As our mission rounds the bend into the final leg, I'm getting nostalgic about teaching my little Primary class. In the past, I always heard people say how much they loved the people where they served. Sure, I have always felt a certain closeness with people from church and even genuine friendship but nothing like the love I felt for my children or parents. I get it now. I love those kids like they are my own grandchildren. I love many people at church like I love my own family. Something about serving a mission changed my heart.
This week's Primary lesson is prayer. Heavenly Father always hears our prayers and answers them in ways and times that are best for us. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, and some times not now. In the story of Elizabeth and Zacharias found in Luke 1:5-17, we are taught that not now is sometimes a long time in coming. Imagine praying for a child to have the Lord wait until I was well past the child bearing years and well stricken in years. Like Elizabeth and Zacharias I would find joy in raising a child even in my golden years, but bearing and birthing at that time would be a trial. However, I imagine the Lord made them wait so they could be mature enough to do a good job raising John the Baptist.
Another story we are to tell the children is of John Widsoe as a little boy. After working for several weeks, he was paid with a five dollar gold piece. Unfortunately, his pocket had a hole and the money was lost. After praying John was directed to the money. His answer was yes, and he didn't have to wait until later.
Another story is of a little boy with a cold. On a lovely snowy day, his mother made him stay inside instead of playing outside. She wanted him to get well instead of getting worse. Although he pleaded, she didn't relent. His little friend came to the door asking him to come out and play in the snow. The sick little boy told his friend to come back after lunch, because he was going to pray for Heavenly Father to change his mother's mind. After lunch the sick boy again asked his mother if he could play outside. He told her he had prayed that she would let him go outside. His mother looked unhappy. She asked her son if he thought Heavenly Father would want him to go out and play in the snow today when it might make him more sick. When the friend came back, the sick boy said he couldn’t go outside. The friend said that Heavenly Father didn’t answer the sick boy’s prayer. The sick boy explained that Heavenly Father did answer his prayer, but the answer was no.
Sometimes it is painful to be told no or to wait, but another thing is more painful still. If we don't know that Heavenly Father sometimes tells us no or wait as any good parent does, we might loose faith in prayer. When I was in the hospital with my dying daughter, an acquaintance that had come to the hospital with my dear friend was somehow in Katie's room. My friend and I were attending a big family meeting with the hospital staff, which was one of the few times I left the room. Anyway, after I returned, the acquaintance offered to pray with me as many friends and acquaintances had. I acquiesced. Her prayer was so foreign and offensive as she demanded that God heal our Katie. This is not how I pray, knowing I can ASK for things but am sometimes told no or later. Because of lack of sleep and all the stress and the fact that my little girl was dying and the shock of this strange prayer, I broke down in the fear I had offended God. As with all loving parents, I know my Father in Heaven does what is best. He sees the whole picture. As any child, I sometimes don't understand my Father's ways or time table but know better than to demand my will. I'm so grateful that this important point is in the lesson schedule to teach to such young little children.