the other night at dinner my son taught me an important lesson about prayer. it seems to work this way for me: i learn as much (or more) from my children about what's really important than all of my seminary training and conferences and seminars. so we were sitting around the table and it was time to say a prayer of thanksgiving over our food, a small discipline that we constantly practice. it has become routine. so i bow my head over my creamy chicken, and i expect the standard "thank you for our food; thank you for our family; thank you for this day" kind of prayer, but jack keeps praying. he often adds this little gem of a line, "Jesus, i love you and everyone in the world loves you." but on this night he went even further.
more than a year ago (has it already been 18 months? i'm not even sure), a couple teenagers that we know both became quite ill with cancer. by coincidence, one's name is eric and the other erica. so, when we were first coming to terms with this terrible news, we immediately began to commit both eric and erica to daily prayer, including our nightly prayers with our boys at bedtime. in the many months since then there have, of course, been ups and downs for both eric and erica, but it seems that both of them have successfully survived the incredibly difficult days of dealing with the disease.
but there we were over dinner, heads bowed, wafting the aroma of the home cooked meal we were about to tear into, and jack starts praying "for eric and for erica, that you would be with them and help them to feel better." and from the mouth of a 4-year old boy, it hit me: i must be more persistent in my praying! how often do i pray for someone/something for a time, and then give up on it, moving on to other issues, other distractions? jackson hasn't given up. even if eric and erica are feeling better, jack isn't going to let it go. he wants to make sure that God continues to remember them.
so take some time with me to think about those who have had a difficult year, and don't forget to make them part of your praying, part of your giving and sharing during this season. yeah, maybe the most difficult days are over, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't persist in placing them square in the center of our love, and we can begin by praying for them. keep praying.
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! (luke 18:1-8)