A couple weeks ago after church, 8-year-old Gianna DiPrince asked me to pray with her. She was feeling really sad because 7 of the 8 fish they had bought and put in their new aquarium died.

Before we prayed together she had grabbed one of the lanyards that members of our Prayer Team wear during Communion so people know how to identify those who are present to pray for those who seek it.

The lanyards are simple and have two words on them. “Let’s Pray.”

After Gianna told me her very sad fish story she had me bow my head so she could slip the lanyard over my head. In a sense, she was putting on me the sacred vestments we associate with the higher liturgical traditions with their robes, collars and jewelry.

I think Gianna may have been taking the extra precaution to make sure that God heard these prayers because it was a serious matter of life and death; of excitement for pretty new fish and grief at their sudden and extensive loss.

With five kids of my own, this was not the first time I’d prayed for pets that have passed on. But there was something about the extra measure she took slipping the “Let’s Pray” lanyard over my head that felt, to use an old and rich word, like she was “anointing” me to serve her grieving needs as God’s representative.

I don’t doubt but that she had offered her own heartbroken prayers to God along with her family who shared the loss without making light of it. But she wanted something more; she wanted someone else to pray for her loss and for the dead fish themselves. She was not just feeling sorry for herself; she was genuinely saddened that the beautiful little creatures she loved watching frolic in the water were no more. They had a shimmery but short life in her aquarium.

How I understand prayer these days is quite different than what I have thought for much of my life as a Christian, but I still pray. I love the connection I sense with God in prayer. I pray with others and I pray for others, but it is so much more rare for me these days to ask someone else to pray for me.

That was a common thing in my more evangelical days but I seem to have stopped asking people to pray for me somewhere in my deconstruction of a faith that no longer fit me and the reconstruction of a more expansive faith I could grow into. I probably stopped asking people to pray for me because I don’t think God “answers” prayer based on how many people do, or how loud our prayers are. I’m assuming God gets it the first time, if not even before we pray.

But Gianna helped me move closer to Jesus when she anointed me to pray for her and her fish. I want to ask for spiritual reinforcement like Gianna, not so God will pay closer attention but so that I will.

Pray for me as I pray for you,
MarkMark 10:13 (NIV)15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.