Praying For Children

June 7, 2011

“Can I take this home in case I get hungry later?” The question was asked by a skinny boy with his arms full of food and milk cartons at the end of the first day of Vacation Bible School. We served the children lunch, provided for free by our school system’s summer feeding program, and parents were beginning to arrive.

Of course, he could. He did, proudly meeting his dad at the door and showing him what he had to take home.

Maybe he just really loved what we served for lunch.

But the collection of items in his arms made me think otherwise. I was again faced with the reality that there are children in my own community who do not have food to eat at home. I deal with this each week during the school year as I work as part of a team from our church who provide food and funds to make sure five children at a local school have enough to eat each weekend when they aren’t at school and fed breakfast and lunch.

It’s one of the reasons we serve lunch at VBS. Sure, it’s free for us to do it. Sure, it’s easier for parents to pick up kids who have already been fed. The main reason, though, is because there are some children who won’t eat lunch if we don’t feed them. Most of the kids who come to our VBS have food and clothes and love and care at home. There are some, however, who do not and who will not.

This morning, the teachers, leaders and adult volunteers gathered together to pray before VBS began. We prayed the prayer below together. It’s a favorite prayer of mine and I use it in my own prayer time a lot. We remembered together that we have kids in all of these categories at our VBS. We have children who may not eat if they don’t come to us for food. We have children hwo may not know they are loved if we do not tell them.

Ministering to kids is a big job and a big responsibility. It’s about more than funny games and silly songs and cheesy jokes. It’s about the good news and the hope that comes with knowing you are made by God, heard by God, seen by God and loved by God. I’m grateful to be part of a team that has come together to love and care for kids.

 

“We Pray For Children” by Ina J Hughs

We pray for children

who sneak popsicles before supper,

who erase holes in math books

who can never find their shoes.

 

And we pray for those

who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire

who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers

who never counted potatoes

who are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead

who never go to the circus

who live in an X-rated world.

 

We pray for children

who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandilions

who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish

who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money

who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink

who slurp their soup.

 

And we pray for those

who never get dessert

who have no safe blanket to drag behind them

who watch their parents watch them die

who can’t find any bread to steal

who don’t have any rooms to clean up

whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser

whose monsters are real

 

We pray for children

who spend all of their allowance before Tuesday

who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food

who like ghost stories

who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub

who get visits from the tooth fairy

who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool

who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone

whose tears we sometimes laugh at

whose smiles can make us cry.

 

And we pray for those

whose nightmares comes in the day time

who will eat anything

who have never seen the dentist

who aren’t spoiled by anybody

who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep

who live and move but have no being

 

We pray for children

who want to be carried

and for those who must

for those we never give up on

and for those who don’t get a second chance

for those we smother

and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

 

We pray for children. Amen.