Before I entered 7th grade, my dad felt the call of God to go into the ministry. He left a good paying job at the power company in Jackson, Michigan, and our family of six entered a whole new world. Going back to college with four children was not the easiest road to choose. My dad left a secure job, a nice house, family, and friends to pursue a life of ministry. The college years were a lesson for the whole family!
My parents were blessed to have friends that found a two-story brick house with four bedrooms and three bathrooms in Lynchburg, Virginia that actually fit our family budget. Dad got a job as a manager at a steakhouse, and he also worked part-time on the maintenance crew at an old hotel that served as dorms for the college he was attending. My mom went to work as a secretary at Thomas Road Baptist Church.
Even though both of my parents were working, money was tight. As a family we had to scrimp in ways we never had to in the past. Our house in Lynchburg had an fuel oil tank that was buried in the back yard. The house used fuel oil as its means of energy for heat in the winter months. The house also had a fireplace in the living room. As our first winter really set in, the fuel oil in the backyard tank began to dwindle and eventually all of it was gone. One cold, snowy evening, dad and mom nailed up blankets at the living room doorways, and dad prepared a fire in the fire place. The plan was to get out all of our sleeping bags and sleep in the living room with hopes that the blanketed doorways would hold the heat in. There was only one problem with the plan--as the fire burned, dad tossed the last stick of firewood into the fireplace, and none of us were even asleep yet! Dad seemed unworried, but said to my mom and us kids, "I think we better start praying that God will keep us warm tonight."
Without question we all knelt by the couch and began to ask God to provide for us. I don't remember thinking that what we were doing was corny or stupid. I remember that moment as being very peaceful and just feeling like dad knew what he was doing in asking us to pray. We hadn't been praying very long when we heard someone knocking at the front door. My mom quietly got up while we all continued to pray. A moment later, she pulled back the blanket that was hanging at the doorway, and said, "You're not going to believe this, but there is a guy out here who has a whole load of firewood for us!" The excitement that went through all of us was electric! Sometimes when I tell that story, I still think that it sounds unbelievable-but it is true.
God is a God who wants to answer our prayers. He wants us to talk to Him and to ask Him for what we need. When God answers our prayers, that is our moment to give Him all the credit and glorify Him. This is a lesson all kids need to learn. Kids need to understand that God is not a magic genie that they can go to and ask for candy, toys, clothing, and things that are of a selfish nature, but God definitely wants to meet our needs, and he wants for us to rely on Him.
When our kids were much younger, I wanted for them to know what it was like for God to answer a specific prayer just like I had experienced. When our youngest, Keith, was born, all six of us were scrunching into our family vehicle. My husband was teaching at Hyles-Anderson College, and I had gone back to school in order to finish my degree in secondary education. I felt that what our family really needed was a van, but my husband was already working a second job (third shift) to pay for my school bill, so going out and purchasing a vehicle was out of the question. I began to pray with the kids every evening that God would see our need and provide a van for our family. Soon after, our old beater car that we had been driving finally gave up the ghost, and a friend of ours who was in the ministry gave us an older model Ford Taurus. The Taurus looked okay in spite of some minor rust spots, and it actually ran really well. The kids and I prayed and thanked God that even though our exact prayer had not been answered, God had provided. One month later while were all heading out in the morning, a car pulled out in front of us and our Taurus was totaled--fortunately no one was injured. Not only was the car totaled, but the man who had been driving the other car did not have insurance. After dealing the police that morning and filing the report, my husband called his mother to pick all of us up and take us home. Meanwhile, my husband was mentally arguing with God. He told God that we could not afford to sign on the dotted line in order to purchase another car and become captive to car payments. He told God that He was going to have to get us out of this pickle. On our ride home, James who was only 10-years-old, piped up from the back seat of my mother-in-law's car and said, "Dad, maybe this is how God is going to give us that van!" From the mouths of babes!
The week that followed included one miracle after another. Several checks from people in our church were given to us. One of our assistant pastors left a check for $2,000 under my husband's office door.By Friday, we had $4,000. We were told of another co-worker who had a white Ford Aerostar for sale for more money than we had, but when Daryl talked to him, he came down on the price, and lo and behold, we became the owners of a nice, clean, spacious van!
There is nothing like building the faith of a child more than seeing his prayers answered. Kids need to be taught to pray. Here are some things that kids should be taught to pray for:
- Salvation of family members and friends
- For money that they can give to their church--like Faith Promise
- For health of family, friends, and teachers
- For the needs of others
- For correct attitudes toward the things of God
- God's will
- Future mates
Kids also need to know that there is no matter that is off limits when talking to God. They need to know that God is a Friend who is always there and can always hear them.
Ask God today to show something to you that your kids can pray for so that God can be made real to them!