When Daddy Prays
Nikki Grimes & Tim Ladwig
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2002
On the front flap of When Daddy Prays Nikki Grimes writes, “In my view there is no more powerful image than that of a strong man bowing before God.” She is absolutely correct, and the text and illustrations of this book do an excellent job of capturing the daily prayer life of one such man through the perspective of his son.
When Daddy Prays is not a book of prayers; nor is it a story about a prayerful father. Rather, it is a set of poems about a father-son relationship that highlights the centrality of prayer to the father’s life.
The poems cover a wide array of topics: mealtime, bedtime, sickness, safety, a new baby – it’s all there. But that simple list makes it sound less profound than it actually is. Through the poems we see a father’s deep desire to model the Father to his children, to teach them to walk in his ways, and to shepherd them as the Great Shepherd cares for us his lambs. His own relationship with God spills over into everything he does; prayers flow from his mouth from morning til night.
There are a few things that I don’t like about this book, though I acknowledge that they might be reflections of own idiosyncrasies. First, pictures of angels always bother me, and this book shows angels on two different pages. Second, one or two of the fourteen poems strike me as bordering on irreverent (something that is not found anywhere else in the book).
I’m sure that some might think that I have overstated or understated these concerns, but even so, I still recommend that you take a chance with When Daddy Prays. Since it’s a book of stand-alone, non-sequential poems it’s easy to skip a page here and there or adapt the text as you see fit. What is communicated on all of the other pages easily makes it worthwhile.
I don’t doubt that reading this book would benefit you as much as your children. It is a powerful reminder that our children are listening to us pray – they probably know more about our prayer life than we think! It’s a welcome encouragement for grown-ups and little ones to pray without ceasing, to talk to God about all of the circumstances we encounter every day. And that is a lesson that we will never need to stop hearing.