When Babies Cry In Church

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14)

On Sunday, I was offering the prayers of the church on behalf of the congregation. Sometimes it’s pretty quiet during that time as those in attendance are listening carefully and adding their ascent to each prayer. This past Sunday, it was not quiet. In my left ear there was a baby crying. In my right ear there was a baby crying. From somewhere behind me there were two or three other young children crying. To the cacophony of noise was my voice, crying out the pleas and petitions of our congregation to our gracious and merciful Lord. It was beautiful!

I love the sound of little voices in church. Small people who come because their parents know and place a premium on the value of what Jesus offers us – ALL OF US – in that place. Small children rattling papers and ruffling hymnal pages while trying to do what mom and dad and grandma and grandpa are doing. Faithful youngsters who bravely discuss the faith with pastor during our children’s messages. Confident little Christians who may not get all the words right, but put their heart into praying the Lord’s Prayer together with the congregation.

I even love it when the children get bored. Tired of what has to seem to them the droning on of a long-winded preacher. Who plop down in frustration when they just can’t take it anymore. I love it because they’re there. They’re right where Jesus would have them be. Climbing up on His holy lap and listening as well as a child can. I love the sounds of children in church, not because they’re the future church (although they are that), but because they are the present church joining together as best they can with the rest of the church. As loud as it can sometimes get, I absolutely love the cries and shouts and screams and even the occasional tantrum because in a real way, that’s exactly what we all have to offer our Lord. Our tears, our shouts of “unfair”, our fears, and even an occasional tantrum. Jesus never kicked a child out of His presence, but instead lauded them as the example of greatness.

Our children come, just as we adults do, into the presence of Jesus. We have nothing to offer Him. We simply have the sins we’ve committed, the hurts we harbor, the anger we’ve buried, the sadness we’ve hidden, and little more. As a baby is dependent on her mom and dad to take care of her and teach her, so we depend on our Father to hear and love us.

So I say let the little children come . . . and let them cry! Let them raise their voices! Little loved voices from little loved people. Sinners, like you and me; forgiven by Jesus, like you and me! Let us in fact join our voices with the cries of the babies in church as we cry out for mercy and forgiveness from our Lord for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Merciful Father, hear the cries of all your children. Thank you for hearing us and welcoming us into your presence through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

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When God’s People Pray

Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. (Exodus 32:12b)

God’s mind was made up. He had tolerated these stiff-necked, wicked people long enough. His legendary patience had worn thin. To Moses, God unveiled His plan to annihilate His chosen people and start from scratch with him, Moses.

It all started with 400 years’ worth of cries for mercy. From plagues of blood and frogs, lice to locusts, darkness to death, the people were finally freed to go. When their backs were up against the sea, God moved the sea.

But when the unleavened bread was eaten up and the sacrificed lambs were fully digested, they feared God couldn’t provide. As if the God who just walked them through the middle of the sea would forget something as crucial as food! They longed to have full stomachs. So God rained down miraculous food from heaven! And that was nice too . . . for awhile. Before long, however, they were complaining about the lack of variety to their diet!

It gets worse. When the cat’s away, the mice shall play as the saying goes. While Moses was on the mountain conversing with God on their behalf, they were making different plans. They thought Moses was okay and the God who led them out of slavery was nice, but they wanted more. They needed something else. Something . . . tangible. Dutifully they went to their priest, Aaron, demanding a solution to their longing. Aaron made them a young cow of gold and proclaimed it was God.

These are the people God chose out of all the people on the face of the earth. It turns out God doesn’t take too kindly to such slanderous mockery and He became, well, utterly upset. Judgment and punishment were to come swiftly and decisively. These scoundrels have shown once and for all they deserve nothing more than death, so death they shall receive. God’s plan “B” was to wipe them out and start over.

The only thing standing between God and devastation: Moses and a bold prayer. Stepping forward to face the righteous wrath of the Lord, Moses dared speak a word against this new plan. “Please,” Moses begged, “please spare them. Please remember your promises. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remember your mercy. Remember not their great sins. They are stiff-necked, no doubt. They have earned your wrath, I don’t deny it. But please have mercy. Please do not leave us. Remember how you told me you knew me by name. Remember when you said I found favor in your sight. Do not forsake us.”

It was a bold move. Moses threw caution to the wind and appealed to the God he knew and trusted. And God heard Moses’s prayer. God listened to the prayer of Moses and relented of His wrath.

God always listens to the prayers of His people! For whom can you cry out this day? Who needs intercessory prayers for their days ahead? Boldly come before your Lord and know He listens. That He hears and acts. Come before the Lord in the name of Jesus!

Good and Gracious Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, I boldly come before you today on behalf of ___________ asking for your grace, favor, and mercy. Lead and guide him/her through these days and grant your blessings. Amen.