One of the great privileges I have in serving as an elder in our church is that I get an email every week with the prayer requests that have been submitted to the church throughout the last several days. Each week, our staff and elders read through these requests and pray in the way people have asked us to. And I’ve found myself, as I read and pray through them, taking special notice of those requests submitted by the children and teenagers in our congregation.
When I say “special notice” I don’t mean that I pray for them more or care more about them. It’s not that at all; I think it’s just that my heart feels moved in a different way than it is for the other requests. It’s not necessarily because the gravity of the request; they’re all urgent in their own way. It’s because of the fact that they were submitted by children.
The primary way we get these requests in our church is through pen and paper. Every week, in our church worship guide, there is a place where you can take the time to write out your prayer request and then drop it into the offering basket when it comes by.
No prayer kiosk.
No instant prayer text.
Just a pen and paper.
Maybe that seems outdated, but that’s part of the reason I love it. For kids, who have grown up in a connected world, who have never known what it means to have a land line and perhaps have never written a letter, this might seem like a foreign exercise. But week in and week out, there they are – simple and heartfelt prayers, written out on paper, given to the elders of the church for prayer.
Sometimes I find myself praying for a dog. Other times I’m praying for a grandparent who is sick. Other times I’m praying for a friend who isn’t being very nice. Each one, though, scratched down on this piece of paper, represents a true, unchanged, simple need. And in each one, the heart of a child shines through – that God loves me, God cares about me, and God wants me to ask Him to help me with what is burdening me. It’s as convicting to me personally as it is touching.
This simple act is one of the things I find myself praying for my own children – that they would grow in the kind of faith to simply believe, without qualification or self-justification, and that one of the expressions of that belief would be this simple act.
This morning, I find myself asking the Lord to help my own kids be the children who are willing to put pen to paper and take the time to write these out. I’m asking Him to give my kids confidence in what it means to pray, and enough confidence in their church to trust them to be doing so. I’m asking Him for this tangible evidence of their faith – that in a cell phone world, they would do the antiquated thing of actually writing these things down, unashamed of their need and confident that God can help them as we call on Him together.
Father, please help my kids be the kind of children who are willing to put pen to paper and write down these articulations of their need.