If I could hide our book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, I would! This is currently the most-requested book by Abby. And by most-requested I mean, it is the ONLY book she wants to read right now. To be honest, I tried to remove this book a few times from our special reading chair box and return it to her bookshelf –hoping for a reprieve. I should know, though, that I cannot outwit a two year old! With in seconds of realizing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is missing, she hops to her bookshelf grabs it, and hops back into my lap, proudly holding her prize. What can a mother do, but read it one more time? “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree. Whee said D, to E, F, G…”
As a former teacher, I understand the value of repetition for children. I know that re-reading a book like this one, full of fabulous rhythm and rhyming words, is an important part of a child’s development. The repetition provides a means of understanding our language and of learning to read. Not to mention Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’s plot is about the alphabet trying to make it up the coconut tree without the tree toppling over. I know that repeatedly exposing Abby to seeing the letters and to hearing the letters helps her grasp language, writing, and speaking. Even though, I understand the value of repetition, I still want to avoid it sometimes.
The same is true with our prayer. Our prayer needs a rhythm– a time, a place, a space–that is consistent. A rhythm that is so familiar it can be repeated over and over again without much thought, similar to the way I can repeat Abby’s favorite book without the book in front of me. It is something I know and she knows– we are both familiar with it.
Our prayer also involves repetition. Repetition of scriptures, of certain themes, of recurring struggles. Returning to a certain scripture, for instance, that consoles us or that causes tension is a way of furthering our understanding of God and of deepening our understanding of what God is saying to us. As we return to a prayer or a scripture again, God gifts us with new insights or re-affirms a previous understanding.
Repetition in our prayer life is not always easy. At times we get bored. Other times we say, “I have already done this, what else can I learn?” When we do not risk returning to something in prayer again, we often risk losing an opportunity for God to speak to us. Because as you and I both know, we do not always get it the first time. We need the repetition, just as Abby does. Eventually, the insight, the grace, the affirmation, the answer, that God was offering us will permanently stick, and we will become as familiar with God’s gift to us as I am with Abby’s favorite book.
What do we need to return to in our prayer? What scripture? What theme? What moment of consolation?
P.S. For those of you who do not know the book, you can watch Chicka Chicka Boom Boom here.