I am impressed with the children of First Baptist Church in Newton. I sit in total amazement of what they are teaching me, and what I hope they are teaching the congregation. The “Elementary Angels” Sunday school class (and yes, they are angels!) have been talking about prayer. With the help of their Sunday school teachers, Martha and Ann, these children have been studying up on prayer and its many different forms. Would you believe that the children came up with a list of questions to ask the ministers about the subject, sent us a letter with the questions, and invited us to respond? We’ve had the chance to speak to the class to share our answers and to write letters to them too. We’ve also had the chance to hear from them how important prayer is becoming to them.
- How do you pray at home?
- What is it like to be a minister?
- Do you use anything when you pray (candle, cross, etc.)?
- When do you pray?
- What do you pray for?
- Do you have a Bible at home?
- What religion are you?
Look at these children and what they are asking! How many of you have asked these questions of yourself, of one another? How many of you would be willing to answer these questions together, and study the topic of prayer just as these children are?
I am humbled at what they are teaching me and the intentionality they are putting behind their efforts to learn and grow in prayer. Then to top off the amazement, we learned from another child of God this past Sunday. After I gave the children’s message in the worship service, I spontaneously asked if anyone wanted to pray. (I usually say the prayer at the end.) I did not know I was going to ask that question and from the looks on their faces, the children and youth definitely didn’t know I was going to ask that question. Would you believe that a 6th grader, who has had difficultly with her speech and people understanding her; raised her hand, without hesitation and said “I’ll do it!”? That courageous girl took the microphone and said the sweetest prayer, out loud and in front of professors, lawyers, teachers, retired ministers and theologians; in front of the entire congregation – and we understood every word. At that point, we all understood what Jesus meant when He said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”(Matt 18:3)
How many adults would have done that, in the middle of a worship service, without any hesitation at all?
The topic of Spiritual Formation/Spirituality came up in the Hartford Survey as one of the areas our congregation would like to see improvement in. Would that be a subject that your congregations would like to see improvement in as well? Prayer is (in my opinion) the most important thing we can do as a community of faith, especially in light of the decisions and challenges that we all face as a congregation, as the Body of Christ, as the ones called to go out into the world. The children seem to be taking the lead on making prayer a part of their lives and their faith community. They are discussing. They are asking. They are learning. They are praying. They are doing. Are we willing to allow them to lead the way and we will follow??
Are you willing to say “I’ll do it!”? I know I am.