Thursday, June 28, 2012

Praying the wrong prayer.

It is times like tonight,
as I sit here on the couch,
Abbey, our trustful canine on my left,
and my sweet, sleeping baby girl on my right,
God speaks to me the most.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the big stuff, that if we aren't careful we let the small things slip right by us. 
When in all actuality, it was the small things that mattered all along.

Our church was in VBS this week. To me, it seemed like it all came together too fast, and when I caught a cold the day before it started my enthusiasm and motivation did more than falter; it came to a crashing halt.  I am not ashamed to admit that when the first night rolled around, I was disappointed by the numbers. With only 58 in attendance (counting both leaders and learners) I slapped a smile on my face and encouraged the kids to bring just one friend in order to double the amount the next night.
Monday rolled around and we were at 64. While I was happy we had added more, I was still disappointed.
"God, I would pray, Where is everyone? We passed out flyers, we prayed, why aren't they showing up?"
The next day our numbers dropped back down to 64.
That night at the end of the Worship Rally, as I was doing my Leader duties and rallying the kids onward, I bravely issued a challenge to pray specifically for a total of 75 the next night. I told the kids that I believe in a God that can do all things and that if we pray asking we shall receive.  They all agreed to join me in this prayer for 75 people to be in attendance the following night.
That night in my personal prayer time I cried out to God, eloquent words flowing from my lips, praising and believing that in His Holy Name there would be 75 in attendance.
The next night we were back up to 69.
But God, where was my 75? I prayed for it.  Did I not pray hard enough? Specifically enough? I told these kids that you could do it! Now what do I say?
I told the kids that God has all things in control, He knows what He is doing, and I expressed excitement that we had added 8 people from the night before. At the end of the night when Pastor Chuck asked how many we were going to pray for to be there tonight I bravely replied "80!" 
So again, I prayed earnestly and fervently. I was sure that God would come through and show these kids that He does answer prayers.
At 6:25, 5 minutes before VBS began for the night, I walked into the sanctuary completely broken hearted. I could count the number of kids waiting in line outside on 2 hands. I knew the number of leaders in attendance and I knew that unless God performed a miracle in the next 5 minutes it was NOT going to add up to 80.
I text Landen telling him how bummed out I was and how I couldn't figure out why God couldn't have just sent a few more kids. Why couldn't He prove to them that He exists by answering one little prayer.
What had I done wrong?

By the end of the night, with sweat dripping off my brow from dancing to "Yes to VBS" for the last time this year, I asked the group to bow their heads in prayer. Suddenly, Pastor Chuck spoke up and said that He had an announcement to make. He grabbed a little boy named Devon and brought him up to the front and announced that tonight he had accepted Christ as his Savior. 
We were so excited!
Praise God for this little boy and the fact that He was insured an eternity with Christ!
I led the group in prayer, I praised God for this new soul added to His kingdom, and praised Him for a great week.
I helped clean up the church and had fun with friends.
Then I got in my car, headed home, and was filled with disappointment at the fact that God simply had NOT answered my prayer. He had NOT proven Himself to these kids. And I was angry. 
I spent 10 of the 15 minutes of the car ride home questioning, I called my dad and when He asked my if we had a lot at VBS I disappointedly told him no. When he asked if I thought it went well, I replied "Yeah, but I wish we'd had more there."
It wasn't until I was pulling in to my driveway that God decided to snap me out of my pity-party and hit me with the cold truth.
"I don't care about the same number that you do."
I realized; I had been so caught up in the number of people that was sitting in the pews each night, that I had totally forgotten about the lost people sitting in the pews each night.
It was in this moment that I realized; God didn't answer my prayer because I wasn't praying the right prayer. Instead of praying specifically for 75 people to show up, I should have been praying for people to give up their lives to Christ. That's the whole reason we do outreach programs like this. To reach the lost and teach children about God.

There are so many times in our lives that we miss the whole point.  We pray to God, specifically and passionately, to hear or prayers, to prove He exists, and all the while, God is saying I don't have to PROVE I exist. I exist for the ones who care enough to seek me out. I am right here. Just look. We pray prayers that don't even matter at the end of the day. I am struck by the realization that even if 275 people would have shown up, it wouldn't have mattered if that little boy hadn't made a decision tonight and had died without knowing Christ. It would have only been a number on a piece of paper, that no one remembered. 
I am realizing that we are all praying for the wrong number. Churches all around this nation are praying for more people, more money, more things. We should be praying for more souls to come to Christ. Isn't that what the whole point to the story is anyway; leading people to Christ. 

Sometimes God has to disappoint us, before He can enlighten us. 
I am so thankful we didn't have 80 people there tonight.
Because God knows,
if we had,
I would have cared more about that number than 
the most important number. The number ONE.

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