this weekend was my first big event with my 5th grade smasH (students ministering and serving Him) group at dawson. the objective of smasH is for them to grow closer to God while growing closer to each other. i couldn’t wait to walk through the mission smasH event with them. this night is designed to cause them to work together through a series of cd clues and complete missions through activities hidden around the church. this night requires specific planning and we even try to stay on a schedule. it was great fun watching them work with the smasH ball, which always had to have a palm on it. if the ball was left without a palm pressed on it for more than three seconds they had to add another palm. with only three palms on the ball after six hours, i was convinced this was a focused crew of kids. they worked together beautifully on all the other activities (i.e. the bull ring, the ping-pong support relay, the blindfold walk, the light in the darkness searching for their smasH shirts, and more) and the night was going exactly how it was planned. well, that was until we got to the last experience.
planned last was a time where the smasH students wrote a prayer to God about the remainder of their smasH year. each child spent a great deal of time writing this prayer and then they brought it up to the lock box at the foot of the cross. their prayers will be locked up until the end of the year and then they will receive them back to discover how God had answered their prayers. we finished this activity at 11:40p.m. and i promised parents their children would be ready for pick-up at midnight. no sweat, i had just enough time to finish what i had prepared — the adult leaders were to pray over the smasH students. as i was explaining this to the students, one student asked, “well, can we pray, too?” i will be honest, the first thought that ran through my mind was that they had just prayed in their letters, but as one of their leaders how could i tell them they couldn’t pray? so i said sure, thinking it would all go quick and fit in the nice package i had organized for the evening. i am so thankful that God pushes me out of the way when He wants to work.
what happened next was orchestrated by God and as one of my leaders stated, “we had church.” for the next 20 minutes child after child prayed humble, specific prayers about everything from their upcoming year at church, to the children and families in connecticuit, and then for a family in our church whose daughter had passed away in the fall. it was a holy moment. i sat there in awe and profoundly convicted. these kids poured out request after request to their Heavenly Father. as a leader with a plan i knew this might effect my schedule, but i sat quietly and they continued to pray. after a while, there was finally a break in the consistent prayers and i wrapped our time up and we went hurrying off (just a couple minutes late) to where their parents were waiting for pick up.
out of the six hours we spent together as a group it was the last bit that really drew us all closer to Him, and i had nothing to do with it. i kept hearing, “danielle, stop worrying so much about the plan and what you prepared, and let the children pray.” i constantly state that i believe that children are not the church of tomorrow, but the church of today, but i now see when it comes to prayer my actions don’t match my words. where am i intentionally giving children opportunities to pray not only in dawson kids, but in the church as a whole? i have often said if i am ever in need of great prayer i will welcome anyone’s prayers, but please let the children pray for me. let the ones who pray passionately believing and leaving their requests at their Father’s feet intercede for me. this group was a prime example.
i am reminded once again that children need to be given purposed time to pray. we not only need to provide the time, but teach them and challenge them to make prayer a priority. this lesson, like every other lesson, begins with me. i hear it loud and clear and it is still ringing in my ears — let the children pray. may their passionate prayers of faith and hunger to learn and live His Word change our world and bring glory to God.