Rich Mullins wrote a little-known song once for a baby girl named Madeline who was born prematurely and never made it home from the hospital. He insisted that though Madeline was tiny and helpless she was always praying.
Madeline fusses and Madeline laughs
The angels in heaven say, "Hey, look at that!
There's your faith
Mountains will quake"
'Cause God gladly bends
Just to hear Madeline
When she prays
I've always wanted to teach my children that lesson: that God gladly bends to hear them pray. But then life comes in. Right now I'm in the achy-body, fuzzy-headed, short-of-breath phase of pregnancy, and it can be so easy for me to derail from the track of intentional child training. It's strange how God helps us sometimes.
Last Saturday night I hit a low. Matt's car had been out of service for three weeks while we weighed our options for fixing it, which meant I was putting in extra time driving him to and from work on the days I needed our van, and we were putting lots of extra money into the gas tank. Matt was working overtime out of an office that our church lets him use to sell some things on the Internet for a little extra income. And then our dryer broke. Tempted as I was to sink to a frazzled state of self-pity, a strange thing happened. I almost smiled because we've seen over and over in our lives that it's just the times that things look the darkest that God is actually the nearest. He's just getting our attention. And I knew it was time for my girls to learn that lesson.
After attempting to tear the dryer apart and finding myself only unsuccessfully grimy, I herded the kids up the stairs and tucked them in their beds. "Girls," I began, "tonight Mommy's going to change the routine a little. Instead of just thanking God for something tonight I want you each to ask God to help us fix our dryer, and fix Daddy's car, and for a better job for Daddy."
"Why do we all have to pray for the same thing?" Hannah questioned. So I told her the story of the persistent widow, and I told her how much God loves to hear his children lay their needs before him, and how much it honors him when we trust him to provide for us. I told them that I wanted each of them to pray, so that when God answered they could know that God answers Naomi and Hannah and Emma when they pray. Of course we talked, as we often have before, of how God does not grant us everything we ask for, and how he often has better plans than the ones we have, but I felt confident that this evening's circumstances were just an invitation to ask and watch God work. They prayed the most simple, sweet, sincere prayers, and I came downstairs refreshed.
The rest of the story for our dryer was in my post "Mrs. Fix-It." Solving and fixing that problem within three days for $30 was answer to prayer number one. Tuesday night we also got a phone call from the volunteer mechanic clinic that a local church runs once a week. These men were able to fix Matt's car for the cost of parts only--donating their labor, and cutting the cost of repairs down from $1000 to $500. We picked Matt's car up on Wednesday, the answer to prayer number two. And this week Matt has had two phone interviews with The American Red Cross for a job that would be much closer to home and much better paying. He will interview in person for that on Tuesday. Whichever way that interview goes, I had more than enough evidence to present to my girls at bedtime last night.
"Girls, do you remember the prayers you prayed last Saturday night with Mommy?" I asked. "What did you ask God for?"
Naomi smiled and answered, "To help us fix the dryer, and fix Daddy's car, and for Daddy to have a better job."
"And do you think God heard you pray?"
"Well, the dryer is working, and so is Daddy's car, and Daddy's talking with some people about a new job," she summed up.
"Naomi, don't ever forget that," I said, "God loves to hear you pray."