A Potpourri of Prayer

by Joe McKeever

The first time I met Jennifer, she and her mother were visiting our church. Following the sermon, this six-year-old came down the aisle in tears. She looked up at me and said in a tiny voice, "My little bird died today and I am so sad." I sensed something of the way our heavenly Father must feel when His children hurt: if it matters to us, it matters to Him. We prayed together and I gave her a big hug, and have loved her ever since.
In a sermon I told the congregation that a mother's prayers are given a special welcome in heaven, that they go straight to the head of the line. A mother in the congregation took that as a personal word from the Father, as she had just been on the phone with her adult daughter who needed mom's intercession over a matter. The next night, she walked into our fellowship hall where members were gathering to make phone calls and write post cards to missing class members. She pulled out a chair, sat down, and reached into a pile for a post card. The picture on the front of the card startled her: A mother was on her knees praying at her child's bed, surrounded by the clutter of a pre-teen's life: Raggedy Ann dolls, lacy pillows, and posters. In the foreground loomed the shadow of the daughter with twin ponytails, watching her mom intercede for her.
This mother said to me, "My daughter's room is filled with Raggedy Ann dolls. And she wore her hair in that way. That could have been a picture of us." That is one mother who knows that God welcomes her prayers.
A generation ago I came across the story of China missionary Rosalind Goforth who traveled the land speaking to church groups about prayer. She told how on one occasion she could not find her hat pin (remember those?) and prayed that the Lord would show it to her. Afterward, someone said, "Don't you think it's an insult to God to pray about such trivial matters?" Mrs. Goforth's answer has stayed with me all these years. "Friend," she said, "the God of the infinite is also the God of the infinitesimal."
The cartoon of mine which has gotten the most play over the last three decades is a simple drawing of a fellow on his knees at the bedside. He is praying, "Lord, I'm tired. Amen." In her wonderful book, Legacy of a Pack Rat, the inimitable Ruth Graham tells of a letter that arrived at their office one day from a very serious four-year-old. "Please pray I'll catch a lizard," he said. Mrs. Graham loved the prayer and writes, "Not once has (God) ever said, Don't bother me. Don't you see I'm busy?' And He so well could-with the world in its present condition."
She continues, "Each person is special to Him who calls every star by name, who has the hairs on our heads numbered, and who knows the number of grains of sand on the ocean shores."
Then Ruth Graham shared a little poem by Amy Carmichael-another of God's originals-which prompted this article in the first place.
And then a little laughing prayer Came running up the sky, Above the golden gutters, where The sorry prayers go by. It had no fear of anything, But in that holy place It found the very throne of God And smiled up in His face.
"Father, you have invited us to pray about everything.' The fact that I haven't always done so is no reflection on Your greatness or love. I just have a hard time believing You could love a loser like me. The cross of Jesus says otherwise, doesn't it? Says it loud and clear. Since You love me fiercely and desire only my good, would You forgive me for all the sorry prayers I've sent Your way. Help me to believe in You, my Lord. And to truly, truly pray to You about the things and the people that matter to me most in this world. Amen."
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