How many of you remember the first time you prayed? Do you remember the first time you clasped your hands, bowed your head, closed your eyes, and prayed to God? I don't. How many of you remember the first time you prayed to God a prayer that was not a recitation? You know the “God is Great” blessing, or the “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” prayer, or any of the other variations that were taught to us as we began our faith journeys. Again, I don't.
Now, we all come from different backgrounds and cultures. Some of us were raised in the church. Some of us were not. Some of us were raised in financially stable homes. Some of us were not. Some of us were raised with large families. Some of us were not. But we were all created by the same God. We were all created by a loving creator that eagerly wants to be a part of each one of our lives and one way that involvement happens is through prayer.
Learning how to pray is important. Learning how to pray can also be stressful. What words do I say? What if I say the wrong words? With everything else going on in the world, why would God listen to me? These are typical, normal, logical questions for any of us to ask. This past week, the YMCA camp took a step in helping to answer those questions for a 135 young children.
A group was brought in, by the camp, to speak to these young people about God, the importance of faith, and the love of Christ. They spent a few hours each morning talking with the kids and engaging them in learning about God's mercy, grace, and forgiveness. On the last day of the week, the children were invited to pray to God, for forgiveness, for their salvation, or whatever else was on their hearts. Out of the 135 children present, 41 prayed for the very first time. Forty one relationships with God were began, or built upon on, that Friday. That is incredible!
This is just another reason why opening up our doors this summer has been so important. We helped to create a space for this to happen. We showed them the love of Christ through our radical hospitality and helped them to feel comfortable enough here to listen to others speak about God. They felt safe enough to take that step to pray to God for the very first time. Seeds were planted here last week that may blossom into a great many wonderful things.
I am inspired by the actions of those 41 young people. I am proud that those prayers were prayed here. I am hopeful for the future because of those 41 young people. I know those actions were a first step, but they were a first step. Please join me in praying for these young people that the seeds planted that day will be nurtured, feed, and continue to grow. God can do amazing things. God does do amazing things. God did do an amazing thing here last week.
Have a great week!