In my kitchen, taped onto a cupboard door, is a slip of paper, with a child’s name written on it. The paper is small, it’s one of about 20 pieces that were carefully torn and divided, each having a name swiftly but legibly printed on it. A few guests have recently asked about why it’s there.
A few weeks ago, in a bible study group, our conversation veered to the children’s play that had taken place that Sunday. The kids had done an amazing job of taking the service, sharing in both songs and readings and a play how God can work miracles in every situation. It was a great message, a great morning, a great worship.
Now, we don’t always see these kids (or their parents) on Sunday morning, but the kids programme that takes place Tuesday after school is their church. A dedicated group of parishioners teach the kids the messages of God’s love and grace, in a room full of energy and noise and enthusiasm. It’s a beautiful –if sometimes overwhelming!- scene.
So, these are ‘our’ kids. They are known in the parish, they are known in the community; they know us, they know that the church is a welcoming place, they know that God loves them.
In our bible study conversation, someone suggested we continue to pray for these kids, by name. This was when that large sheet of paper started to be divided into smaller pieces, and a name was printed on each sheet. We then passed the pile around, and each person took a slip of paper – a child’s name. We didn’t pick and choose the names, we each just took one. We had each of us made the commitment to pray for that child, every day, for a month.
So I taped my slip of paper to my cupboard door. It’s the cupboard where I keep my tea and mugs, so I’m into it several times a day. And every time I’m going into the cupboard, I’m reminded to pray for that child. I’ve prayed for his safety, for his growth and development, for his family, for situations I happen to know are active in his life right now. I’ve given thanks for his energy, for his contributions to the group, for his role as a big brother. I’ve prayed that God’s Will will continue to mean much to him, that the Spirit will guide and direct him, that he will continue to grow up in a faith community, that he will celebrate being a child of God.
It’s a small thing, but it’s important. I have no idea where the other folks from bible study put their slips of paper, or how their prayers are structured; but I know they too are praying. The ‘how’ doesn’t matter, though – what matters is that we are praying for someone else, for a child of God, by name. It doesn’t matter that the month of dedicated prayer is almost up, either. The practice of praying for someone else by name is a good one, and I expect it will continue for many of us. I know the paper on my cupboard will be staying right where it is.