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Alicia’s Prayer

As I passed the adult Bible fellowship on the way to my classroom of precocious 4- and 5-year-olds, I could see all my friends laughing and eating doughnuts. With an envious twinge, I silently wondered why I’d ever volunteered to teach these little ones.

Their teacher had led the class for several years without a break, until one morning I noticed her looking especially tired. I wanted to help, so I offered to teach with her. At first I was so enthusiastic about the challenge of teaching kids, I spent a great deal of time thinking of new, creative ways to teach the lessons and engage the kids. Before long, though, it became difficult to remember that enthusiasm — and it was even more difficult to muster new, heartfelt enthusiasm. I’d only been teaching the class part-time for three months, and here I was wishing I’d never made the commitment.

I tried to cover up my weariness with a smile before I stepped inside the classroom of rambunctious kids. Right away, little Alicia greeted me with a hug. Alicia always had a smile. She was a sweet girl, and her hug gave me stamina to face the hour.

We started every class by sitting in a circle for prayer time, and Alicia sat next to me. Each week we gave everyone a chance to pray. Without fail, the kids prayed for themselves or for a boo-boo they wanted God to fix. This Sunday, though, I challenged them.

“This morning let’s do something different. Instead of praying for ourselves, let’s pray for someone else,” I said. “I know a lot of us have boo-boos, but today let’s think about somebody else.”

The kids all thought this was a good idea. Before we prayed, we took turns telling everyone about the person we were going to pray for. I went last. I decided to be very honest with the children and tell them about someone who needed our prayers.

“I’d like to pray for my sister,” I said. “She’s getting a divorce. Divorce is when mommies and daddies don’t live together anymore, and that’s not the way God wants it to be.”

Together, we bowed our heads and closed our eyes.

It was then that Alicia leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Miss Jennifer, can I pray for your sister?”

Startled, I nodded. As the children prayed, I wondered what Alicia would say. How much had she gotten out of my rough explanation of divorce? Maybe my request was too much for these small children.

Finally it was Alicia’s turn. I felt a tiny, warm hand on my back. Alicia rubbed my back, comforting me as she prayed this simple prayer: “God, please help Miss Jennifer’s sister. Just let her know that you love her. Amen.”

There was a silent pause before I ended our prayer. We raised our heads, and I looked at Alicia and mouthed the words, “Thank you.” The prayer she prayed was exactly what my sister — and I — needed.

It was difficult to concentrate the rest of the hour. That morning I’d come to church with a terrible case of the “I’s” — “Why did I ever volunteer to do this?” “I want to be in adult Bible fellowship with my friends, eating doughnuts and laughing,” “I don’t want to teach today.”

Since that day, I’ve never read Jesus’ words about “becoming like children” in the same way. Alicia’s simple prayer — and her kind, comforting touch — got my heart’s attention. God used Alicia that morning; there’s no doubt about it. He used her compassion and gentleness to remind me that teaching children is an honor, because every day they show us God’s heart in ways we can never even imagine.

Jennifer Brackemyre


One response to "Alicia’s Prayer". Comments are closed for this post.
  • Just a simple, childlike prayer, but oh, so powerful! It brings to light what Jesus probably meant when He said, “You must become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Children who are taught about God seem to have genuine faith.