Many Prayers, One God

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Solomon Nassim El-Charif bit his lip and studied the paper before him on the table. Writing was so hard for him! He wished he was poetic like Susannah. She wrote all kinds of stuff. Kenya, of course, had finished quickly and was now decorating her paper with stars and glitter and crayon drawings of angels and flowers.

“Are you almost ready, class?” Ms. Kimoto asked.

Solly sighed and picked up his pencil again. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. How else could you say that?

“Who would like to go first?”

Kenya’s hand shot up. When Ms. Kimoto nodded, Kenya stood and said, “The Lord’s Prayer in my words.” She cleared her throat. “Dear Dad in heaven, Your name is awesome! I want You to be the king here, the way You are in heaven. You are the Boss, so what You want is what should be done! Thank You for feeding us, and please keep on doing it. Forgive us when we’re bad—” Kenya interrupted herself. “I should have put, ‘when we act bad.’ I’ll change that in a minute. Where was I? Oh, and help us to forgive others when they are mean to us. Don’t let Satan catch us in his net, and please rescue us when he does.” She hesitated. “I couldn’t think of anything else for the end, Ms. Kimoto. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen, is the best way to put it, I think. Oh, and I decorated it.” Kenya held her paper so the class could see.

“Very nice, Kenya!”

Solly felt better. He wasn’t the only one who couldn’t figure out how to change the end. He wrote quickly.

“Next?” Ms. Kimoto looked around. “All right, Mike. Would you like me to read it for you?” Mike nodded, so Ms. Kimoto said, “This is what Mike dictated to me. Our Father who lives above the sky, You are blessed. You will soon be ruler here, with your law being followed as it is in heaven. Give us all we need today, and forgive us when we are wrong. Help us to forgive others, too, even when they are not sorry. Please help us turn our backs on temptation, and save us from Satan. The world, the strength, and everybody’s worship belong to You forever. Amen. Beautifully done, Mike! Next?”

Solly liked that. “Everybody’s worship belongs to You forever.” That was good. His mind wandered a little to a conversation he had had with his father about Arabs and Arabic ways of worship.

Susannah stood. Oh, no, he wished he had thought fast enough to raise his hand before Susannah did. Hers would be the best, of course. “I kind of wrote it for myself,” Susannah sounded hesitant and apologetic, to Solly’s surprise. “Father, Daddy, my Creator, who lives far beyond the stars and here inside my heart, Your name is beautiful and sacred. May You reign as King and Lord here in my life, as You reign over the angels and the galaxies. May I follow every little thing You ask of me. Give me each moment the food I need for my body and for my heart, and help me trust You for the next moment. Thank You for Jesus’ blood, which covers my sins, and remind me that His blood is enough to cover the sins of others too. Keep me from being selfish and unforgiving. Keep my eyes on You, so I don’t follow Satan into any of his traps, and thank You that You always come and rescue me when I do! You are my King, You are my strength, You are glorious to me, now and forever. Amen.”

There was silence in the classroom. Solly was thinking about Jesus living right in his own heart and being his own King and Provider and Rescuer. “Hers is always the best.”

Solly didn’t realize he’d spoken aloud until Ms. Kimoto said, “Oh, no, there is no such thing as ‘best’ in prayer. Jesus has given Susannah a gift of using words to help others. We are grateful to Him for giving it and to her for using it, but each one’s prayer has been beautiful, because it came from that person’s heart. Suppose we all let Susannah do all our praying for us? What do you think would happen?”

“The rest of our hearts would shrivel up and die!” Kenya declared.

Laughing, Susannah, who had been blushing in an embarrassed way, said, “I’m not the only one with a gift of words!”

Matt and two other primary kids read their prayers next, and finally, Solly couldn’t put his off any longer. But he had an idea. “Ms. Kimoto, my prayer doesn’t really sound that much different. But hearing all these different ways of praying has made me think about something. God hears each prayer from each heart, and in each language, right?”


“May I recite the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic?”


Everyone’s ears pricked up.

Solly stood and began. “Abana lladi fi l-samawati . . .”

“Beautiful, Solly!” exclaimed Ms. Kimoto, when he had finished. “You’ve given me an idea, too. I’d like for us all to take our papers and read our prayers, quietly, but out loud. Solly will pray in Arabic, and I will pray in Japanese.”

“At the same time?”

“Yes, so be sure to be quiet and reverent.”

All together, the voices rose. Some were higher, and some were lower. There were lots of different words, in three different languages. But they all said “Amen” almost together.

Then Ms. Kimoto raised her head. “What do you think, class?”

Hands went up all over.

“It was confusing!”

“It was beautiful!”

“I couldn’t understand anything.”

Solly raised his hand. “Jesus understood every word.”

Susannah nodded. “And every word of every person who is praying right now, all around the world.”

“All around the whole universe!” Mike added.

“His kingdom is coming,” Kenya said, and everybody agreed.

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