Vanessa is a regular contributor to Impress Your Kids. She is a stay-at-home mom to an energetic three-year-old, Juliet. They spend their days together reading books, attempting crafts, and occasionally beating tree trunks with large sticks. You can read more about their adventures at Silly Eagle Books
My first child was born to us almost 4 years ago and as new parents, we have been trying our best to impress her with God’s love and His Word. We’ve never parented a child before, so a lot of what we do is trial and error.
Prayer is one of those things that we, as adults who were both raised in Christian homes, take for granted. I mean, we can’t remember a time when we didn’t know how to pray! But faced with this new little creature, we realized it was something we needed to model for her and to teach her–it was something we couldn’t afford to just hope she picked up along the way. We needed to be intentional about it.
But how do you teach a baby to pray? We had no idea. The best we could come up with was just praying aloud with her every night before we tucked her into bed. Mostly, she just cooed and gurgled and swatted at the ceiling fan pull.
When she started talking, we tried to get her to repeat what we were saying. But if you’ve ever tried to get a toddler to do something on command, you know that this is a losing endeavor. The chatty, talkative child who rambled on and on all day long would suddenly become a mute once prayer time rolled around.
No big deal. We just continued to pray with her and hoped that she would be soaking it in.
Most of our prayers focused on THANKFULNESS and OTHERS. We thanked God for our daughter and all the blessings in our life and we prayed for our family members who were sick or friends in need. We prayed for our Compassion children and missionaries we support.
We NEVER prayed for ourselves. Not that we didn’t ask God for help daily with parenting and jobs and life, but what I mean is we never did it in front of our daughter. Our prayers in front of her were always outward focused. She never heard us humbly ask God to give us grace and strength and help.
Never, that is, until one day in January.
The background story is that Ben and I had been struggling with infertility for the past 6 years. Even though we had a healthy, happy child, she had taken quite a long time to come to us. Miscarriage and many years of (seemingly) unanswered prayers finally resulted in our beautiful baby girl.
We always hoped God would send us another child and had been trying to conceive for 2 years at this point. But with my history, we (and by we, I mean mostly ME–Ben had far more faith than I did!) didn’t have much hope that I’d give birth to another child. So, after many months of praying, we had applied for a domestic infant adoption program and were waiting to be accepted.
I should also mention that while we both were still praying for God to bring us another child (whether by giving birth to one or adoption), we had stopped praying for this together. It was just too painful. We didn’t have the strength to do it anymore.
That changed one evening when I had the thought, “Juliet is 3. We might as well get her involved in this prayer. It’s going to be her sibling, after all.” So as we were all praying together before bed, I said, “Please send Juliet a sibling. A little brother or sister for her to love and grow up with.” Ben joined in with, “Please send us a baby, Lord. A baby brother or sister for Juliet…”
And then a little voice piped in (you know, the one who had been inexplicably silent for the past two years?) “Yeah! Yeah! I want a baby! I want a baby! I want a baby in my belly!”
Her tiny prayer brought tears to my eyes, of course, and from then on, she never failed to pray enthusiastically for “her baby”. Every night, she would ask God with total faith to send her a baby. I prayed too, but in my heart, I thought we were praying for our adopted child. I think she might have been the only one in the room who truly believed God could send a baby to us the old-fashioned way.
Four weeks later, we found out that I was pregnant. To say that we were shocked is an understatement. We were overjoyed, but just dumbfounded because we had lost all hope of this ever happening.
Even as we told our family, I could see the disbelief in their eyes and hear it in their voices, “Really?!” they would say. “REALLY?” It was just something all of us never thought we would see. (Again, I should clarify that I was the one who thought I’d never see it. Most of my family and friends were faithfully praying for this and undoubtably did not give up hope, however, they WERE surprised.)
But there was one little person who didn’t respond to the news with an incredulous “Really?” When we told Juliet the big news, she was excited, but not with that air of disbelief that the rest of us had. This answer to prayer was something she had expected. She had asked her Father for something and He had answered–what was there to be incredulous about?
Her faith humbled me and reminded me that while I am teaching my child, I have a lot to learn from her as well. It also reminded me that even when we don’t feel like God hears our prayers, He is fully aware of everything–our deepest pains and our most desperate needs.
So in my quest to impress my child, she ended up impressing me! (Isn’t that a continuing lesson we learn as parents?) I’ll never forget those few weeks that she prayed for a sibling and how joyful and grateful we were when God answered her and our prayers in, what was to us, a most miraculous way.
I have almost no recollection of our nightly prayers over the past 3.5 years in regards to what was said and what we prayed for, however, those few weeks of Juliet asking God to send her a baby brother or sister are burned into my heart and memory forever. I can hear her little voice, see her eyes scrunched closed and her tiny hands clasped together, and feel that closeness we all shared together as we knelt by her bed.
I have to admit that, even though I know I shouldn’t be surprised, I still look at my pregnant belly with disbelief from time to time. I look in the mirror and think, “Really? Is that really me?” It’s so easy to fall back to my former mindset of “that sort of thing happens to OTHER people–not to me.”
But I’m working to have a more child-like faith. To trust in my Father and expect that He will answer me. Not that I’ll always get what I want, but that I can trust Him to give me what I truly need. And I’m thankful for these two special daughters that He’s entrusted to me, and am looking forward to learning more from them and with them in the years to come.