by Ruth O’Neil
How is your prayer life? That’s a tough question isn’t it? Have you ever really thought about it? I tried to think about it and honestly evaluate how much quality time I really spent in prayer. I knew that I prayed every day, although it wasn’t always as in depth as it should have been. I prayed whenever someone came to mind knowing that God had put the thought there. I prayed whenever the church prayer chain came through with urgent requests. I prayed whenever anyone asked me to pray about something specific. I even took 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to heart and I tried to pray continually throughout my day, no matter what else I was doing. However, my house is one of constant interruptions. Before, I had always thought my prayer life was pretty healthy, but after thinking about I wasn’t too sure. And then there was the final straw! Some children at my church put me and my prayer life to shame.
On Wednesday nights at our church, the children are separated from the adults and have their own prayer meeting. They bring forth the requests that are on their hearts and minds and many of the requests from other members of the church that the kids know, and then they earnestly pray. They pray to God and fully expect Him to answer their requests. What faith they have shown! They took Mark 11:24 as their motto. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”(NIV).
Not only did they pray, they kept up with the answers to their prayer requests. They made simple, little books to keep track of their prayer requests and keep track of when and how God answered their prayers
For example, three of the men in our church were looking for jobs. The first man found a job and then the second one found new employment within a reasonable amount of time, but then there was the third man. It seemed to be taking forever. That man was my husband. The kids diligently prayed for him each week in class. When the other requests were answered so quickly, the children thought that the third job should be answered just as quickly. Their teacher told them to pray even harder and to pray at home whenever they thought about any of the prayer requests on their list at church.
After many, many months of prayer for my husband to find a good job, the children were becoming a little discouraged. (Although no more so than my husband!) They began to wonder if my husband’s request would ever be answered.
When is God gonna answer our prayers about Mr. O’Neil’s job?” they asked often. Their teacher encouraged them a little more and told them, “Your prayers will be answered, but maybe not as quickly as you would like them to be. Whatever you do, don’t stop praying!” Well, these children did not stop praying; in fact they seemed to pray even harder. They weren’t afraid to tell us so, either. Every week at church they would ask my husband, “Did ya find a job, yet?” The sparkle in their eyes and the smiles on their faces made them look like they had some secret up their sleeves, or that they had some information that hadn’t been announced yet. And they did. They believed that their prayers would be answered positively and could not wait for the day it actually happened. They may not have understood some concepts such as intercessory prayer; they only knew that prayer worked.
The teacher of the Wednesday night class was a very good friend of mine. As soon as my husband got the much anticipated phone call, I called her to tell her the good news. After almost two years of searching, my husband was offered a good, decent paying job! We were, to say the least, ecstatic! This happened on a Tuesday night. The teacher couldn’t wait to tell the kids our news, but she wanted to wait and surprise them in class. The next night, as usual, they asked, “Did Mr. O’Neil find a job yet?” When they heard that he did, they were overjoyed. Their prayers had finally been answered and they rejoiced in God’s faithfulness!
The difference between those kids and me was the fact that they had a lot more faith. While my husband was looking for work, I had a tendency to lose my faith often. There were some days that I felt he would never find a job and that we would not be able to pay all of our bills and that we could lose our home. I don’t know why my faith faltered, for the Lord provided for every single need we had for the entire length of time my husband was without work. I had no reason at all to lose faith.
We need to pray with much faith just like children do. We need to pray and fully expect God to answer, even if He doesn’t answer in the way we had hoped or even in the time we have allotted. God doesn’t work on our schedule. He can also see the big picture. He knows what’s best for us.
Another lesson those kids taught me was that we also need to ask about each other’s prayer requests with a gleam in our eyes and a smile that shows we are excited about the work that God is doing through us and for us.
At that time in my prayer life, the children at my church really put me to shame. I was older and had been saved a lot longer than any one of them had even been alive. I had seen God at work throughout my lifetime in ways the kids never had. I should have had more faith than they did. Where my faith faltered, theirs never did. I learned from those kids to pray and really mean it. I learned to pray with all the faith I have in my heart and mind and just wait on God.
I thought their record keeping was a good idea. So, I purchased my own little blank book to keep up with prayer requests. Whenever I get discouraged, I bring out my prayer journal and see how God has been working in my life and in the lives of others. It also keeps me organized, so that all I need to do when I have my prayer time is open my book and read down the pages. It keeps me from forgetting prayer requests. As soon as someone asks for prayer I jot down his or her requests. This helps me to remember to ask people how things are going. Knowing that people are praying for you and care about what is happening in their lives is a huge ministry in itself. It is a ministry that you will probably find is more a blessing to yourself than to others.
How is your prayer life? Does your prayer life measure up to the children’s?
About the Author:
Ruth O’Neil has been writing for over 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She loves to touch the emotions when she writes. “If I can make one person laugh or cry, I’ll consider myself successful.” Her first novel “Come Eat at My Table” has just come out in ebook form and can be purchased on her website. She homeschools her three children (well, one now, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for 20-plus years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading. You can visit her on her blog at http://ruths-real-life.blogspot.com or her website at http://ruthoneil.weebly.com