I was serious about not blogging anymore but I have to tell you this. We had our first prayer night tonight getting ready for Grand Openning. We had Tyler, four pastors, myself, and four children 7, 4, 4, and 2. Whether the presence of our little people was deliberate or by default I don't know but read on ... at least one 4 yr. old was prepared to come and "be quiet" because we were going to pray - quite a sacrifice when you're 4, social, and your friends are there, too.
As adults we talked about sacrifice and fasting and giving up things that control us. Two of the kids had successfully given up computer for the day as their fast and very excited about it. 2 year old Emily had given up her nap, though probably not intentionally...
We had some group prayertime and the kids were kids but very good and included.
Then we prayed in the foyer, in the sanctuary, over the supply room and office doors, in the kitchen and outside. It wasn't scripted. It wasn't planned. There was enough space for adults carrying heavy burdens who wanted still, quiet prayer to have that, too.
The kids included me in their outdoor prayer walk. They had prayed over chairs for people in the sanctuary. Now, they prayed for the trees to grow and for the people in the houses behind the church to be safe. They prayed for Artisan to be good neighbors. They ran through the parking lot praying for cars not to break down and for cars to fill the parking lot. They prayed to be lights like the street lights over the parking lot. When we were all done, they prayed for blessings on this person and that person.... Some of these prayers came from them. Alot of it came from a parent walking with them saying, "What [do the houses back there] make you want to pray about."
Bringing your children, praying with them, letting them pray with you, investing your own prayer energy and your own prayertime (corporate or personal) looking for ways for them to connect or helping them quiet themselves while others are praying is a significant sacrifice. It's ALOT of work. The work of it hit me, the sacrifice of it hit me, but I couldn't help but think that these kids are getting something very different from Sunday school and the dynamic potential for their faith to just keep growing is enormous. I have more faith than most adults for this kind of thing but I confess that I waver because I'm not sure there are parents and others willing to work and sacrifice like this. The dynamic of last night left me saying, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief! Lord, help us make this happen."
As parents and as a community, it's alot of work to include children and walk with them and let them walk with you - alot of work and personal sacrifice. It requires we change how we think not just about worship but about prayer and probably other things, too. I don't think it's presumptious to believe that God enjoyed watching them bounce around and being very still and that He was listening as intently to to their prayers as to the intense, serious prayers that the rest of us brought. I also believe He received the sacrifice that these parents/guardians made as sweet incense.
The next step? When God answers we can say, "Remember when we talked to God about that? I think He was listening. Let's say thank you." If God doesn't answer? Together, we'll keep praying ... something else to learn . . .
When was the last time your prayer time was solemn but fun? When was the last time God made you smile and gave you hope when you were facing an incredible challenge of faith?
God is pleased to give these little people His kingdom. This is a treasure hidden in a field that a man sold everything He had to buy ...