Family Talk Night Light for Couples

Duration: 365 days

PROTECTED BY PRAYER

by Cheri Fuller

The missionary rose and prepared to leave the campsite where he had spent the night en route to the city for medical supplies. He extinguished his small campfire, pulled on his canvas backpack, and hopped on his motorcycle to continue his ride through the African jungle. Every two weeks he made this two‐day journey to collect money from a bank and purchase medicine and supplies for the small field hospital where he served. When he completed those errands, he hopped on his bike again for the two‐day return trip.

When the missionary arrived in the city, he collected his money and medical supplies and was just about to leave for home when he saw two men fighting in the street. Since one of the men was seriously injured, the missionary stopped, treated him for his injuries, and shared the love of Christ with him. Then the missionary began his two‐day trek home, stopping in the jungle again to camp overnight.

Two weeks later, as was his custom, the missionary again made the journey to the city. As he ran his various errands, a young man approached him—the same man the missionary had ministered to during his previous trip. “I knew you carried money and medicine with you,” the man said, “so my friends and I followed you to your campsite in the jungle after you helped me in the street. We planned to kill you and take all the money and drugs. But just as we were about to move in and attack you, we saw twenty‐six armed guards surround and protect you.”

“You must be mistaken,” said the missionary. “I was all alone when I spent the night in the jungle. There were no guards or anyone else with me.”

“But sir, I wasn’t the only one who saw the guards. My five companions saw them, too. We counted them! There were twenty‐six bodyguards, too many for us to handle. Their presence stopped us from killing you.”

Months later, the missionary related this story to the congregation gathered at his home church in Michigan. As he spoke, one of the men listening stood up and interrupted him to ask the exact day the incident in the jungle had occurred. When the missionary identified the specific month and day of the week, the man told him “the rest of the story.”

“On the exact night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here in Michigan, and I was on the golf course. I was about to putt when I felt a strong urge to pray for you. The urge was so strong that I left the golf course and called some men of our church right here in this sanctuary to join me in praying for you. Would all you men who prayed with me that day stand up?”

The missionary wasn’t concerned with who the men were; he was too busy counting them, one by one. Finally he reached the last one. There were twenty‐six men—the exact number of “armed guards” the thwarted attacker had seen.

LOOKING AHEAD…

Do you ever find yourself so caught up in the busyness of life that you forget about or postpone a time of prayer? I’m sure the missionary in the story above is one man who was grateful his congregation took seriously the urge to pray!

My father, James Dobson Sr., also took his prayer life seriously. He was known to spend hours at a time on his knees in conversation with the Lord. At Dad’s request, the words “He Prayed” are written on the footstone of his grave. Through his example, and through God’s response, I learned firsthand the power and privilege of prayer. In the week to come let’s take a closer look at this awesome opportunity.

-James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • “Protected by Prayer” by Cheri Fuller. Taken from When Families Pray by Cheri Fuller. © 1999. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

Family Talk Night Light for Parents

Duration: 365 days

INNOCENT PETITIONS

by Robin Jones Gunn

When we lived in Nevada, my daughter Rachel had a best friend named Kristin. We moved to Portland, Oregon, only a few days before Rachel’s first day of second grade. Each night we talked about her new school and prayed together before she went to bed.

The night before school started, Rachel prayed that Jesus would give her a new best friend at this school and that her name would be Kristin. I felt compelled to alter her prayer but decided to let it go. How do I tell my child she shouldn’t be so specific with God?

The next morning, Rachel stood in front of the mirror while I combed her hair. She seemed lost in thought, and then suddenly she announced to me that Jesus was going to give her a new best friend. Her name would be Kristin, and she would have brown hair, just like the Kristin in Nevada.

I quickly ran through all my mental notes on prayer. What would be the best way to explain to this child that prayer is not telling God what we have in mind for Him to do, but rather seeking His mind? I tried a few flimsy sentences. All fell flat. She seemed undaunted. I drove her to school, still unable to find a way to protect her from her own prayer. I was afraid she would experience a spiritual crisis when she arrived at school and found no brunet Kristin in her class. What would that do to her innocent faith?

We entered the classroom, and Rachel found her name on her new desk. She lifted the top and began to examine the contents. I sat down at the desk next to hers and decided this would be a good time to explain how praying isn’t like wishing. It’s not magic. You can’t ask God for something and expect it to materialize at your command. She needed to be willing to accept whatever new friends God brought to her.

I was about to plunge in, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed the name of the student who would occupy the desk next to Rachel.

There, in bold black letters, was printed Kristin.

I could barely speak. “Rachel,” I finally managed in a whisper, “look! There is a Kristin in your class. And she’s going to sit right next to you!”

“I know, Mom. She’s the one I prayed for.”

The bell rang, and I practically staggered to the back of the classroom as the students began to come in. Rachel sat up straight, folded her hands on her desk, and grinned confidently.

I glued my eyes to that door. Four boys entered. Then a girl with blond hair who took a seat in the front row. Two more boys and then, there she was! She sauntered shyly to the “Kristin” desk, caught Rachel’s welcoming grin, and returned the same.

I probably don’t need to mention that she had brown hair—down to her waist.

Or that everything I really needed to know about prayer I learned in second grade.

LOOKING AHEAD…

Prayer is one of God’s most mysterious and remarkable gifts to us. It is our lifeline to heaven, our means to the most holy of relationships, our opportunity to directly express our praises and desires to the Creator of the universe. There is a power in this simple act that cannot fully be explained, yet can never be denied: “The prayer of a righteous man [or child] is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Of course, not every request made on your knees will be answered as quickly or easily as Rachel’s prayer for a friend. But encouraging your family to pray is always the right choice—in good times, in hard times, in moments of anxiety, and during periods of joy. If any gift from our heavenly Father is worth passing on to our children, it is the privilege of prayer. Let’s talk about it this week.

– James C Dobson

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Innocent Petitions” by Robin Jones Gunn. From Mothering by Heart by Robin Jones Gunn (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1996). Robin is the award-winning, bestselling author of over fifty books including the Christy Miller series for teens and the Glenbrooke series. Visit her Web site at http://www.robingunn.com. Used by permission of the author.