A little fellow wished to pray but had never been taught how. He, thus, began to recite his ABCs as he knelt. A man passing by overheard the lad and inquired, ‘Son, what’s going on?’ ‘I’m saying my prayers,’ replied the boy. ‘But why the ABCs?’ the man asked. ‘Sir,’ came the answer, ‘I don’t know how to go about praying, so I thought if I said my ABCs God would take what he needed and spell out the words to match my wants.’
With childlike innocence, this little fellow believed in prayer.
Jesus also believed in prayer. In fact, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John compositely recorded several occasions where Jesus went apart to pray. For example, all of John 17 projects a prayer of Jesus which may be divided into four segments: (1) For Himself (17:1-5); (2) For the apostles (17:6-19); (3) For the church (17:20-23); and again, (4) For the apostles (17:24-26).
Let’s focus on ‘Christ’s prayer for the church’ (17:20-23). ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.’
This pulsates with a plea for harmony. According to ‘Christ’s prayer for the church,’ harmony is a challenging possibility. He prayed that all who believe on him through the apostles’ word might ‘be one…be one in us….be one…be made perfect in one.’
In each of these petitions, the subjunctive mood of the Greek language was used, indicating an objective reality! Harmony among Christians is more than an illusive dream or noble sentiment. Encouragingly, it is a very real possibility.
A case in point to prove such would be the first century church of Jerusalem (Acts 2:42, 44-46). They were united in their support of fearless Gospel preaching (4:24-29). They were united in their benevolent spirit and sacrificial care (4:32). They were also united in their support of church discipline (5:1-12). By example, they established the possibility of harmony existing in the church.
Therefore, the subject of harmony among Christians should be approached with a positive attitude. When it comes to unity in the church, negative slurs [‘Well, that sounds good,’ or ‘It would be nice,’ or ‘That is just youthful idealism’] should be CANNED. After all, success comes in CANS not CAN’TS!
If Jesus’ prayer for the church implied the possibility of harmony in the church, it is a possibility; yea, it is a possibility that challenges every congregation and heart of the church. — condensed from Harmony Among the Heirs of Heaven, Dan Winkler
Children in Church
- Three-year-old, Reese: ‘Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is his name. Amen.’
- A little boy was overheard praying: ‘Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.’
- A Sunday school class was studying the Ten Commandments. They were ready to discuss the last one. The teacher asked if anyone could tell her what it was. Susie raised her hand, stood tall, and quoted, ‘Thou shall not take the covers off the neighbor’s wife.’
- Jason sobbed in the back seat all the way home. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, he replied, ‘That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.’
- I had been teaching my three-year old daughter, Caitlin, the Lord’s Prayer for several evenings at bedtime. She would repeat the lines of the prayer after me. Finally, she decided to go solo. I listened with pride as she carefully enunciated each word right up to the end of the prayer. ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ she prayed, ‘but deliver us some email. Amen.’
- One four-year-old prayed, ‘And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.’
- A Sunday school teacher asked her children, as they were on the way to church service, ‘And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?’ One bright girl replied, ‘Because people are sleeping.’
- Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together. Joel giggled, sang, and talked. Finally, big sister had had enough. ‘You’re not supposed to talk in church.’ ‘Why? Who’s going to stop me?’ Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, ‘See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.’
- A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. They began to argue over who got the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. ‘If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.” Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, ‘Ryan, you play the part of Jesus!’
- A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. ‘Daddy, what happened to him?’ the boy asked. ‘He died and went to Heaven,’ replied the Dad. The boy thought a moment and then said, ‘Did God throw him back down?’