I was always that kid who believed with all her heart that it would snow, any time it was super cold and rainy in my Florida panhandle hometown of Milton. I remember one night, about midnight, standing outside under our streetlamp, looking up at the sky and feeling the cold raindrops sting my face, and praying my heart out that God would make it snow. I believed at any moment that He would. I went to bed believing that, by morning, I would wake up to a winter wonderland.
I remember when our animals were sick or dying, I would pray, pray, pray for them to be well. One of my cats had kittens. One of the kittens was the runt of the litter, and it wasn’t going to make it. I prayed and prayed for that kitten. I even did a Jericho march. I was raised in a Pentecostal church. We did Jericho marches regularly. If you don’t know what a Jericho march is, well, it’s where you march in line around the church, everyone praying and singing. It was always exciting for us kids when the church service would turn into a Jericho march.
(What the heck is a Jericho march? It’s based on the Bible story from the book of Joshua. Where the Israelites are told by God to conquer the land. He tells them to march around the walled city of Jericho once a day for six days, and on the seventh to march around it seven times. Then, they shouted loudly and the walls of Jericho fell down before them, and they were able to win the battle.)
When you pray and pray for snow and it doesn’t come, and when you pray for a kitten that dies anyway…where does that leave your faith when you’re an impressionable child? I have thought about this but never written it out. We’ll see how this goes.
I think we shouldn’t tell kids that God will do as they ask. It sets them up to be sorely disillusioned with life. Because the truth is, not everyone gets healed. Not everything you pray for will happen. Even if you pray with all the faith you can muster. We should prepare kids for the possibility that what they pray for may not happen. For one extremely important reason: Because their faith should not be in whether or not God answers a specific request. Their faith should be in God Himself.
Let me explain. Faith in God for Who He is means trusting that He is good no matter what happens. I think true, deep faith doesn’t rely on whether He makes it snow or heals a kitten. True faith doesn’t question God’s love for you based on how He answers your prayer. It doesn’t question whether or not you are saved based on the fact that He didn’t answer your prayer the way you requested it. It has taken me a long time to see this. In adulthood, that would translate to us praying for things that matter to us…like financial freedom or success, healing in our bodies, etc.
When God’s answer is opposite of what you requested, how do you deal? What are you going to do? Because more often than not, He chooses to change our hearts and form our character while we’re going through that uncomfortable or terrible circumstance. He doesn’t often choose to just heal our bodies out of the blue, or give us $10,000 so life would be easier. That’s not to say that He doesn’t do those things. He does! He definitely has the power! I do not question His power or His ability to come to my aid. My question is: Will He? Is it His will?
I don’t know. But because I don’t know whether it’s His will or not doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. I believe Him. My faith means that I believe that He will answer in the best possible way, and He will always take care of me. Even when He answers opposite of what I requested. Even when my faith-filled prayer doesn’t get what it wants. He is good. No matter what. He knows best. He never promised He would deliver us from every trial or hard time. What He promised is that He is with us forever.
So because He is good, we trust Him. We still pray. For snow and for kittens. And sometimes He will answer and it will snow! And the kitten miraculously lives! But for the times that it doesn’t snow and the kitten doesn’t live, He still knows best. And He still loves us just as much as if He had given them to us.