It started simple enough, really. A friend mentioned that her three-year-old learned the states by playing a game at mealtimes using a placemat with a map on it. Not to be outdone, I tossed a placemat in my cart the next time I was at Walmart, because I just knew that my kid could do it, too. I admit, it was pure “Momma Pride” that motivated me to toss that placemat in my cart that day, but this story is just another example of God making something beautiful of my mess.
We began to play a game placing raisins on states where grandparents lived and slowly worked our way out. My son was hooked. He loved learning where people lived. Pretty soon he was pointing to states and asking, “What’s this one called, Mommy?” My pride continued to swell. We went on this way for quite some time. Naming a state, placing a raisin, repeating a name, eating the raisin.
It wasn’t until I got a phone call one day that made me want to break the cycle and pray for the person in the purple state in the West that things changed. Hands held in a circle and heads bowed over our plates, we changed the map game that day. And the next. And the day after that. Pretty soon, we were choosing a state to cover with prayer instead of a raisin.
We traded in our USA map for the globe: Ethiopia where we’re adopting from, Mercy House in Kenya, Dominican Republic where our Compassion sponsor child lives. We did our best to give our son something specific to pray for in each country. When my husband finished reading Radical by David Platt, he signed up for the daily prayer email from Operation World. These emails gave our family a method to picking a country to cover in prayer, much better than the spin-the-globe-and-point method we had been using.
Fast forward a year, and we’re still praying through the Nations. At times, it’s tricky to explain the situations in different countries to our son, since he is just a few months shy of five, but the compassion for others growing in my son is worth it. He knows what it is like to be sick, so he prays for the sick. He has a sibling that is currently an orphan, so he prays for the children waiting for families. He enjoys church, so he prays for those who have to worship in secret. It’s pretty simple if you ask me.
I don’t know what God has planned for my little prayer warrior, but I know this–God took something I did that was all about me and changed it into something good for others. He molded my mess into a daily family prayer time and a heart for prayer. If He can do that out of my mess, I wonder what He can make out of our family prayer time in the heart of my son, or even the World?
Psalm 2:8–Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, and the ends of the earth your possession.
Would you like to join us in praying for the Nations?
- You can start with a simple map like we did
- Sign up for daily prayer emails through Operation World, or get the Operation World book and go at your own pace.
- Companion resources to Operation World more suitable for children are You Can Change the World: Learning to Pray for People Around the World (Volume II) or
Window on the World: Prayer Atlas for All