“Mummy, my prayer didn’t work.”
My five year old was both cross and confused. She had asked God for the rain to stop so that she and her friends could play in the big playground at school (a new novelty for the Grade One kids), but the wet weather persisted. If anything, the rain got heavier as the week went on!
It was a teachable moment – a perfect opportunity to talk about prayer. With kids I often use the phrase, “Let’s talk to God” instead of “Let’s pray” because it puts prayer in a context they can understand. Prayer is a conversation with God. And conversations don’t usually go well when one person tells the other what they want, and then gets cranky when things don’t go their way!
In words she could understand, I explained to my daughter that prayer isn’t a magic button you can push to guarantee an outcome you desire. Sure, you can talk to God about anything you like. I believe He hears. I believe He can, and does answer prayers. But sometimes when we ask God for something His answer is no, or not yet. That’s the hard bit. Sometimes we pray about really big, really important things – and God still says no, or not yet.
* * * * *
I have to admit that there’s a challenge there for me too. Too often I pray like a child, asking for what I want and only seeing things from my own narrow perspective. Too often I’m the one who treats prayer as a magic button. Too often I forget that prayer is a conversation, which requires me to listen and not just talk!
I love sharing my faith with the kids. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. The challenge is to keep maturing in my own faith. I don’t have to have all the answers, but I do need to continue growing in God.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances… (1 Thess 5:16-18)
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