As the Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity Conference closes today, I was asked to pray this prayer. It’s adapted from a piece written by Ina Hughes, and it’s too beautiful not to share.We pray for young people Who put chocolate fingers everywhere, Who like to be tickled, Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, Who ask for $20 before they leave with their friends, Who erase holes in math workbooks, Who never put away their shoes. And we pray for those Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire, Who can’t bound down the street in new sneakers, Who never “counted potatoes,” Who aren’t anybody’s Facebook friend, Who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead in, Who never go to the circus or to a concert, Who live in an X-rated world. We pray for young people Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish, Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money, Who leave make-up all over the sink, Who slurp their soup. And we pray for those Who never get dessert, Who never had a safe blanket to drag behind them, Who can’t find any bread to steal, Who don’t have any rooms or lockers to clean up, Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s iphones, Whose monsters are real. We pray for young people Who spend all their paychecks before Tuesday, Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, Who like ghost stories, Who stay out past curfew while their parents wait for them, Who get visits from the tooth fairy, Who think they’re far too old to be hugged good-bye, Who squirm in church and scream on the phone, Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry. And we pray for those Whose nightmares come in the daytime, Who will eat anything, Who have never seen a dentist, Who are never spoiled by anyone, Who don’t have a loved one to come out to, Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep, Who live and move, but have no being. We pray for young people Who want to be carried And for those who must, For those we never give up on And for those who never get a second chance, For those we smother, And for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it. We pray for children. Amen.