Three and a half years ago my youngest daughter's best friend moved halfway across the country. He took his parents with him, leaving my husband and I miles away from some of our best friends as well. We kept up through e-mail, phone calls and visits. The visits were sweet but oh so difficult to end. Watching my daughter and her friend tell each other goodbye every time was heartbreaking.
Despite the distance and the passage of time, our families have remained close friends. Through a series of pretty difficult circumstances, our friends moved back here a couple of months ago -- without a job. When they came back, we told our daughter that it might be only temporary. It just depended on where her friend's dad found a job. We encouraged her to pray that he would find a job here -- and she did. Many nights her bedtime and mealtime prayers would end with a fervent plea for her friend's dad to find a job -- here.
Two days ago, I got to tell her the fantastic news that her friend's dad had, indeed, gotten a job -- here. There was much rejoicing knowing that her friend would "get to stay." Her bedtime prayer that night included a fervent thank you to God for letting her friend stay here.
The deepest desire of my daughter's heart for the past two months has been that her friend would remain nearby permanently. We encouraged her to pour that desire out to God. We celebrated with her when God granted that desire.
It's so important that we teach our kids to pour out their hearts to God in prayer -- and that we acknowledge when God answers their prayers. Sometimes those answers aren't as fun to hear as the one we heard this week. Sometimes, God says no, and we have to help our kids understand that God's plan is bigger and better than anything we could design. But, we need to make sure our kids always understand that God does not let prayers go unanswered. He either says yes, no or wait, but He never ignores us.
- Encourage your children to pour out their hearts to God -- both the good and the bad. Tell them not to hesitate to ask God for what they want, but talk about their motives first. Requests made out of selfishness and a desire to better themselves are not what God wants to hear. Matthew 6:33 says "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." We have to be seeking God first, then asking for the desires or our hearts.
- Listen to your children pray, and be ready to point out when God answers their prayers. Talk about how when they ask you for something, sometimes you say "yes," sometimes you say "no" and sometimes you say "wait." God answers our prayers in the same way. We don't always understand His reasons, but He never ignores our prayers.
- Celebrate when prayers are answered and remember to thank God for the answered prayer.
- Have your kids keep a prayer journal where they write down their requests and the dates those prayers were answered. This gives your kids a tangible picture of how God answers their prayers.
No matter the answer to your prayers, remember that God has a plan for you, one that will prosper and not harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). Keep seeking after God and sharing with Him the desires of your heart -- and He will answer.