Pray like you mean it

Helping children learn about God's care

I had a favorite place to go when I was a kid in Michigan - my brother's tree fort. It was fun to be up so high. It made me feel special to be in a little room surrounded by tree branches, and to imagine what it would be like to live up there. Mom would send up a pail with sandwiches and something to drink. It was a picnic in the sky. Nothing bad could reach me there, too high up for bad to reach. If it had been my tree fort, I would have put up curtains and a picture or two, brought a doll to share my sandwich with. Still, it was pretty perfect just the way it was, as I looked up at the sky and watched the clouds and the top of the tree move with every breeze.

There was only one problem. I could go up, but I couldn't get down. You see, going up, I never looked back or down. But going down, well, let's just say the ground looked very, very far away. I had to wait until someone bigger and stronger could guide my feet from one foothold to the next. Once I was safely on the ground, I would want to go up again, but my brother would say, "No, not until you can go up and down on your own."

There is a story I wish I had read when I was trying to get up to and down from the tree fort. It's called, "And I mean it!" It's from the Christian Science Sentinel of July 27, 1946. The story is about a little girl named Jean who was afraid of puddles. That may sound strange, but when she saw a puddle, she'd be worried that it would be too deep for her. She lived on a farm and had to walk on a dirt road to the bus stop for school every day.

One night it was raining, and she told her grandmother she was afraid there would be puddles on the road. Her grandmother told her to remember the hymn "Feed My Sheep," by Mary Baker Eddy, that begins, "Shepherd, show me how to go" ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 304). So the next day, Jean started out, and sure enough, there, right in the middle of the road, was one big puddle. Too big to walk around. So she had to walk through the puddle. Her grandfather was watching her from a distance as he worked in the garden. He heard her saying when she faced the puddle, "Shepherd, show me how to go, AND I MEAN IT!" She turned to God, like a shepherd, and she made sure her prayer was really strong.

You can pray and say "And I mean it!" for just about anything, like this: "I know that nothing is too big or too sad or too bad for God, AND I MEAN IT."

A lot of things have been happening lately that are hard for everyone - grown-ups and kids - to see and hear about. Maybe you know what it's like to be worried, even scared. It may not be just puddles and trees that you think are too hard for God to help you with. If we feel far away from God or forget God is always with us, we could feel alone, believing in God but believing in evil, too. It's like looking down and seeing only the ground, not the tree. So here's a tip. Prayer is a way of remembering that good is always enough to help you, and that good never changes. God will guide you.

In my Sunday School, I learned a prayer for children:

Father-Mother God, Loving me, -

Guard me when I sleep;

Guide my little feet Up to Thee.

(This prayer is also by Mrs. Eddy, and it's on page 400 of her book "Miscellaneous Writings.") God guards you all the time, even when you are asleep. God is guiding your footsteps in puddles, on the way to school, and on the way home, too.

Kid prayer is just as powerful as grown-up prayer - maybe even more powerful, when you mean it. You can do more than just wish - more than just "God, I wish I could come down from this tree fort." Prayer is more powerful than that. Instead, you can pray, "God, You can help me through anything sad or bad. You are all good. You always care for me and for everyone." You can say it and pray it and mean it, too!

The prayer of an innocent

person is powerful,

and it can help a lot.

James 5:16

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