“I am doubting God’s existence because I’ve prayed and He hasn’t answered.”
This is the comment a child made in Sunday School. As teachers, sometimes we say to children, God answers prayer. A child may perceive that God will answer all of his prayers with a ‘yes.’ When God doesn’t, the child can lose faith. To make this matter worse, the boy’s father doubts God’s existence and shares this with his son. So what was my response?
First, I asked him who is the boss, him or God. His answer was God and I explained that God is in control of the whole planet and all the billions of people who live on earth. He has to take our prayer into consideration of everyone around us and the outcome of each. I explained if we are praying it won’t rain for our birthday party and another person is praying for rain, God may need to send the rain. I also explained how rain helps our environment (living in New Orleans rain, floods, and hurricanes are a continual problem).
I also briefly explained God’s three answers to our prayers: yes, wait, and no. Just as our parents answer yes, wait, and no, so does God. I taught him the catchy CEFpress song, I Can Pray (tune, Oh Be Careful Little Eyes), that teaches this concept.
That afternoon, I wondered if the boy is asking God to help him be good (he is quite active and easily distracted). This is a common prayer request of children and active ones may feel hopeless. I believe this is the wait answer children need to understand. Many prayers take time and don’t happen overnight, some prayers only come with maturity. God can use our struggles to glorify His name too. However, we can keep praying and keep knocking until the answer comes, (Matthew 7: 7-11).
Did my explanation help the boy? After Sunday School, in our worship service, he asked prayer for his dad, requesting that his dad would believe too! Will I need to remind him of this again in the future? Probably, that’s the privilege of feeding God’s little lambs! Please pray for the boy and also that his parents will come to faith too.