Thrive: Jesus Blesses Little Children – Valerie Burton

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
— Matthew 19: 13-15

The bedtime rituals at our house include brushing teeth and laying out clothes for the next day. Then we read, pray, and just when we think we are done, there comes the request for just one more drink of water. Our eight-year-old son reaches for something in the Harry Potter series if Dad is reading with him and something from the Junie B. Jones series if I am reading with him. At prayer time, he makes sure we ask God to give us a peaceful night’s rest with no bad dreams. Our younger son prefers a book of stories about his favorite superheroes. Not long ago, after I finished reading with him, we followed our routine and bowed our heads to pray. I began with my usual introduction, “Dear God, thank for this beautiful day.” He interrupted me rather impatiently. “Wait, Mom, whoa, wait…when Daddy prays, he says, ‘Dear God, thank you for my wonderful son, Marshall.’ You say that.” He bowed his head and waited for me to start again.

Jesus welcomed the least of these into the Kingdom with a special blessing. I wonder what he said to children as he laid his hands on them. I wonder if he looked each one in the eye as he spoke to them. I wonder if he made the sign of the cross on their heads. I wonder if he placed his finger over their hearts and said, “Always, make room for me in there, will ya?” Whatever blessing he offered, I believe that in his presence, the children knew they were loved and valued. Is there any greater gift we can offer a child?

As children of God, allow yourself to receive the same blessing today. If you can receive it, then you will be ready to give it when the opportunity comes to welcome the least of these into your corner of the Kingdom.

With a big smile in my heart, I prayed for Marshall just as he requested. Since then, I have never begun a prayer at his bedside any other way.

val.crop_2_smValerie Burton serves as the Minister for Christian Formation at Baptist Church of the Covenant in Birmingham, Ala. She is a graduate of Belmont University, Nashville, and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. She has served churches in Tennessee, Virginia, and Alabama for 25 years. Valerie enjoys a rich and full life with her husband Allan, their two young sons, and one old dog.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Makes me grieve even more over the children on our Southern border and those in Palestine. Jesus must be weeping.

  2. judy battles says

    Enjoyed this, Valerie!

  3. Sara hoover says

    Beautiful illustration, Valerie:) Needed this today