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When Children Pray
By Cheri Fuller
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 1998 Cheri Fuller
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Power of Youthful Prayers
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Though her voice is small and mild, All heaven stills for the prayer of a child.
In a small motel room in western Oklahoma, Dave bent over his laptop, booting it up to test the communications time-keeping system he planned to install for a company the next morning. To ready the equipment for installation, he needed to double-check the functions and then program the system on his computer.
ERROR, the message flashed on the screen. Then the read-out went dead.
How can this be? he thought. The system had been tested and certified by technicians. Dave tried several more functions and the error message appeared again. For hours he worked on the system, trying to detect and solve the problem. He attempted to contact technical support people in several locations but no one was available. The system had clearly failed.
Dave finally called his boss in Oklahoma City to report the status, but instead of offering him support, his boss, Dan, barraged him with an angry tirade. It wasn't like Dan to blame Dave for a technical problem like this. Besides, Dave had done everything possible, and nothing was working.
Normally quick to ask for God's guidance, Dave felt so discouraged that hecouldn't pray. A heaviness descended on his mind. I prayed earlier and it didn't help, he thought. And what will I tell Joel?
Dave had brought his ten-year-old son Joel on this business trip so they could spend some quality time together, especially on the long drive to and from the company. But now things had spiraled downhill and Dave felt totally frustrated. So much for quality time.
Later when Joel returned to the room after playing Ping-Pong with another kid, he saw his dad pacing in front of the bed, visibly shaken and stressed. Dave made another phone call attempting to get technical help, then tried the computer again. Nothing. Finally he sat on the bed, head in his hands.
"What's the matter, Dad?" Joel ventured, and Dave spilled out the problem.
"Joel, this is unbelievable! There's something more at work here. I don't know what else to do because everything's gone wrong," Dave said. "Would you pray for me?"
As Joel sat on the motel bed he put one hand on his dad's shoulder and prayed, "Lord, help my dad remember how to get the time clock working and the problem solved. Help his boss to be nicer to him and not so mad. And please, take off all the pressure."
As Joel prayed, some Bible verses he'd never memorized came to his mind. He and his dad looked up the passages and read Ephesians 6:10-15, which describes our need to wear the armor of God in spiritual battle against unseen forces that muddle our thoughts and actions. Then they looked up Psalm 22:8 (NASB): "Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him. Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."
Moved by Joel's spiritual sensitivity, Dave encouraged his son to pray each verse over him and the situation. As the boy continued to intercede, he envisioned his dad kneeling like a child, with his hands folded and head bowed. He saw Jesus kneeling beside Dave, with His hand on his father's shoulder, comforting him. As with the Scriptures, Joel shared the picture with his dad. In turn, Dave told his son how this helped him feel assured of God's help.
Although nothing about the problem changed immediately, Dave felt a heaviness lift from his spirit. He put the computer aside, believing the Lord would do what his son had prayed, and went out to play catch and enjoy the evening with him.
The next morning Dave started over and immediately discovered the source of the problem. The technical support people returned his call, and by that afternoon he had everything installed and functioning perfectly. Dan even called back to affirm Dave's hard work.
The turnaround relieved a huge stress for this dad. But the prayer time had an even more important, long-lasting impact on the ten-year-old son. Usually quiet, tentative, and not likely to take risks, Joel's faith grew swiftly and he trusted God much more in his everyday life. Before that day, fear had always been a big mountain for Joel; he often became overwhelmed and worried about a problem that erupted at school or at home. But after seeing how God answered his prayers for his dad, Joel began going to the Lord first in difficult times. He found His strength to handle problems, whether it was for writing a book report or resolving a misunderstanding with a friend.
"Jesus was right there with us in the motel," says Joel. Now he knows first-hand the truth of Psalm 22:8, that if he commits himself to the Lord, He will deliver and rescue him, just as He helped his dad that day in the motel.
And Joel's dad understands that with prayer even, "a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6).
A WIND IN SOUTH AFRICA
It was a cold, sunny, still winter's day in South Africa. A large white tent stood outside the Dutch Reformed Church at Centurion, Pretoria, where pastors, intercessory leaders, and ministry directors from around the world gathered in the main building for the 1997 Global Consultation on World Evangelization. Jane Mackie of Australia served as the intercession leader for the children at the conference, but because she also needed to attend the adult consultations, she handed leadership of the children's prayer sessions to her seventeen-year-old daughter, Ellen, and her team.
In the children's tent Ellen and the team of teenagers guided the one hundred South African children, ages five through sixteen, through the basic steps in preparation for prayer and intercession: a relationship check with God and each other; praise and worship; submitting their minds to God and inviting the Holy Spirit's presence and direction; waiting on God for what He wanted them to pray. Toward the end of the hour, as the children shared their thoughts about what God seemed to be telling them, one girl began sobbing and a few others turned tearful.
"What's wrong? What are you upset about?" Ellen asked. The children were troubled by the violence and crime in South Africa. They felt convicted that they had grown so accustomed to it, they hardly mentioned the devastating problem in their prayers. Suddenly a line of children trailed up front to the microphone, saying things like, "We must pray for our country and not just let the older people pray. God wants us to take responsibility to pray about the violence, not just leave it to our parents to intercede."
At this point Jane dropped by the tent with a group of adult intercessors to join the children in prayer, but one of the directors said it was time to wind things up for morning tea time.
"We have one more thing the Lord wants us to do," Ellen announced. She suggested that the children pray on their knees, Korean-style (all at once), for their country. The children dropped to their knees. At the count of three they cried out to God on behalf of children, families, and others hurt by the crime and violence, and asked God to stop the destruction plaguing South Africa.
Only seconds passed before the tent began to shake; a gust of wind blew into the tent and dust flew everywhere. The children wondered what was happening, but Jane encouraged them to keep praying. As adults from the conference looked into the children's tent, they saw clusters of young people weeping and interceding for their country. After the prayer time one girl told the leadership team that when the wind was blowing, she had looked outside the tent and the trees were standing still.
"What a wonderful work they were doing in prayer," Jane recalled. She believes the Holy Spirit swept through that tent. "Only God knows the true value of the weight of those children's tears, as He collected them and used them for His purposes."
At a conference of informed, experienced, adult intercessors, children led the way.
GOD'S CALL TO KIDS
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Luke 18:16). God has always welcomed children and young people into His presence, wanting them to develop a vital, prayerful communication they can maintain throughout their lives. But I believe He also is calling kids to pray at this particular time in history for two important reasons.
The first reason for God's call is in response to the onslaught of destruction aimed against this generation of children and youth. Kids today aren't just "at-risk." They're under the spiritual enemy's fire. In the last ten years more children have died in global battles than soldiers. Around the world millions of children suffer and die from war, HIV/AIDS, child prostitution, and forced child labor, facing unprotected and poverty-stricken lives on the streets. According to Phyllis Kilbourn, a missionary and children's advocate serving under World Evangelization for Christ International, "Millions more are beaten, battered, kidnapped, sexually abused and devalued in innumerable ways by individuals in their homes and communities."
Since 1974 more than twenty million babies in the United States have died through intentionally aborted pregnancies, with 1.5 million new abortions occurring each year. Children also bear the damaging brunt of a divorce rate of nearly 60 percent. Violence attacks our youth. Every day over 135,000 kids carry guns and weapons to school and sometimes they open fire and kill innocent classmates. The average age of first-time drug use is thirteen years old and getting younger. Satan is hard at work, trying to destroy our kids, both morally and physically.
However, this is not the first time the devil has tried to obliterate children. In the Old Testament the pharaoh's men killed Israelite baby boys at the time of Moses' birth (Exodus 1:22). Herod ordered the murder of all male children two years old and under, trying to destroy the baby Messiah Jesus (Matthew 2:16). Any time God has a special purpose for children, the enemy seems to unleash a wave of destruction on that generation. But as always, he cannot thwart God's agenda, and that plan encompasses the second reason God is calling kids to pray.
I believe God is inviting children and youth to claim their "rightful place" as intercessors for God's kingdom, no matter their age or background. David Barrett, a missiologist, estimates that 170 million Christians pray each day for revival and evangelism, and that 20 million claim prayer is their major calling. David Bryant, chairman of America's National Prayer Committee, explains: "Ten million prayer groups make revival prayer one of their primary agendas, while hundreds of prayer networks are committed to mobilizing such prayer within denominations, within cities, and within whole nations."
An unprecedented river of prayer runs through America. Various tributaries flow into it, including denominational prayer focuses and organizations like Promise Keepers for men and Moms In Touch International, comprised of mothers who pray for their children and schools. There are city-wide, state-wide, and national Concerts of Prayer, multi-denominational gatherings that mobilize prayer for revival. Campaigns like A.D. 2000, the National Day of Prayer, PrayUSA!, and Campus Crusade for Christ's Forty Days of Prayer and Fasting are uniting millions to pray for revival in our nation. But the river extends far past American borders. Prayer summits and conferences in countries such as Korea, Brazil, Germany, Norway, and Taiwan are gathering thousands to pray for the advancement of Christ's kingdom.
Bryant adds: "We are standing in the vortex of what may be the most significant prayer movement in the history of the church," which can lead to a worldwide spiritual awakening to Christ. As God calls people of every denomination, race, and nation to this prayer movement, He is not leaving out the children! He's calling them to be a "feeder stream" in the river of prayer because they are a significant part of the Body of Christ and possess qualities that make them effective prayer warriors.
With simple, refreshing, childlike faith, many children are responding to God's call. In homes and churches, prayer gatherings and camps, kids are drawing near to the throne of grace. And it's not just young children who participate. In growing numbers teens are praying and fasting for their schools, families, and nations.
On the other hand, some of the pray-ers are very young. For example, at Calvary Chapel Christian School in Australia, a group of preschoolers and elementary-aged children took the initiative to give up their lunch break to pray every Tuesday. On different occasions, two little girls cried when praying for their fathers. One of those dads, who would have nothing to do with the church, began attending a Christian men's breakfast and later a spiritual retreat. As these children see God answer prayers for families and classmates, their faith grows stronger.
In contrast, on a global scale, children aged six to fifteen years from eight different countries attended the Global Consultation on World Evangelization (GCOWE) in Seoul, Korea, as praying delegates. GCOWE was attended by 4,500 world church leaders and thirty-eight young intercessors. These children didn't just pray for their own needs or countries, but for the children and youth of other nations.
When the A.D. 2000 prayer strategies were organized, Esther Ilnisky, founder of an international prayer network, asked, "What about the children? Who is mobilizing the children to pray?" In response, C. Peter Wagner, Fuller Theological Seminary professor and coordinator of A.D. 2000, invited Esther to select children to attend the 1995 world conference. The young people who attended GCOWE had their own prayer meetings, but they also participated in hands-on practice, praying for national leaders and problems.
"When the members of the International Children's Prayer Track drop to their knees, God shows up, bringing healing and hope," commented an adult GCOWE participant. They were the first of many children and teens who later joined in prayer gatherings and conferences around the world, sometimes with adults and sometimes meeting in local kids' prayer groups.
Excerpted from When Children Pray by Cheri Fuller Copyright © 1998 by Cheri Fuller
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.