Toddler Theology: Whatever you ask in my name…
Whatever you ask in my name…
One morning, while leading our homeschool co-op pre-school devotionals, I noticed that our verse of the day was not as simple as I had come to expect. I opened up to the letter “V” and found the verse:
“Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you.” John 16:23
As we read and chanted the verse out loud as a class I prayed, “Help,Lord! How do I teach these 3 and 4 year olds that this is not a promise to give them whatever their little wants demand?!” Praise the Lord, a wisp of an idea flickered in my head, just in time to begin teaching.
“Ok, class, what do know about God’s power? Is He VERY powerful, or only a little powerful?”
All of the girls eagerly answered that God is VERY powerful.
“He has ALL the power in the WHOLE WORLD!” one declared, nodding knowingly.
“That’s right! The Bible tells us God has all the power in heaven AND earth. But, I have another question for you: Is God COMPLETELY good, or just a little good?”
“Completely good!” All of the girls answered together.
That’s right, again! The Bible says only God is really, truly, completely good. One more question: Does God know EVERYTHING, or only a few things?”
“HE KNOWS EVERYTHING!!” The girls nearly shouted. The volume cranked louder with each correct answer.
“Yes!” I smiled. The Bible says God is all-knowing! He even knows how many hairs are on your head right now. So we always need to remember that God is completely…what?” I held up 3 fingers.
“Powerful!” the girls answered.
“Good!” came the next answer.
“Knowing!” they shouted out the jubilant final answer.
“Very good!” I laughed, enjoying their enthusiasm.“So let’s remember those important, special things about God while we look at this verse again. I want us to think about the part that says ‘in my name.’ This is Jesus talking, so He is talking about His name. Let me ask you something, when you do work or make art at school, what do you put at the top of the paper?”
“We write our names!”
“Yes, that’s right! When you write your name on your work, that tells the world that you made it. That work or art came out of your mind, heart, creativity and your choice. Would you write your name on something you didn’t make?”
“No…” they crinkled their noses and shook their heads.
“In the same way, God’s name does not go together with things He doesn’t do. Your work always goes together with your name.
“When we pray, we are asking God to use His power to do His work in our lives and in the world around us. You can see the little girl in the picture – what is she praying for?”
“That God would make the seeds she planted grow.” One girl answered, pointing at the sprouts.
“That’s right! The Bible calls God the Author of Life, so do you think that prayer might be one He might want to use His power to accomplish in Jesus’ name?”
“What if that little girl was praying to eat ice-cream all day everyday? Do you think that would be the kind of good, beautiful artwork God’s name goes together with?”
The girls sat still, thinking, looking at me and each other. Finally one of them quietly answered, “I don’t think so, because eating too much ice-cream isn’t really healthy for your body…”
“And too much sugar will make your teeth rotten!” Another piped up.
“Very true,” I agreed. “I don’t think so either.
“One more thing we need to remember about this verse. Because God is all-powerful, all-good, and all-knowing, sometimes we can pray asking for something good, but God has a better, more beautiful plan He is creating. Did you know that Jesus prayed asking God to make a way for Him to not go to the Cross? That was a good prayer, but the Father had a better plan. Jesus agreed that He wanted His Father’s plan most, but it was not an easy plan. But because of that plan, we get to have eternal life! So when we pray, what we really want to pray for is God’s best plan. It may not be easy, but it will be good. And we can trust God that He will make it happen!”
Our prayers that morning were full of sincere requests for God’s plan and artwork to be accomplished in our lives, and my heart was full of thankfulness to know these sweet, open-hearted young sisters in the Lord. I praise God for His little ones!