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Does God Favor the Prayers of a Child?

April 4, AD2017

When I was a kid I went to a Catholic school, one of the nuns told us that God favors the prayers of a child. That statement stuck with me, like a rule to live by. Now, there really isn’t anything in the Bible that states exactly that. But, among the verses I also took to heart were the ones urging us to become like children (Matt 18:3; Luke 18:17, Matt 19:14.) Jesus made it clear that God wanted us to retain certain childlike qualities. In my eight-year-old mind, these verses convinced me that Sister was right. I proceeded through life believing her, and I was rewarded with many situations that reinforced Sister’s claim. Three particular incidents come to mind, the ones that really cemented my faith in God.

A Dog Sent by God

A few years after Sister assured us that our childish prayers were a treasure to God, a new neighbor moved next door to us. They had a dog that I just fell in love with. He was a steel gray color, and the owners said he was part poodle and part Kerry blue terrier. The best part was his personality, perky, playful, obedient, and very loving. His name was Bobo.

I often took Bobo for walks, played with him, brought him into my home, and came to love him like my own. The neighbors didn’t mind at all when I’d come by to see if Bobo could play. But soon, tragedy struck sweet Bobo. He was diagnosed with distemper, and when he died shortly afterward, I was as brokenhearted as his owners. Though I prayed for his recovery, I guess God saw fit to say “No.” By this time these people had also become dear to me, and I’d visit them frequently. For a young girl to have such a warm, supportive relationship was truly a gift from God. But the blessings from knowing Bobo didn’t end there. I remembered that God favors children’s prayers.

One day, in my grief, and while I was taking a bath, I just put my head down on the faucet and began sobbing. I asked God to please send me another dog just like Bobo. After a few minutes of repeating that prayer to exhaustion, there was only one thing I could think of to improve on Bobo. So, the prayer developed into this: “Please, God, help me find a dog just like Bobo; same personality, Kerry blue and poodle, same sweet disposition; but, could you please make him black instead of gray?” Immediately, I sensed my own arrogance, like I’d overdone it, and backed off. “No, never mind the color, any color will do, but please, God, please let me have a dog like Bobo.”

What made that so crazy is that we were renting the house we lived in and the lease wouldn’t allow us to have a dog. About a year later, though, my parents bought a home, which meant we could have a dog. Again, I began nagging God. After all, Jesus told us to when He taught the parable of the old woman and the judge. Even at my young age, I knew that story (Luke 18:1-8.) Doesn’t every kid want to be encouraged to nag until he gets what he wants?

It happened that the fair was set for the next week. I called my Mom at work to see if she would drive me past the billboard to see what events and entertainment were scheduled. She didn’t want to go there in the five o’clock traffic, and I realized I could find the events in the newspaper when it came. But then, she changed her mind and decided we’d drive by the fairgrounds, and stop for hamburgers to take home. It was perfect.

While we waited in line to order our dinner, we heard tires screech on the four-lane highway behind us. Mom spotted the cutest black puppy weaving between the cars. She stepped out into the lanes on our side to stop the traffic and grabbed the puppy. For a woman who didn’t even want to drive in that traffic, she surprised me by stepping into it, and successfully stopping all four lanes.

Naturally, my Dad said we couldn’t keep him. But no one ran an ad for him, either. After two weeks of watching Dad secretively petting the puppy under the coffee table, sharing his evening cookies with him, and basically bonding with him, I knew the little black furball was ours. Mom named him Pierre.

But in my heart, he was Bobo. And I was certain of that when I asked the vet what breed he was. He mentioned a mix of several breeds. Kerry blue and poodle or cocker spaniel were at the top of his list. I almost cried, knowing God had answered my detailed bathtub prayer, to a “T”.

I thought back about all the obstacles that had to be overcome for God to send us a dog, this dog. We needed a home where we could have a dog; moving when we did; Mom deciding to drive through the traffic she always avoided; Dad reneging on his decision that we can’t have a dog; no one posting a notice of a lost dog; his personality truly being like Bobo’s; and, he was black. God didn’t forget a thing.

I absolutely knew, not just believed, that God favors a child’s prayer.

God’s Just-In-Time Provisions

Liz, my best friend, her brother, Gerry, and I decided to see a movie at the theater about 3 miles away – just far enough to have to take the bus. In the 60s the theaters showed double features, and that called for an intermission between movies. And during intermission, we all got snacks. But, then, when we counted up our money we were 30¢ short of the bus fare to get home. Gerry offered to panhandle for the needed cash, but I told him, “No, I’ll find it in the coin returns.” So, I marched off to check all the telephones and cigarette machines in the theater, upstairs and down. Finding nothing discouraged and scared me. With intermission almost over, I considered asking Gerry to do his pan-handing thing. Something prompted me to try the coin returns one more time, this time praying, and trusting that God favors children’s prayers.

Knowing that He already knew, I explained to Him the fix we were in, how much money we needed, and how far from home we were – a pathetic prayer, at best. I mean, how many times did Jesus walk three miles and much more?On second thought, He probably prayed all the way, asking for food and a place to sleep along with teaching the Apostles. Maybe we had just one little thing in common – needing assistance.

And then it happened. I found a quarter in a payphone and a nickel in the cigarette machine. None of the denominations matched the amounts each machine required. Why would I find a quarter in a 10¢ phone or a nickel in a machine that normally took a quarter? And how is it that what I found was the exact amount we prayed for?I looked up and grinned my “thank-you”, knowing that God was favoring a child’s (umm, adolescent’s) prayer, again. And He kept us from getting in trouble with our parents by getting us home on time.

Passing the Faith On

Many years later, as a mom with two daughters, aged four and eight, that sweet nun’s assurance made a change in our lives. This one is as close to a miracle as it gets. Dartanian, our cat, couldn’t have been loved more by any of us. We never let him outside unless we were around to let him back in. One day, however, he managed to get out before we all left for work and school, and no one knew this. Around nine in the morning I got a call, at work, from a neighbor. Now, this was unusual. I didn’t know him well, and he had no reason to know where I worked. I would have asked, and still wonder, but what he said made none of that important.

“Hi, Michele. Do you have a white cat with a black tail?”

“Yes, is he OK?”

“Well, I don’t know. When I started my car this morning, I heard a cat screech, and a thump in the engine. Then I saw him run from my car to your bushes. I tried to find him but couldn’t. So, I don’t know if he’s OK. But I wanted to let you know as soon as possible.”

Fortunately, my boss was very understanding and let me go home. I worried every second of that 30-minute drive that I’d get there too late. When I finally found him in the bushes, he looked stunned. He had a gash on his head, but bleeding only a little. He wouldn’t come out of the bushes to greet me – not a good sign. After untangling him from the bramble, I rushed him to the vet.

The news wasn’t good. His eyes were fixed and dilated, a pretty solid diagnosis of terminal brain damage. I was just sick. They asked if I wanted to put him down. I just couldn’t give up that easily. It had only been about two hours since the accident. As a respiratory therapist, I knew without a doubt that “eyes fixed and dilated” was not reversible. It was a death warrant. But I wasn’t ready to make that decision. I asked them to just keep him overnight, and I’d decide the next day.

When my husband got home from work, and our daughters home from school I told them what happened. Then I took the girls aside and shared what Sister had told me– that God favors children’s prayers. I asked them to pray for their kitty to make a full recovery, and to trust that God would do this for them. We prayed together. Then we all cried and told stories about our amazing little pet.

The vet called early the next morning before anyone left the house. I braced myself, ready to hear the worst. What I heard was beyond belief. Her words, “Your kitty is just fine. You can take him home whenever you want” overwhelmed me. I cried so hard it was difficult to let everyone know it was good news – that God had, once again, favored the prayers of children, and He gave us what we still believe to be a miracle.

Events like these occur frequently, and probably to everyone who prays if they’d just notice. But it took one special nun to point out how precious our prayers are to God, and especially, how immensely powerful children’s prayers can be.

Guest contributor: Michele Boyer

Photography: See our Photographers page.

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  • 1IrishRose1

    What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sue Korlan

    I once asked some children why God tends to hear their prayers so much better than ours. Mara answered, “Because they’re closer to their baptism.” I think that might be right.

  • Caine

    When I was a kid my brothers and I prayed to God and the Blessed Mother for the Minnesota Twins to win game seven of the 1987 World Series (during the seventh inning stretch). You’re welcome Minnesota.

  • Mark McCann

    I thought it was a beautiful story. Why these things happen like the man in the previous post described is a mystery, but I refuse to blame God. God is a relational God who loves us as a father loves his children. I have seen similar little miracles happen in my life and the lives of my children. I know God loves us as His sons and daughters, and I will continue to call Him my Father. Even Jesus said that if a human father knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more will our heavenly Father give good things to us. I was truly touched by your story and so happy that you shared it. Be blessed!

    • M. Boyer

      Thank you, Mark. Whenever I begin to doubt, memories like these help me regain my faith. My hope is that this story did what you said, remind people of their own personal miracles.

  • Michael

    After what just happened with the gas attack in Syria, no – god clearly doesn’t care about children at all.

    • Matthew

      How foolish, to ascribe such cowardly and evil acts to God when they are evidently the sins of humanity. Free will is exactly that, for individuals and societies alike. And sometimes, we abuse it terribly.

    • Larry Jackson

      Pray for Michael. He is an atheist that around attacking people’s positive remarks about religion. (Read his other comments.) If someone is so positive that God doesn’t exist then why bother to excoriate others who do? Being nasty to them won’t make them atheists, so evidently it is a mental issue. This was a very positive and uplifting article and didn’t deserve a snarky comment so we must pray for Michael’s anger issues to heal.

    • Caine

      Michael, you’re correct in saying that, “god clearly doesn’t care about children.” But, “God” certainly does. And taking into account mankind’s free will, I think God allows such things to happen so that his followers are moved to action so that something good will come from it.

    • Howard

      Don’t make the mistake of Job’s friends by trying to devise any pat explanation. Maybe, maybe, the saints in Heaven know the full answer, or maybe suffering and sin will always be a mystery incomprehensible to us.

    • Caine

      Howard, I’m not sure what “pat” necessarily means, but, I don’t think I did devise a conclusive explanation for suffering. No one really knows the mind of God but God. It does make sense, though, in my opinion, that suffering is meant to bring about good. Look at Christ’s life. With roughly three years of public life, Jesus transformed the world for thousands of years. That’s astounding considering intellectual giants like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle had a combined contribution of over a century of public teaching. The impact of Jesus’s brutal suffering and death in the passion teaches us profoundly more, and impacts us so much deeper, then a lifetime of the likes of three great philosophers.

    • Howard

      You would have done well if you had said, “No one really knows the mind of God but God,” and had left it at that. That is not what you did. You said, “I think God allows such things to happen so that his followers are moved to action so that something good will come from it.” What “action” do you have in mind that would cause a mother whose son has committed suicide to say it was worth it?

      Only by faith can we be sure such things actually do work toward good, but by reason we can see that no good in this world is worth the evil and the suffering. They must be for a good in the next world, and only in the next world will we have a hope of understanding.

      Job’s friends did well so long as they sat quietly with their suffering friend. It was when they began to speculate on the theology behind his suffering in an attempt to defend God that they sinned.

    • Caine

      You seem to be nitpicking here. To the original point of Michael’s post that questioned what good could come from a Sarin gas attack resulting in the death of children by Assad. Well, I can think of a few good political actions off the bat that came in response from this incident: First, Trump enforced the Chemical Weapons Convention precepts, of which were agreed to by Syria, which states that the world doesn’t want anyone dying such horrendous deaths through the use of chem/bio weapons. So, hopefully the U.S.’s response will deter similar future events. Second, with North Korea, and potentially Iran, threatening nuclear war, it lets them know that we no longer have feckless leadership in D.C. We have leadership that is willing to take action against dictators. Third, it demonstrates that Trump isn’t controlled by the Russians. I could easily go on.
      In response to your question about suicide, I think there could be some solace to be found by the mother if corrective action is taken. We can’t judge the state of mind of individuals who commit suicide, so no one knows if they automatically go to hell. So there’s still some hope there. Additionally, if that incident serves to stop others from following the same path through education and practice, it could very well save dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of other lives. I think there might be some solace found in that.
      When you say, “Job’s friends did well so long as they sat quietly with their suffering friend. It was when they began to speculate on the theology behind his suffering in an attempt to defend God that they sinned,” I think you should reexamine yourself. While it may be particular to this situation, (it’s been a while since I’ve read Job) that’s an irresponsible way to go through life. You’d never grow as an individual if you stop yourself from asking questions and trying to improve.

    • Howard

      If we’re talking about this specific incident, I have moderate doubts about the US version of the story, which fits so nicely into the narrative certain powerful Americans wish to advance, but I have much graver doubts that Trump is one of God’s followers who was moved by the Holy Spirit to launch cruise missiles. The idea that God permitted the deaths by poison gas in order to draw the USA into a deeper military engagement is not persuasive; if you’re trying to guess the plans of God, your guesses seem to have a peculiar skew to them.

      If we’re talking about the general case, I stand entirely by what I said. However, the detail about the mother whose son committed suicide does not come, as I now see, from this article, but from another I had read about the same time, and in which there was also a discussion of the problems of evil and suffering.