A Childlike Faith
One sunny day as a group of ordinary children gathered in a park, they were praying for their friends who didn’t know Jesus. That day, something extraordinary started to happen as these children from the New Life Christian Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina called out to God for the lives of their friends. As they walked around the edge of the park and prayed, the houses nearby them literally began to shake, but it wasn’t an earthquake. It only happened where they walked.
They are ordinary fun- loving children who have discovered that God takes them seriously.
The church in Buenos Aires, Argentina has seen numerous miracles happen as these kids have prayed. But they aren’t “super-spiritual” kids with shining halos who have mastered the art of hovering six inches off the ground! They are ordinary fun- loving children who have discovered that God takes them seriously. They understand that they don’t have to wait until they grow up to see God do amazing things through them.
Around the world God is empowering children and answering their prayers in remarkable ways. I’m a children’s minister, but I don’t see myself as a baby-sitter. I see my job as training children to be “warriors for Jesus”. I want to help them realise that God takes them seriously and that he will do amazing things through them as they “go for it” in prayer and that prayer is fun. It’s very easy to put having fun under the heading of “Non essential.” But if we are going to finish this race for God we’re going to have get a little more childlike, and have a little more fun especially in spiritual matters.
Jesus did more than encourage us to become more child-like. “I tell you the truth,” He said, “you must change and become like little children. If you don’t do this, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Becoming like children, then, is much more than a quaint image. It is an essential requirement for being part of God’s Kingdom.
In 1997 my wife, Belinda, and I ministered to the children at “The Event for Revival,” a Pioneer family conference in the UK. We had some quite amazing times of worship with that group of three hundred 8-11 year olds. One evening as we talked on revival and miracles, the Holy Spirit fell powerfully. Children were laid out in all directions with quite a few of them pounding the floor in prayer. It was an incredible time with many parents having to carry their children back to their tents because they were still out in the spirit!
At the end of the evening, one child went back to his tent only to find that his flashlight had stopped working. He showed this to his mum. Perhaps the bulb had broken because the child had used the flashlight for some unusual purpose like hammering in tent pegs. Or maybe it had endured one too many battles as a Star Wars light sabre. Or much more likely, perhaps it simply had a dead battery. In that case the problem would be instantly solved by buying a new set of batteries. An adult would have made a quick trip to the shop and two new Duracells would soon have it up and running again.
Sometimes our “common sense” might just be the enemy of releasing our faith.
However, this child thought like a child, not a grown up. He promptly announced to his mum that he’d heard about miracles that evening and that he would pray for his flashlight. At this point most of us would have our brains in overdrive trying to work out exactly how we’ll explain to the child why the flashlight still doesn’t work after receiving prayer. But the child wasn’t thinking like that. He’d heard about miracles happening when people pray, and no one had told him miracles couldn’t happen to flashlights. So he prayed, “Dear Lord Jesus, please make my flashlight work.” He flicked the switch--and the flashlight worked!
Now here’s the difference between children and adults. Adults would never think to pray for the flashlight because years of life experience have taught us that buying a new battery is the most sensible solution. Experience has given us our sometimes awful “common-sense.” And sometimes our “common sense” might just be the enemy of releasing our faith. Perhaps, at least sometimes, we just need to kiss our brains goodbye.
Learning from Children
I was working on my computer not long ago when it started doing those things that make you want to pickle your Pentium. It kept crashing every 5 minutes. Then it wouldn’t work at all no matter what I did. I was furious. Loads of work were piling up. In the midst of this hassle, the story of the boy and the flashlight suddenly came back to me. Why not pray for the computer?
Now there’s a thought. Up until then I’d been thinking of all the people I could call to come and help me sort out my rogue PC. Suddenly I realised I was about to do the “common-sense” thing. So instead, I decided to get radical. I decided to pray for it. I felt pretty stupid standing in my office laying hands on the hard drive, but I prayed anyway. Then I switched it on again. It worked. All day. I managed to get all my work done. Before I prayed, I hadn’t been able to keep it working for more than five minutes without it crashing. Wow! And although I had to call a repairman the next day, I learned an important lesson about the enemies of faith.
Why Children Pray With Faith
Cynicism and doubt are the all-too-familiar enemies of adult faith. Thoughts like, “It would have worked anyway,” so easily whiz in to our heads as our minds apply good old “common-sense” in an attempt to rationalise away anything God does.
Children haven’t learned to be afraid that prayer won’t work or to be afraid of “failing”.
Of course naiveté isn’t always the best course. One parent wrote me explaining how their children had started praying for healing for each other at home after they’d been to one our events. She said the children had had quite a lot of success praying for minor illnesses and decided to stretch their wings a little and pray for Roscoe their rat. The only problem was that Roscoe the rat had been dead for three months and was buried in the garden. The mother stepped in when she discovered that they had actually dug Roscoe up to see if he’d come back to life. The children agreed that it was a probably a good idea that he hadn’t come back to life looking like that!
Children haven’t learned to be afraid that prayer won’t work or to be afraid of “failing”. But we have. We need to learn that just because it didn’t happen last time doesn’t mean it won’t happen next time. Fear of failing can stop us from trying and crush our faith.
Some might argue, “Oh, all this talk of everyday miracles just raises unrealistic expectations in our kids”. But isn’t faith all about flying in the face of what seems realistic? Too often we limit our expectations, and our God, to what seems reasonable and possible. Jesus wasn’t joking when he said, “Nothing will be impossible for you,” in Matthew 17. Our job is to walk with Him, hear His heartbeat, obey what He says and don’t limit Him. Jesus would not have said that we need to change and become like little children unless it is both important and possible.
Oh Father God, help us to become more childlike. Show us where cynicism, doubt and fear of failing have crept in to our lives and help us get rid of them. Help us to be people who don’t always go for the common sense, “Duracell answer” to the challenges we face. Release in us a childlike faith and help us to become risk- takers again, and by all means let us have fun with You! Amen!