Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Praying with St. Anthony

St. Anthony must like kids...or at least my kids, because it seems as though they always find whatever they are praying for. (Not so for me.) Once their aunt called long-distance to ask them to pray for a lost wedding ring. They did, and five minutes later, she called to say she'd found it--in a huge load of laundry.

This morning, 7-year-old Andy couldn't find his coin purse. This was a big deal, since he planned to use his money to buy himself hot lunch. (We're too cheap and too wary of school food to shell out for hot lunches ourselves. $2.50 a day! Back in our day....) He looked and looked, but it was only after praying for help that he found it. (He reports having mashed potatoes and some unspecified meat.)

I am of two minds about praying to find lost items, especially with kids. On one hand, I don't want to inculcate a "magical" understanding of God in my kids--i.e., prayer as a way to magically get what you couldn't get otherwise. Nor do I want them to have an understanding of God as fast-food clerk ("Here to serve you, your way, 24/7!")

On the other hand, God seems to be leading the way here. They pray, God gives them what they want...who am I to interfere? We have been careful to place all of these "lost and found" prayers in context: "You know, we don't always get what we want when we pray. God is not magic or a machine; God is like a friend or a parent. He always gives us whatever is best for us." Sometime in the future God may lead them to a more relational prayer life. But for now, something tells me he delights in their simple faith.