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.