"When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed." Acts 21:5
This morning I'm just feeling really grateful. Sunday night we had some serious storms sweep through our area- and part of that time, we were on the road, traveling home from a dance competition. We arrived home, literally, in time for the tornado sirens to sound off, so we headed to the basement, where we spent the next several hours. It was crazy! Tornado sightings here and there, and some serious damage only a few miles from where we live. As I see the pictures of the destruction, I am grateful that we were spared, but I am also grateful, because as dangerous as these storms were, the warning systems were spectacular, and there has been no loss of life, and not even any injuries related to the storms.
Tornado warnings are one of those terribly difficult things to deal with when you have children. I clearly remember when I was growing up, that every time it got even a little windy and rainy, I would lay awake most of the night, terrified that we were going to be flattened by a tornado. So we try really hard to calm the kids down, and yet, you can only do that so much when you're huddled in the basement, watching the storm information on the TV. While Sunday night was one of those nights to remember, what I remember most is this. Sitting down next to my son, and having him put his head on my lap and saying "can we pray about this?" He had tears in his eyes, and was clearly upset, and his first notion was to pray about it.
That's the type of lifestyle we're trying to instill in our children. That when things go wrong- anything- that we take our problems right to God and let Him deal with it. And do you know, right there, we did pray. We prayed that God would keep us safe, as well as our family and friends- as this was a widespread swath of destruction moving into the area. God heard the prayers of my little boy. We didn't even have so much as a new tree branch on the ground when all was said and done. On top of that, we have family who lives in one of the areas hardest hit. They can literally stand on their front porch and see tornado damage just a few houses down- they were that close- but they are safe and had no damage themselves.
When the children pray, God listens. My children have experienced answered prayers before, and as a mom, I just love that God does that for them. Because it's setting them up for a lifetime of turning to God in their times of need. Every day, when we start school, we spend time praying together, and while there are particular requests we hear most days, the more we pray together, the more their prayers get specific. One of the most endearing prayers to me is when we pray that more kids will come to church, because they think kids church classes would be more fun with more kids.
So what are we doing to really encourage and teach prayer to our children? Honestly? We're not doing that much, except making it a normal part of life. When something comes up, there's just a matter-of-fact response to them to make sure they talk to God about that. With Abigail's dance competitions this year, Abigail was concerned about all the driving we'd have to do, and we simply told her that she should pray about that, and maybe God would provide us with the funds to stay in a hotel so we didn't have to do so much driving. God did provide in both instances, and that speaks volumes to her, and tells her that God cares about her, and it encourages her to continue to turn to God when she needs something- anything. I know she's prayed about some little things, and God has answered those for her to. As a parent, I'm not really doing anything except encouraging her to talk to God. It's God who's doing it all, by listening, and answering, and building up her faith to expect God to do awesome things for her.
"But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
Maybe, as adults, part of our problem with seeing answered prayers is that we don't come to God with the attitude of a child. A child comes to a parent and expects that their desires and needs will be met. When Zander comes up to me and says he's hungry, he expects that I'll give him something to eat- not hand him a stick or a rock. When we go to God with a desire or a need, we go to Him and say "IF it's your will, Lord", and our expectations for an answer are not there.
When we pray, when we come to God with a need, we need to approach Him as if we were a child, approaching their daddy. My son prayed that we would be safe, God heard him, and answered. Why should I expect no less when it comes to the needs that I take before the throne? God loves and hears all his children-every single one.