Teaching Our Children About Prayer
By Dorothy Clark
When our four children were in elementary school, Michael and I decided it was time to teach them about prayer. So we sat them down and Michael began with the parable about the persistent woman and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8). When they all understood the importance of hanging in there, he asked them some questions.
“If a little boy riding in a grocery cart asked his Mom for every toy he saw, do you think she’d buy any of them?”
They unanimously answered, “No way.”
“But,” Michael continued, “what if that little boy only asked for one thing, and every time they went to the store, he asked for the same item. Would his Mom buy it for him?”
“Yes.” They were sure she eventually would.
“Okay, I want the four of you to pick one thing you all want. Think about it and let me know what you decide.”
They didn’t need to think about it. With one voice, they said, “We want Dixie back!”
Dixie was our dog. She was a gentle German Shepherd cross, afraid of loud noises like firecrackers. She had disappeared one night while we were gone. I called the pound and the Humane Society nearly every day for weeks, asking for her, but the answer was always no. Eventually I gave up. Now, months later, the four of them wanted her back.
Then the prayers began. Morning, afternoon, and evening, all four prayed for Dixie to come back. Prayer before meals was, “Thank you for the food and please send Dixie back.” Day after day, they persisted in praying for that one thing they wanted more than anything else.
Being great people of faith, even then Michael and I were appalled and dismayed. We wanted them to learn that God hears and answers prayer, and they ruined it by asking for something totally impossible. We desperately wanted to help God answer, but couldn’t think of any way to do it.
Then one day the boys came home from their friend’s home and told me, “We found Dixie. She’s at a house across the street from Bobbie’s.” As soon as Michael arrived home from work, they surrounded him, wanting him to go immediately and bring the dog home. In no hurry to make an ass of himself approaching a stranger on a fool’s errand, Michael did the logical thing—he procrastinated. “We’ll go tomorrow night right after work.”
Tomorrow came all too soon, but Michael stood by his word and the five of them walked the few blocks to Bobbie’s neighborhood. Michael rang the doorbell, and when the door was answered, he said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but my kids think you have their dog.”
The man said, “I don’t think so.”
Michael began to describe Dixie, and as he did, he saw her in the house behind the homeowner. “That’s her right there,” he said.
The man then explained. “My sister lives in a town several miles west of here. She rescues dogs from the pound if she thinks they are worth saving and she can find homes for them. She picked up that dog sometime back. She’s on vacation now, and I’m dog sitting for her. I’m sure she’d be glad to let you have the dog when she gets back.”
So the bargain was struck. We reimbursed the rescuer for the fee she had paid at the pound, and Dixie came back home to us.
Who do you think learned more about prayer, Michael and me or our kids?