I remember my very first answer to prayer.
I was in the first grade, and I had lost a reading book that my teacher let me take home. The book was due back, but it was no where to be found. I looked and looked. Mrs. Johnson kept bugging me to return the book. I so wanted to please my teacher and felt terrible that I had let her down.
So I prayed and prayed and looked and looked to find the book.
But I still couldn’t find it.
Mrs. Johnson was getting more and more concerned about the whereabouts of her book. And I was getting more and more concerned that I was disappointing my beautiful teacher.
So I prayed and prayed again.
I still couldn’t find the book.
Then one day my uncle (who was living with us at the time) came into my bedroom with a big smile on his face. He said, “Tiffany, you will never guess what I found!” It was the book! He explained that he had dropped his pen behind his dresser and when he pulled out the dresser to get the pen, there was my book.
I was so happy. I ran to my mom and told her the whole story. She pointed out that Heavenly Father answered my prayer. We wrapped the book in gift paper and a bow and I took it to my teacher.
Mrs. Johnson opened her “present” and my first grade heart felt much better.
From my first answer to prayer, I learned three simple, yet important, principles of prayer:
1. God answers our prayers on His own timeline. I didn’t just offer one prayer one day and my book magically appeared. Rather, I prayed for what seemed liked weeks. Sometimes answers come immediately and swiftly and sometimes God makes us work for them. Prayer can take patience and persistence.
2.God answers our prayers in unexpected ways. I expected my book to just “show up” or to get a prompting that said, “Look here.” Instead my uncle had to drop his pen behind his dresser in order for me to find my book. It seemed like a complicated process or an extra step, but it worked nevertheless. God sometimes prompts us directly and sometimes He takes the scenic route to our answers.
3. God often answers our prayers through another person. I didn’t find my book — my uncle found my book, but the end result was the same. I had my book back! I wouldn’t have been able to move the heavy dresser by myself anyway. God worked through my uncle to help me out. God knows who he can send to help answer our prayers.
I think it is so important for our children to understand these principles of prayers. Imagine the heartache and misunderstanding that could be avoided if our children understood these principles early in life.
It is also important for parents to help their children recognize answers to prayers. I remember my mom teaching me in that moment that God answered my prayers. If she had not said something, I think I would have thought it was just a coincidence or felt lucky that my uncle dropped his pen. But because my mom identified God’s hand in my life I could see that my prayer was indeed answered. My mom’s connection helped me make my own connection.
I very well could have had my prayers answered before this moment, but this experience sticks out to me as my first time because it was the first time I labeled the outcome as an answer to prayer. Parents have a sacred responsibility and opportunity to help their children recognize answers to prayers.
I am forever grateful for my ‘first’ answer to prayer. Not only is it a great story to tell my kids, but it taught me so much about how prayer sometimes works. It’s not always fast. It’s not always easy, and it’s likely going to involve someone else. I am even more grateful that my mom had the composure in the moment to point out that God answered my little prayer. Because of her example and the impact it had on my six year old heart, I want to continually help my children recognize and identify God’s hand in their lives.