Julie and I recently purchased a new bunk bed for our oldest two boys. In the interest of full disclosure…it is the first new bed that they have ever had. Also, their previous “hand-me-down” bed had broken several months ago and our oldest has been sleeping with his mattress on the floor since. Needless to say, it was time for a new one.
If you were to spend much time in my house, you would learn that:
- I’m not terribly handy.
- I want desperately to appear handy around my children.
- Missing pieces from “assembly required” items gives me brain damage (see points A and B).
Therefore it was with extreme frustration that I discovered that a crucial screw was missing from the new bunk bed. I had torn through all the packaging, retraced my steps and exhaled mightily over and over again. Yet, no screw was presenting itself. I was beginning to spiral down toward guttural incoherent growling when my sweet eight-year-old daughter grabbed my attention and said in the simplest and sweetest of voices, “Well, I guess we need to pray and ask Jesus to find it for us.”
I would like to say that I immediately pulled myself out of the funk I was descending into, that I recognized a wonderful moment of spiritual intergenerational modeling and that I gleefully dropped to one knee and prayed fervently for Jesus to provide. That was not the case. It took great intestinal fortitude to refrain from openly growling at my innocent daughter. Yet, more to her credit than mine, I managed to squeeze out, “Sure Bella. Lets do that.” My prayer was not powerful. It was not passionate. Nor was it expectant. It was obligatory. In all honesty, it was done mostly to placate my daughter.
Then we found the screw.
Not more than two minutes later did the solution present itself. I found the screw buried under papers I was certain I had checked under previously. Within minutes after that, we had the bed completed and my wife was busily arranging blankets on the boy’s new beds.
Later that night, as I tucked Bella in, we talked about how great it was that God answered our prayer.
Here is the thing—Bella’s prayer was powerful. It was passionate. And most importantly, it was expectant. It is the only way Bella knows how to pray. Luckily, she has not learned otherwise. She is quickly becoming the prayer warrior of our family. Whatever the issue or need, she takes it to Jesus; assuming He will answer and provide. She does not get held up by the esoteric arguments about Free Will versus Determinism. There are no existential wrestling’s with the sovereignty of God. It is simple for her.
She loves Jesus.
She knows Jesus loves her.
Therefore, she expects Him to answer.
I smile big and broad as I write this. My kids teach me so much more than I teach them some days. How different might my prayer life be if I condensed things down to Bella’s three points?
I love Jesus.
He loves me.
Therefore I expect Him to answer.
God is not a cosmic vending machine. He is not waiting to pump out blessings if we pump in prayers. Yet it is clear to me that He will most often go where He is expected.
Are you praying expecting God to answer? Or have your prayers turned into unrighteous obligation? If so, revisit Bella’s big three:
You love Jesus.
He loves you.
Therefore you can expect Him to answer.