to each member of my son's tee-ball team. That prayer once ended with a call that each of my kids discovers their gifts and gets to live out their passion. Another time (I use this Wheaties box a lot!) it ended with a blessing for professional athletes, particularly those caught in the grips of substance abuse or rough lifestyle choices.
For Further StudyDownloadable resources to go deeper
- Carolyn Custis James: What It Means to Be a Woman in MinistryeBook Format Available! Author and speaker Carolyn Custis James offers leadership insights for women.