It lasted less than 30 seconds. Yet the prayer left many of the adults in the room with misty eyes and me with a racing mind.
I knew the rambunctious 5-year-old straining to see over the Primary pulpit, having taught him the year before. His ability to integrate Mario into every single Primary lesson endeared me to the fellow Nintendo fan but often left me wondering if he gained any new insights into the gospel from our classes.
But his prayer told me he understood the essentials—and he understood them in a way so profoundly simple it was stunning.
"Dear Heavenly Father, We thank thee that we could be with Jesus today in Primary. Please help us to be with Jesus every day."
In an entire year of well-planned lessons, I could never teach this 5-year-old what he taught me in 30 seconds of prayer.
In all my time spent meticulously cutting out gospel-themed activities and wrangling Primary kids, when was the last time I recognized all that work and worry should revolve around bringing me and others to Jesus? When was the last time I stopped and reveled in the moment of being with my Savior? When was the last time I genuinely thanked Heavenly Father for church, for the Sabbath, for Primary, for the chance to be with Him every day? When was the last time I spoke with my Heavenly Father as I would a close friend?
As our prophet and apostles often remind us, Jesus Christ's message is simple: "Come, follow me." Many times when I hear that invitation, I imagine myself stumbling in Christ's footsteps, making my way across the unattainable distance that separates His perfections from my weaknesses and straining into the eternities for that far off, hazy goal of one day becoming like Him. It's glorious to understand we have eternity and infinite grace to realize our divine potential, but that simple Primary prayer put Christ's invitation into immediate perspective.
In saying "Come, follow me," Christ is inviting us to not only follow His path but to be with Him now, to speak with Him and feel Him and revel in His love and knowledge today.
Instead of looking to the future for eternity, how can I take moments of every day to be with Christ and stay in His presence?
This 5-year-old's prayer captures Elder Dieter F. Utchdorf's word so beautifully, "This beautiful gospel is so simple a child can grasp it, yet so profound and complex that it will take a lifetime—even an eternity—of study and discovery to fully understand it. . . . I pray that we will focus on 'the simplicity that is in Christ' and allow His grace to lift and carry us."
We do not need to wait for that eternity of study and striving to be with Christ. We just need to pray. We just need to go to Primary. We just need to "be still and know." And, in those moments of divine simplicity, we can feel what it means to obtain eternal life and heaven here and now.