The Bible exhorts all Christians to pray for "all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (I Timothy 2:2). I exhorted children to pray when I asked them to write prayers for a Kids Talk About God Arts Festival at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

 

"Dear God: Make everyone a Christian in America, and Lord, make my mom never cook spinach again," wrote Sarah, age 6.

 

Although my spinach-quiche suggestion seemed to fall on deaf ears, I commend Sarah's prayer that all Americans come to know the Lord. To expand prayer horizons beyond America, read a book called Operation World.

 

It's never too early for children to start praying. The following brief prayer comes from 4-year-old Cale: "Dear God: Keep the ocean and the cowboys safe." Because Plano is a suburb of Dallas, I wonder if the second half of this prayer is for the Dallas Cowboys, especially now that Bill Parcells has been appointed coach.

 

"Dear God: I pray that the president gets more ideas," wrote Johnathan, 6. Yes, we should pray that government officials receive godly advice from wise counselors, but we can also pray against evil plans and people. When King David learned that Ahithophel had joined his son's rebellion to take over his throne, he prayed, "O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!" God answered that prayer.

 

Like David, we should pray that advice to advance the conspiracies of evil dictators be turned to foolishness. God has a wonderful way of letting evil people hang themselves with their own plans, but this doesn't mean all righteous people only pray. The Book of Esther provides the classic example. A godly woman thwarted the conspiracy of an evil man with the result that he was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for a righteous man.

 

Ryan, 10, provides an example of a prayer for righteousness to prevail: "Dear God: Please help Mr. Bush to make the right decisions. Help make this country to still stand strong. Help nothing to go wrong. And if Iraq does attack us, let us still be free!"

 

Alyse, 9, offers another example: "Lord, please be with America through these hard times. Keep your angels around us. Be with President Bush, and help him make decisions according to your will. Please give us peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen."

 

In the midst of praying for our country's leaders, let's not forget to be grateful for what God has given us. For a prayer of thanksgiving, we look to 5-year-old Erin: "Dear God: Thank you for our family, and thank you for George Washington, and thank you for Jesus. Thank you for butterflies. Thank you for our country, the United States of America. I wish I could make a valentine to put up in heaven for you.

 

"And thank you for our Bible stories, Mom and Dad, friends and Christmas. Thank you, God. I do love you. Amen."

 

Do you want to do God's will? The Bible says, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). Many of my journalist colleagues have adopted the motto, "If you don't have anything good to say, let's hear it."

 

Thanking God for everything doesn't translate into a Pollyanna view of life. Christians who adopt heaven's view of life realize God is at work in every situation. Eyes of faith cause people of faith to give thanks in faith when they don't completely understand God's purposes in a situation.

 

Hannah, 7, offers a prayer of thanksgiving for her salvation: "Dear God: You saved me. You took away my sins. I love God."

     

Be thankful, and don't forget to pray for our country during these perilous times.

     

Inspire your children by reading this column with them and visiting the Kids Talk About God website at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

 

COPYRIGHT 2003 CAREY KINSOLVING