A Prayer For Children

Ina Hughs

 A Prayer For The Children

We pray for the children who sneak Popsicles before
supper, who erase holes in math workbooks, who can
never find their shoes. And we pray for those who stare
at photographers from behind barbed wire, who can’t
bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers, who
never “counted potatoes,” who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money. And we pray for those who never get dessert, who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, who watch their parents watch them die, who can’t find any bread to steal, who don’t have any rooms to clean up, whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser, whose monsters are real.

We pray for children who spend all their allowance before Tuesday, who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, who like ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under the bed, who never rinse out the tub, who get visits from the tooth fairy, who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool, who squirm in church and scream in 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 aren’t spoiled by anybody, who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep, who live and move, but have no being. We pray for children who want to be carried and for those who must, who we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance. For those we smother and…for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

Someone sent this prayer to us many years ago in an email message. We recently learned it was written by Ina Hughs, a newspaper reporter for the Knoxville News. The prayer reached a worldwide audience when it was read aloud during UNICEF’s World Summit For Children.

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