During the Great Awakening in Scotland, prayer meetings often began with children, then spread to adults. For example, a schoolteacher in the parish of Baldernock allowed four students to meet on their own for prayer and psalm singing. According to The Parish of Baldernock, “In the course of two weeks, ten or twelve more [children] were awakened and under deep convictions. Some of these were not more than eight or nine years of age, and others twelve or thirteen. And so much were they engrossed with the one thing needful as to meet thrice a day-in the morning, at mid-day, and at night.”
Adults then began holding prayer meetings two or more times a week. There were many conversions at both the adult and the children’s meetings. The fervor soon spread to other parishes. The Parish of Kirkintillock reports: “In the month of April, 1742, about sixteen children in the town were observed to meet together in a barn for prayer. Mr. Burnside [their pastor] heard of it, had frequent meetings with them, and they continued to improve. And this being reported, many more were impressed. Soon after, about a hundred and twenty [children] were under a more than ordinary concern, and praying societies, as usual, were formed.”
The reaction to that awakening was to affirm and support the prayers of children. “Why not encourage children’s prayer-meetings? Why may not God still perfect praises to the glory of his grace, out of the mouth of babes?” people asked.
Jonathan Edwards also encouraged children’s prayer. In answering objections some critics had raised to children’s prayer meetings, he wrote, “God, in this work, has shown a remarkable regard to little children; never was there such a glorious work amongst persons in their childhood, as has been of late in New England. He has been pleased, in a wonderful manner, to perfect praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings; and many of them have more of that knowledge and wisdom that please him, and render their religious worship acceptable, than many of the great and learned men of the world. I have seen many happy effects of children’s religious meetings; and God has seemed often remarkably to own them in their meetings, and really descended from heaven to be amongst them. I have known several probable instances of children being converted at such meetings.”
Loving Father, from the mouths of children and infants, You have ordained praise! Forgive us for the glaring neglect of the spiritual development of our youngest ones! Raise us up as mentors and godly examples, but give us the humility to learn from children how to seek after Your heart and hear Your voice. Keep us from the temptation to entertain or to engage our children in spiritual fluff when You have created them for so much more! Help us to be intentional about nurturing the prayers of children and to resist our fears of coming together before You as the intergenerational Body of Your Son, Jesus Christ!
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 45, Prayer Meetings and Revival in the Church by Joel R. Beeke). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God for keeping his covenant promises to you. Give thanks that you have always been able to count on him in all circumstances. Confess any doubt you have had concerning God and his promises. Commit yourself to trusting the Lord and taking him at his word. Ask for his peace which transcends understanding to guard your heart and your mind in Jesus Christ.
Pray that those who instruct within the church may be able to correctly handle the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
“Embark upon no enterprise you cannot submit to the test of prayer.” —Anonymous
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