I’ll never forget when the kids were younger and Lois and I took them to visit the Grand Canyon. We’d driven all day in order to save on travel expenses, and by the time we got there, it was pretty late. We arrived tired and ready to head to our hotel room to go to sleep. Yet there was one fairly major problem: I had forgotten to reserve us a room.
Keep in mind, this was 30 or so years ago. No cellphones. No internet. And no other hotels within an hour or so. We had made it to the Grand Canyon and the official hotel on site. But it was already full. The hotel manager even told me that there was a waiting list in case any rooms came available. The situation looked bleak.
Worn out, hungry and frustrated, I decided we would sit down as a family and have a meal before making the long drive to try and find another hotel. When we sat down to dinner, Priscilla — a small child at the time — asked, “Daddy, didn’t you teach us that God will provide all of our needs?”
Trust me, I was in no mood to have one of my children point out what daddy had preached on a Sunday. So I gave her one of those daddy looks that said, “Priscilla, be quiet and get ready to eat your meal.”
But Priscilla continued, “Daddy, if God is going to provide all of our needs and all we need to do is ask him, then why don’t you pray?” She looked at me with an innocence in her eyes that was touching. It was one of those moments when, as a father, you want to crawl under the table because your child is being more spiritual than you are. It was also one of those moments when I didn’t feel at all like praying, so I told her, “You pray, Priscilla.” She did. Loud enough for the people around us also eating dinner to hear.
After Priscilla’s prayer, I started thinking about what I was going to have to say to her to explain how God doesn’t always instantly come through when we pray. But things never got that far because not long after Priscilla’s prayer, the hotel manager came to our table and asked me if we still needed a room. I nodded yes.
“Well,” he said, “one of our guests just had a medical emergency and had to leave — and the next family on the waiting list has already left. So we have a room for you if you want it.”
Priscilla smiled a huge smile. I just shook my head and said, “Wow.”
Prayer is a powerful tool because prayer is communicating with the all-powerful God who longs to execute his authority to and through us, but only as we give him permission to do so through prayer. Unfortunately, many of us have simply “outgrown” it. More precisely, we have outgrown the childlike faith that believes God will do what he says he will.
One key to prayer is having faith like a child — as Priscilla modeled for me so many years ago. As most of you probably know, the Lord would go on to later use Priscilla in a movie on prayer that has truly transformed the landscape of homes and marriages all across this nation, “War Room.” Witnessing the impact of that film has not surprised me at all, because I will always remember the faith she had as a child, and continues to have to this day.
• Pastor Tony Evans, Th.D., is founder of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and president of The Urban Alternative, a national broadcast ministry designed to take the word of God to a world in need. He is the best-selling author of “Kingdom Men: Every Man’s Destiny, Every Woman’s Dream,” and his much anticipated book, “Kingdom Prayer: Touching Heaven to Change Earth,” will release in October. More information is at TonyEvans.org.