Have you ever learned one of life's greatest lessons from a 4-year-old? I had the privilege of doing just that when I dropped my granddaughter, Peyton, off for preschool at Valleydale Church in Birmingham, Ala.
We walked down the long hallway and, just as we approached her classroom, I said, "Have a great day!"
Peyton said, " Wait, Gram. Aren't you going to pray with me?"
"What?" I asked.
"My mom always stops right outside my classroom and prays with me before I go in every morning," Peyton explained.
"Well... Hmmm... What does she pray about?" I asked.
"She asks God to help me have a great day, to mind the teacher, to behave and do the right thing" she said.
"Oh... well... Hmm... I can do that..." I stammered.
I got down on my knees, held Peyton's hands and prayed: "Dear Lord, help Peyton to have a really great day in her class and help her to be on her best behavior and to listen to the teacher and follow directions. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Peyton immediately ran into the classroom as if she expected to have the best day of her life and I stood outside the door for a few moments in a fog, thinking about what had just happened. I walked slowly to the car with these thoughts running through my head: Wow, what a wonderful daughter-in-law I have -- one who prays every day before school with her daughter, my precious grand.
That one thought led me to a much greater thought: What if all parents prayed with their children before school every morning? Our world would surely look different. Then an overwhelming thought hit me: I never did that with my kids. I had such guilt at that moment. The guilt was large and very real, and I had to deal with the fact that I would probably not win any "Mother of the Year" Awards for how I had raised my children.
My daughter-in-law was doing a much better job in the "Christian" parenting department than I ever did -- that was painful to admit, but at the same time, it was so uplifting.
A day or two following that incident, Peyton was strapped in her car seat in the back of my SUV and we were on one of the busy interstates south of Birmingham. An ambulance came around us with sirens screaming, and I slowed to let it pass.
"Gram," Peyton said, "My mom always prays when we hear an ambulance."
"What does she pray?" I asked.
"She prays for God to take care of that person inside."
OK, I can do that, I thought. I prayed, "Dear God, please be with that person inside that ambulance and help him to be OK."
"Gram," Peyton said, "My mom prays another prayer, too."
"What is it?" I asked.
"She prays that if that person does not know God, please don't let him die yet."
"Do you think I should pray that prayer too?" I asked.
"Yes ma'am," she said.
"OK," I said. "Dear God, if that person in the ambulance doesn't know You yet, please don't let him die. Please give him time to learn about You," I prayed.
My life has not been the same since that special week in Birmingham with Peyton when she was a 4-year-old. To this very day, I cannot pass an ambulance without praying. I pray the first prayer, the one about making sure the person is physically OK. But, I always find myself unable to skip the second prayer -- "Please don't let that person die if he doesn't know You yet."
Is that powerful, or what?
Thank you Peyton. You have changed my prayer life forever.