I was praying for my grandchildren today, ages 8 and 6. It is the one thing I can always do, since I have limited physical involvement in their lives. I’m concerned that their minimal exposure to the things of God could choke out the saplings of faith planted in their hearts. And so I have taken to praying that neither time nor culture nor school nor media nor things past nor things present nor things future nor any influence will be allowed by God to destroy their faith.
I was reminded of James’ description of true “religion”: “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” The world is full of things that “stain,” and I am far from being able to protect my grandchildren from it, so I could almost despair that they will grow sullied in this “evil and adulterous generation,” as Jesus called it.
And so I decided to make this verse a specific matter of prayer and petition, that God would somehow keep these two little ones who believe in Him “unstained by the world.” I don’t know how He is going to do it. But I know He can. The way I know He can is because He did it for little Samuel, son of Hannah. He was a mere child, just weaned from his mother, when she devoted him to the temple in fulfillment of a vow. And sorry to say, but the temple was a very unhealthy environment for a child in those days. Samuel got an eyeful day after day of the philandering, adulterous priests Hophni and Phinehas, and their weak-willed father Eli. That’s all he knew.
And for that very reason I am encouraged—because there is no reason, humanly speaking, that Samuel should have “turned out” good. His role models were lacking in integrity, and corruption usually breeds corruption. It was only God’s direct intervention and protection that can explain how Samuel was kept unstained from the world. I figure if God could do it then, He can do it again. I think that’s what faith is.
It is also James who said, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” Just imagine the blessings from God’s storehouse, just ready to be poured out, that we do not receive simply because we do not ask.