As a parent, if 2018 needs to be the “year of anything”, it should be the year of prayer with our kids, for our kids and about our kids.
I remember the year vividly, even though it was almost 30 years ago. My oldest daughter was in high school. She dated VERY little (and like her mom, chasing a boy was the last thing on her to do list). Jamie never liked shopping for clothes and spent little time looking in her “makeup mirror.” Although she was a high school cheerleader and volleyball player, I don’t think she cared for a second about parties and “going out.” Her friends were her kamp friends from different cities. I knew, however, that way down deep inside she longed for a truly sincere Christian guy to fall in love with and marry one day. So… I prayed. That year, I set aside Wednesdays to pass on food and let the hunger pangs remind me to pray for her future husband. Some days I prayed so often about it I almost got embarrassed to ask God one more time for the same thing.
In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus asks us to “ask, seek and knock.” He tells us again in John 14:13-14 and John 15:7 and then again in Mark 6:22-23, James 1:5-6. and Ephesians 3:20-21. You’d think we’d get it! God listens to our prayers!!
Do you have a child with discipline issues? Pray.
Do you have a child with friendship issues? Pray.
Do you have a child with worry issues? Pray.
Do you have a child with fear issues? Pray.
Do you have a child with depression issues? Pray.
Do you have a child with sickness issues? Pray.
I mention these because we had all of the above, and I watched God mercifully deliver our kids from all of them. One night, when Jamie was small, I thought we were going to lose her. A 105° fever with no doctor and no medicine in a remote kamp in Canada looked hopeless. I never prayed so desperately in my life; so it was when other seemingly insurmountable challenges raised their ugly heads throughout junior high and high school.
If praying FOR our kids is in the middle of the bullseye of a caring parent’s priorities, praying WITH our kids is on the next target line.
My favorite time of the day as a child was having my dad tuck me into bed and pray with me. If that wasn’t the best thing in life, doing the same with my own kids was even better. But, if I’ve ever been “tickled to death” over any sight before these 69-year-old eyes of mine, it was watching my son Cooper not long ago kneel down by his kids’ bed and pray through scripture with his three oldest. WOW. That melted this old dad’s heart like wax. (Monkey see, monkey do.)
Prayer changes things.
Everybody knows that God answers prayers in His way, on His timetable, and that’s ok by me. If He doesn’t answer it my way, on my timetable, I’ll just chalk it up to faith. “Father knows best.”
Now, let me tell you the story of a Kamp mom who took that exhortation to heart and with notorious perseverance.
For 35 years, Mary prayed for her husband, Marvin. For 35 years, he rejected her. When their two children came to our summer camps, they trusted Christ and returned to share their newly found faith with their dad.
“Hogwash,” he responded. “It’s all hogwash.”
The two young believers were not deterred. They joined their mom in prayer for him.
Mary’s mom died in early October of that year. A week later, Marvin died. Shortly thereafter, Mary and I connected on an unforgettable phone call. “How are you, Mary?” I asked. “I can’t imagine how difficult this must have been for you.”
To my pleasant surprise, Mary was upbeat and joyful. “I’m living off a memory,” she responded. “The kids and I witnessed a miracle.”
“Tell me about it, Mary,” I pressed.
Mary proceeded to tell me the story of her countless prayers and attempts to lead Marvin out of his dark stubbornness. She told me about her graceful persistence in prayer.
“Just before Marvin died,” she continued, “as he lay quietly in bed, slowly breathing his last few breaths, I looked into his face and said, ‘Marvin, may I tell you about Jesus one last time?’”
She said he fixed his eyes on her lips and granted her request.
One final round before the closing bell, Mary shared God’s plan of salvation and eternal life through His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross. Before Marvin took his final breath and closed his eyes for his eternal judgment, he whispered these two words to his faithful, praying wife: “I believe.”
Mary personified the apostle Paul’s call in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing,” and in the end, God honored her many faithful requests and ushered Marvin into His eternal kingdom.
Remember to keep praying and sharing our faith with those we love. Let’s persevere like Mary. And let’s keep trusting that God, who loves our Marvins even more than we do, will likewise keep calling and leading them to Himself in 2018.
From all of us here at Kanakuk, Happy New Year to you and your family!