Out of the Mouths of Children...
We met last night in our sanctuary for an evening prayer. It was the start of the Lenten season, that time of preparation and contemplation of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf. There were some times for spontaneous prayer sprinkled throughout the read prayers, silence, and song. And it was during those less structured times that something very unusual happened...
Sitting in the 2nd row of a room filled with 140 people, was a single mom with her two small children. Children, we're often told, aren't really able to be in these kinds of times, these kinds of places. This is serious prayer, real work, for grown-ups. We don't say that, but never once in all my years of ministry have children shown up for a prayer meeting. And never once, in the absence of them, has anyone ever said, "Hey - where are the 4 year olds?" We just don't expect them to pray.
So imagine my surprise last night when, during our first time of prayer, these two young girls began their offerings of praise. "Thank you Jesus for loving us" was the first offering. Her voice was small, yet bold; innocent, yet astute. "Help marriages to last forever." "Let the sick people become well." "Let every person here tonight know that you love them."
We broke into small groups for a time of praying for our church. I'd asked the congregation to pray for the leadership of our community as we navigate the challenges of growth and seek to faithfully steward the resources entrusted to us. My wife was in the group with the small children. The first prayer in that group was from one of the little girls: "I pray for the leadership of this church."
Jesus had something to say about all this, and what he basically said was that we grown-ups have a propensity for getting it all wrong. Perhaps, in many areas of life, we could stand to learn from the children. They aren't troubled by complex questions about sovereignty and free-will, they just ask God to step into history and fix things that are broken. They aren't paralyzed by the nuances of blame, boundaries, and addictions that lead to divorce; they just pray that 'marriages will last forever.'
It was a good prayer meeting last night for a lot of reasons. But what stood out to me at the end of the evening were the powerful prayers of two little girls whose simplicity and purity of faith humbled us all, and caused us to long for that kind of faith in our own hearts and minds. Yes, we need to grow up - but never forget: a mature faith is the faith of a child - and many of us have quite a bit to unlearn.