2 Chronicles 20: Everyone in Judah was there – little children, wives, sons – all present and attentive to God.
It’s not as though Judah is a world superpower or anything like that. It’s a small nation surrounded by other small nations that are situated between some very big players on the world scene. When Jehoshaphat receives word that some of the neighboring countries have united to attack Judah he knows he’s in big trouble. We’re told, “Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed.” Not only does the king pray but he calls his nation to prayer and fasting. They cry out to God to literally save their lives, reminding the Lord that they’re descendants of Abraham. It’s a desperate crowd that gathers in Jerusalem to cry out to God. And everyone’s there. It’s not just the soldiers or the leaders or even the heads of households. Everyone comes: men, women, and children. I can just imagine the children looking on wide-eyed as their parents and all the other adults cry out to God for his intervention. I know that the purpose of this story isn’t for me to think about children and prayer meetings and such, but the topic does come to mind. In most churches today we tend to divide families. Children go to some program organized just for them and teens are placed under the ministry of some capable youth leader. The adults, then, have “their” Bible study or prayer meeting. Generally speaking, I’m all for it. After all, I don’t want to see the kids just marking time while the parents talk about things that are meaningless to the boys and girls. Still, there’s something powerful in children seeing their parents pray heartfelt prayers or watching their parents be involved in a passionate discussion about the things of God. They might not understand all that’s going on but they understand that these spiritual things matter to the grownups. I’m not suggesting that we do away with Children’s Church or the Youth program of the church but I do think that we ought not to be in too big a hurry to dismiss them from all adult oriented activities of the church.
Take Away: If children never see their parents pray intercessory prayers and worship from the depths of their hearts how will they ever learn to do such things?