**But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. ** Luke 18:16
When we arrived in Spain in 1997, our son, Jonathan, was about 6 years old. He adapted quickly to most of the changes that our new country offered to us. He made friends wherever he went and was always wandering off exploring anything interesting that caught his attention.
Being 6, he still maintained his child-like faith. It was pure and undaunted by the changes we were all going through. He was an example to the rest of the family!
As a family, we often celebrated God’s answers to our prayers. At dinner, we would take turns asking the blessing over the meal and add any current prayer requests we had received. This often included other missionaries and their fields.
Not too long after we settled into our new life, Jonathan would take his turn to pray at meals and began to mention his grandfather. My dad had smoked cigarettes since he was a teenager. He had had a tough life and smoking somehow gave him some peace and comfort. He smoked a couple packs of cigarettes a day. After many years he did try to quit but never was able to leave it for long. He struggled to win that battle over a lifetime habit.
Jonathan began to ask God to help Grandpa stop smoking. His request surprised us because we hadn’t been discussing this with him or the other children. But somewhere in his mind and heart, he remembered his Grandpa and was burdened to pray for him.
Every time that it was Jon’s turn to pray, he would ask the Lord the same thing. “Please help Grandpa to stop smoking”. This went on for months, maybe even a year. ” Please help Grandpa to stop smoking”
Time moved on and Jon stopped mentioning his Grandpa. Back then money was tight and the children were enrolled in school, so our visits Stateside happened every couple of years.
On our next visit, we all went out to dinner with my Dad. We had a nice meal and caught up with each other’s lives and my Dad had a chance to get to know his grandchildren again. At the end of the meal, I turned to my Dad and said, “Dad, it’s ok if you want to smoke, we are all used to the Spaniards smoking, nearly all of them do.”
He said something like, ” Sue, I don’t smoke anymore. I gave it up a couple of years ago. One day, I just said, I didn’t want to smoke anymore and I never smoked again. “
I was stunned.
I said, “Dad, a couple years ago, Jon started praying for you. He asked God every day to help you stop smoking! ”
I turned to Jon and said, ” Jon, did you hear that????” God answered your prayers!!
When I looked at my Dad, tears were running down his face. I don’t remember if he said anything at that time because he was pretty emotional. But MANY times after that, especially after recovering from a heart attack years later, he thanked me for Jon’s prayers to help him stop smoking. He believed that his ending that lifelong habit saved his life more than once.
Children do not have the fear, peer pressure, insecurities, busyness, or pride that adults do when it comes to their faith. They are open and transparent with their requests. They are incessant with their heart’s desires. And they are easily lead by the Holy Spirit. They are guileless and pure and not embarrassed to pray or share their belief in the Lord.
Here in Luke 18, Jesus mentions children after two other passages on prayer. Our son was like the widow who came continually before the judge with her requests. He was NOT like the Pharisee that thought that the Lord should be grateful that he believed in him. Jonny’s faith was pure and sincere. He just believed that God could do what he asked. He knew that God had the power to do what my Dad wasn’t able to do.
And He did!
We have traveled over most of the country in these last 4 months. We have talked to many, many Christians. Hardly ever did prayer come up in the conversation. Many are frustrated with the past year’s events. But I wonder how much sincere, pure prayer has come before the Lord. Or has it only been complaints and demands?
We can be the widow, or we can be the Pharisee. The choice is ours.