Children can both cause us to laugh and learn when you ask them about prayer. From the internet, here are my favorite stories that can make us smile and ponder the amazing gift of prayer.
- My brother, when he was about 9 years old, had to take a test in catechism and one question was, why did Jesus ascend to heaven on the third day? His answer: To be with his Dad!
- A friend of mine’s son prayed so quietly at the dining room table that we couldn’t hear what he was saying. When his sister complained to him about it he said, “I wasn’t praying to you.”
- When I gave birth to my youngest, a boy, my daughter, age 6, whined, “But, I prayed for a girl.” Her brother, age 4, replied, “I prayed harder.”
- A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” “I wouldn’t know what to say,” the girl replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”
Nothing reveals more about who we really are and what we truly believe than prayer. So often we see prayer as something we do to try and change the circumstances of life or someone else’s heart. However, when we approach it as such, we miss so much of what God has for us.
Prayer reflects the heart of the one who prays; prayer reveals what God needs to accomplish in our own lives perhaps even more than what we are asking God to do in others.
We can see prayer as our “spiritual mirror” when we look at the prayers of the prophets in the Old Testament.
Job shows great faith in God in the beginning as tragedy after tragedy enfolds him. But due to his willingness to discourse and even passively listen to his friends’ unwise, foolish explanations regarding his life, Job shows his wavering trust in God. “Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments . . . Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?” (23:3–4; 24:1; cf. 13:23–24). Job’s consistent turning to people for wisdom and his lack of prayer not only encouraged his questioning faith, but showed his lack of faith in the Almighty.
Jonah, in the belly of the fish and desperate to get out alive, turns to God NOT in worship or repentance, but in resignation. We see Jonah’s bad attitude all the way through the book of Jonah which ends (Jonah 4:9-11) with Jonah being angry about his circumstances. God asks Jonah about his heart attitude which had been so apparent through all of Jonah’s discourse with God.
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
We silly humans believe more is better – more knowledge will bring peace and more information will solve any uncertainties. Habakkuk respectfully and humbly asks God for understanding in the ways of the world during his time and God grants his petition, explaining what is happening and even what will happen along with some reasons. Two times Habakkuk hears God’s reasoning, and in the end, Habakkuk finds knowledge is a poor replacement for faith. In perhaps the most worshipful prayer in scripture, this minor prophet reveals his complete faith in God through his final moments of prayer (Habakkuk 3:17-19):
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Dear Readers, may we allow our prayers to reveal to us what work we need God to do in our lives. Let us see our prayers as a mirror: exposing our hearts to us, convicting us, and leading us to personal repentance and unwavering faith in our Almighty, Sovereign, Wise God.
Praying for you! Elizabeth