I think God sent my children to me to be an outward expression of the Holy Spirit that lives in me. So many times their prompting mirrors the small, still voice in my heart.
Yesterday, my two-year-old and I were out walking around our neighborhood when an ambulance pulled up to our neighbor’s house. You can imagine the reaction that got from her. She wanted to go see it, to touch it, to get in it. I took the opportunity to explain to her what ambulances are for and we practiced saying the word “ambulance”.
After our neighbor was loaded into the ambulance, his wife saw us and came over to speak to us. These are people that we have an acquaintance with and who absolutely adore my girls. So, she was telling us about the health problems her husband was having. And I said, “We’ll pray for him.”
Such a simple statement. One I’ve made countless times in my life. Yet within the hearing of my two-year-old it took on a whole new life. She started repeating it over and over: “Pray for him. Pray for him. Pray for him.” So, we got down on our knees in the grass in the middle of our neighborhood and bowed our heads. I said a simple prayer: “Dear Jesus, please help Mr. Phil. Amen.”
When we were finished with the prayer we got up and, like she does four thousand times a day, she said, “Again.” So I said another small prayer with a little more elaboration. When I was finished, she said, “Again.” For fifteen or twenty minutes, we walked around the neighborhood with me praying out loud for our neighbor while she listened raptly.
After we went inside and she went to bed, I started thinking about that situation. How many times in my life have I told someone I would pray for them? Too many to count. And sometimes I do pray for them, but more often than not, I forget because I don’t stop to pray right at that moment. I don’t do it intentionally, and when I tell them I’ll pray for them I have every intention of doing just that. But when my quiet time rolls around at the end of the day I have other things on my mind than someone else’s pain.
I also thought about how much effort I put into praying for my own needs, my family’s needs and things that are heavy on my heart. But when I do pray for something that I tell someone I’ll pray for, I give it the two-year-old version: “Dear Jesus, Help them. Amen.”
How often have I missed the Holy Spirit within me saying, “Again”? Unfortunately, I’m afraid the answer to that is too many to count. So, my hope is that, with the Holy Spirit gently prodding me and my two-year-old outwardly prompting me, that I can change this behavior. I want to start praying for people when I tell them I will pray for them – always – and with the same intensity that I pray for my own needs.