Those who are faithful in the prayers of the church, such as the Holy Eucharist, Daily Offices, Liturgy of the Hours or any other forms with common prayers and Scripture readings, know all about mental wandering.
It can be the world and its urgencies: “Oh man there’s nothing in the ‘fridge and what will I make them for dinner?”
It can be our own self absorbed flesh asserting itself as we silently critique the music, or judge a reader’s vocal qualities, or resent the person who just plopped down and crowded our pew.
It can be alluring thoughts slipped in by the evil one.
Wait, wasn’t the title about kids? You know, the brats other people bring and who disturb my “worship experience”?
The world, the flesh and the devil turn us into little kids during the prayers of the church. We can sit still but our minds are wiggling, scribbling on bulletins, kicking the pews and whining “Are we done yet?”
Nothing to be done for it except to resist it. As long as we live in the flesh the power of sin will contend with the work of the Spirit.
We need also rely on our more mature and attentive older brother to get us through each service. Jesus gives the Father undivided love and attention, and does so for us when we are squirming in mind and spirit.
“Our Father,” he says, with and for us, nudging us to join in.
“who art in heaven,” he says, getting us to lift our gaze from the distractions to the glory that welcomes us.
“Hallowed be thy Name,” he says, because we are yet children and do not address our Father by name. That perfect intimacy will come, but for now we grow toward it as our short, childish attention spans sit through the prayers of the church.
And sometimes become part of them.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:11-14, NRSV)