Sitting just outside the open-air tabernacle, I struck up a conversation with the grandmother sitting next to me. “How old is your grandson?” I asked, referring to the little boy she was holding. “Two,” she said, an answer I was expecting, but it proved to be a good conversation starter and an opportunity for me to play with the toddler a bit.
As the worship service started at the Bloys Camp Meeting outside Fort Davis, Texas, the little boy’s father came up and took the seat on the other side of his mother and son. Sixty minutes later the service came to a close, and the two-year-old had done as well as could be expected. The preacher announced the final benediction, “Let us pray.” I closed my eyes and bowed my head, but was suddenly distracted by words being said to my left. I looked over to see that this child’s father, a tall, rugged cowboy, had stood and was leaning down to take the little hands of his son and push them together in the familiar fashion of offering prayer. The cowboy was whispering to his son, “Pray. Pray.”
I fought back a tear as I realized how profound a moment I had witnessed: a father with no seminary training and probably minimal knowledge of the latest parenting skills, nevertheless starting his young son on his life-long journey with God. The greatest preacher or theologian in the country couldn’t have done a better job. I couldn’t help but think that old Dr. Bloys, who started this Camp Meeting in 1890, would be pleased at how well his work is continuing to be done.
Sometimes I fear that in today’s modern world we have made things more complicated than they have to be. We worry about our children, and we go to extraordinary measures and great expense to make sure they are safe and prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. But it may be that the most important experience we can give them is the simplest: Hold their little hands together and begin to teach them the power of prayer.
(reprinted from my book THE LONG VIEW, Abingdon Press)
Rev. Don Underwood