This is going to be a long post, but I think you'll enjoy it. This is an shortened version of a devotion I wrote for my Mom's group: "What my kids and husband have taught me about prayer." Enjoy!
Moms are supposed to teach their kids how to pray. It's part of the job. But one thing I've learned over the years is that my family teaches me much more than I teach them.
The first thing they taught me is to pray with confidence. Maybe it's during the rough trip into adulthood that we learn not to expect too much lest we be disappointed. Kids don't get that. They expect the moon, and I'm learning slowly that when they ask God for things, He listens.
When my son was little, a new family moved in across the street from us. The family had two daughters that were close in age to my two kids. Over the next year, our two families became nearly inseperable. My son told me several times that he couldn't wait to grow up so he could marry his best friend.
But, changes happen and both their family and ours ended up moving in order to follow jobs. We landed in completely different parts of the county. Sure, we wrote letters and phoned, but as usual, life went on.
Life doesn't always “move on” for young kids. A month or two before his fifth birthday, my son started adding on a special request during his bedtime prayers. “Dear God, thank you for today and help me not have any nightmares tonight, oh, and God? Please let Eden be able to come to my birthday. Amen.”
My heart sank. I didn't want to see my child disappointed and I worried over his fragile childlike faith when God didn't produce his friend for the party. I sat with him. “You know dear, sometimes God has to say, 'no' to things we ask from Him.”He shook his little head at me. “Don't worry Mom. She'll be there. I prayed for it.”
Every night, like the “persistent widow” from Luke 18, he prayed the same prayer. Every day I reminded him that Eden was probably NOT coming, but we would still have fun anyway. He never doubted that God would come through. We addressed the invitations, but I hid the one for Eden and never mailed it.
We looked through cake decorating books so he could pick something special for the party. He flipped past pages of trains and trucks until he found a purple butterfly cake. “I want this one,” he stated. “Eden loves butterflies. I want her to like it.” Tears sprang to my eyes, “Oh, honey, but she's not...” He stopped me. “She'll be there, Mom, and I want the purple butterfly cake.”
Perhaps you've already sensed where this story is leading? It was two days before his birthday when the phone rang. It was our friends from Nebraska. A friend of hers in Oregon was in trouble and she wanted to bring the girls and come help her. Could they stop by and see us, maybe on Saturday?
Matthew 21:21-22 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
They had never seen the invitation. They had not planned the visit. But a child had prayed and his heavenly Father listened.
I didn't tell my son that his friend was coming. Being the smart mom that I am, I figured that I would let him enjoy the surprise and the delight when she walked through the door. I had forgotten his faith. He wasn't the least bit surprised when she arrived. He knew she would be there. There was never a shred of doubt in him. The doubt was all mine.
There have been many instances of answered prayers in my life before that day and since. But I seem to keep forgetting how God understands the way his children feel and that He always listens. He does sometimes say "no," but He always listens. My husband has a stronger faith in this department. He has taught me to “pray about everything.” Whenever we are faced with a life decision his answer is “Let's pray about it for a few days.”
I'm impatient by nature and usually get annoyed when he says that. “He's just putting off making a decision,” I sometimes think. Or “that's just His way of saying no.” I don't know how many times God will answer in my favor before I realize that “let's pray about it” is the best answer I could get from my husband.
Last summer, he asked me about a writing project I've been working on for quite awhile, but hadn't mentioned lately. “Are you still working on that or have you gone on to something else?” I answered, “Well, I've sort of put it on hold for now. I realized it would probably need a lot of research and that would involve making a trip to San Francisco and that just doesn't seem smart right now.”He gave me the normal answer, “Well, let's pray about it for a few days and see what God says.”
I sighed and probably rolled my eyes. “Sure.” Okay, I'll pray about it, but I don't think God would really care one way or the other.
God must have felt otherwise because the answers started rolling in, immediately. When I had worked on the project before I had felt a strong connection to the old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The next day I heard the song on the radio. Hmmm, that's a little odd. I suppose it is a Christian radio station, though.The next day, Sunday, the worship team sang “Come Thou Fount.” Okay, that had never happened in the four years we've been there. Our worship team usually does contemporary songs, not hymns. I heard the song at least a dozen more times in the next week.“Okay God, I get it. I get it!” [This project became SHAKEN.]
My husband understand Philippians 4:6-7 much better than I: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In conclusion, I want to tell you my six year old daughter's newest prayer. I had found a giant teddy bear stuffed in the back of her closet. It had been there, gathering dust for years. It's one of those massive things that some well meaning relative with no kids gives to a toddler not realizing how much space it will take up in her bedroom and how little she will actually play with it. I put it in the Goodwill pile. She frowned, but seemed to understand when I logically explained it to her.
That night, she prayed, “Thank you God for this day and help me get a good night's sleep. Oh, and God? Please make Mom let me keep the big teddy bear. Amen.