There is a picture, and a story on the Internet, about a six-year-old boy in Peru who prayed to God, about the Coronavirus pandemic, in the middle of a street. From the story, the boy wanted to pray, but his home was too noisy, so he went outside and prayed in the quiet street.
I am skeptical about two things, but the boys’ story is a good one. Jesus did say “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) That boy can teach the world something.
I am skeptical about the claim that this story has gone viral. It is being circulated by one denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, and probably most of the readers are in that group. But then here we are; I’m not Catholic, and we are taking the story to the wider world. Maybe it really will go viral. It should.
I am also skeptical about the picture. The camera angle, the boy’s pose, and the street lighting all look like the work of a professional photographer. The picture is composed to tell a story. Probably the real event was a little boy talking to God in the best way he knew how, in some dark place.
Someone is making an effort to tell us something because they think we need to hear it.
I am not skeptical about the little boy. He was bothered by things that are happening in the adult world, and he took his request to God. The street was quieter, so he went there.
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The real story is about us. Our world is being ruined by a virus pandemic and the economy is being ruined by our efforts to control the virus. The statistics are alarming, we all know.
The story about the boy in Peru is like any story; 1) someone speaks, 2) the topic is about something, 3) someone listens.
That’s too easy, but it’s true. We know about 1 and 2, but 3 is easy to ignore. How is this street prayer a story? Why did someone bother to tell us about this? Us?
The message in the story is about us. Why are we not all in the street praying? A little boy, in a place we probably never heard of, prayed to God about the problem that is plaguing us all. This story went onto the Internet, and it traveled around the world; and it condemns us.
We are not praying.
The little boy did something simple and natural. He asked God for help. And the world finds that unusual and inspiring. Someone bothered to dress this story up, with good photography and publication because that someone knows that we need this story. I don’t think it’s inspiring, I think it shows our failure.
I have a granddaughter who is six, and at big family meals, she likes to pray before we eat. Be careful with the prayers of six-year-olds; the food will be colder before you start eating. She prays for everyone at the table, and she means it. A little girl speaks to her friend in heaven and asks for help. When she finally says ‘amen’ I wonder about myself. Do I still have faith like that?
Apparently, someone does:
I hope we all learn the lesson of the little boy, which is really a lesson about us. In the Bible, three Hebrew men were executed by being tossed into a burning furnace, and later, their friend Daniel was thrown into a cage filled with hungry lions. (Daniel chapters 3 and 6)
They all walked out alive.
We should ask, why were those stories given to us? Why are we the audience? I believe we all have our own furnace or lions’ den, and we have the same God. We need to know a simple truth.
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen. (traditional, Matthew 6: 9 to 13)
We can fit an entire pandemic into those words.