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Mar 14, 2009

Open Season Answers 9 & 10: Praying & Being Still

dixiedogmom@gmail.com asked:
I have been praying for your sweet Abby!! I wanted to ask you about what you believe about the power of prayer, since that if often all you ask for. It has always been confusing to me to pray when God already knows His plan and our days are numbered exactly. Can prayer really change the outcome of a situation such as Abby’s? Do you believe the more people pray, the better her chance of being healed?

Prayer is communication with God. We don’t surprise God with anything or inform Him of something He isn’t aware of, so while prayer is a pleasing act of worship that God enjoys, it’s primary benefit is for US. It reminds us of who we are dependent on. It keeps our focus on God. It reminds us to ask God for help, direction and wisdom.

Yes, God knows our plans, our thoughts and the outcome of EVERYTHING, but GOD HIMSELF commands us to pray, so the fact that He “knows” must not be relevant to “why?” we pray. Since our prayer, in reality, is not “needed” by God, then we know that God tells us to pray because it is what is best FOR US.

Can prayer “change” an outcome? Depends on whose eyes you are viewing from. From God’s, no… He already knows the result, so philosophically, prayer cannot “change” what God already knows will occur because He already knows “the change” ahead of time, so it’s not really a change to Him.

However, from OUR perspective, the fervent prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective… from OUR point of view. We are commanded to pray, God tells us pray, so prayer must be beneficial and useful. We know in fact from mountains of anecdotal evidence that prayer effects every aspect of life, from our point of reference.

Do we think if MORE people pray, Abby will be healed? No. I’ve addressed this in the past several times. We are not trying to coerce God, or force His hand. His Will will be done and in fact was determined before the foundations of the earth were ever laid. We continually gather more praying friends into the fold because we have seen how many lives have been touched, how many hearts have been strengthened, how many spirits have been renewed and how many people have shown love and received love because of one little girl laying in a hospital bed in Oklahoma.

It is a testament to the power of God that He can affect so many lives and bond so many together in a common act of love. I mean really… in the grand scheme of things, humanly speaking, what difference does it make if one little four year old orphan girl has cancer? Humanly speaking, NONE, except to her family. So what does it say about the spirit and love produced by Christianity that tens of thousands of people can be knit together in common prayer because of this one insignificant (humanly speaking) child? What joy must our Heavenly Father get to see a large multitude of His children come together in love on behalf of ONE of their little sisters?

We constantly grow the circle of love around Abby because of what it does for US, for THEM, for YOU, for HER. It has also resulted in so much encouragement and love for Abby, Michelle and I. We don’t do it for that reason, but we do not discount this benefit.

For everything there is a season. Michelle and I have enjoyed seasons of giving, serving, teaching, loving and sacrificing for others. We count it all joy that during this short trial for us, God has given us a season of support, encouragement and a multitude of new friends. For everything there is a season…. You reap what you sow. Bless God that his promises are true.

Martha asked:
What kind of behavior is acceptable (or not acceptable) for preschool-aged children in church? For example, do you think its OK for them to color or look at books, or should they be expected to sit still and listen with no toys, etc? I’m really struggling with getting my 4-year-old firecracker to be still and quiet in church.

This is a highly subjective question and strictly my opinion. I think we expect TOO LITTLE of our kids, and we do them a BIG disservice by thinking they have to be constantly entertained and distracted. Our kids have to learn at some point that there is a time to simply sit still and be quiet.

Our kids have been able to sit in church quietly since around 2 years old. We don’t expect a 2 year old to sit for two hours without moving but we do expect them to sit quietly with a book, or coloring something. We don’t let them play with toys in church, because we want them to know that 1) church is not play time, and 2) that they don’t have a universal right to “play” all the time.

As they get older, we transition to less distraction (coloring, books, etc) in church and more “listening”. By the time they are 4 or 5, they might read (look at the pictures) their Childrens Bible during church, but not have coloring or other kids books. Six or older, then are old enough to sit quietly and learn the discipline of being still even if they aren’t actually listening. By 9 or 10, they need to be actually paying attention.

This is made more difficult today because of our constant passive entertainment. Non-stop TV, radio, iPods, computers all through the week condition children with the need to be stimulated relentlessly. Then we wonder why they can’t sit still, and get labeled “ADHD” by the millions (DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THAT!!).

Parents should take time every day, age appropriate, and have their kids sit quietly and read, and sometimes, just sit quietly. If they NEVER practice doing this at home, and learn the discipline, don’t think they are magically going to learn it at church or school.

    7 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    I really agree with your answer here. We seem to be raising an entire generation that needs to be constantly entertained. Games boys, DVD players in the car (we didn't even have air conditioning in the car when I was little-back in the dinosaur age)- it is all quite ridiculous. Thank you - and as always I am praying for healing for Abby.

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    Laurel said...

    I appreciated your thoughts on parents not expecting enough from their kids.

    By the time our kids are 5, they are sitting quietly next to us, filling in the blanks on the sermon notes. Even before they know how to read, they LOVE to copy the words into the blanks.

    Our 7 & 8 year olds are so tuned in to our pastor's sermons, that they talk about them throughout the week, asking us questions about how to apply the Biblical principles. Neither of them are extraordinarily brilliant, they are both just ordinary little boys. But, since they know we will discuss the sermon when we get home, and expect them to be able to participate in the discussion ... they do it. They pay attention. And, they really enjoy it.

    Just last week my just turned 7 year old asked some deep questions about something he had heard in our Wed. night kid's program. Basically, he knew that it was false doctrine, and he was very troubled by it. I am humbled by his desire to know and understand God's absolute Truth.

    Laurel
    mama of 13

    Anonymous said...

    How is Abby today...praying and hoping for a better night and day for her.

    The Gobble's (Lanetta) said...

    LOVE your answer about kids and church... LOVE IT! We completly agree!!
    Great answer!!!

    jhand said...

    I am an early childhood educator and I so appreciate your opinion on this subject. I have never though it was necessary to entertain my students non-stop. There is much in life that requires being still and waiting or listening. Why not prepare them at a young age for this part of life too.

    Marielle said...

    I do think it was not good to talk about adhd the way you did in this post. It hurts me and my children all with adhd. It has nothing to do with tv, computers or the way we raise our children. I do believe that God will heal them all. But for now, even with meds, they are not able to sit still, just because they have adhd. When a kid realy hads adhd they can play for hours and hours and still they can't sit still. So even our 10 year old is allowed to draw during sermon, she hears everything but she just can't sit still if she is not drawing.