I had just said the last “amen,” dismissing the second morning worship service. People were still crowding the altar. Some requested prayer for healing, some for salvation. Others just needed a little encouragement. As usual, I was directing traffic, referring this one to the youth pastor, that one to a small group leader.
Finally, when it looked like everyone’s needs were covered, my wife tapped me on the shoulder: “Honey, he wants you to pray for him.”
He wanted me to pray for him. He wouldn’t settle for one of the other pastors or staff. It had to be me.
While I’d known him for six years, I’d never seen him so serious. I motioned for him to sit down with me on the steps right in front of the pulpit. I put my arm around his shoulder and asked, “So, what do you want me to pray for?”
After nervously studying his feet for a few minutes, he said: “. . . Um, I just want to be closer to Jesus.”
This guy was serious. He really wanted to know God! A year ago, I had invited him to attend a showing of the “Jesus Film” at our student center in Manila’s University-Belt. That night, he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior, but this was different. God was doing a deeper work in his heart, and he was responding.
Of all the people in the congregation, he was the last one I expected to request prayer that morning. Actually, I was a little surprised to find out he even listened to my sermon. He never took notes or even looked up the Scriptures I read from. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit had gotten through to him. I led him in a prayer of dedication and consecration.
After we both said “amen,” he looked up at me. His serious look had been replaced with a shy grin. His eyes glowed with a peace that only comes from knowing the Lord. God answered our prayer that day. He’s closer to Jesus now than ever before. That’s what church is all about, people getting closer to Jesus.
Now, why did this guy insist that I pray for him? Why not one of the other pastors? Why me?
Was it because I am the “senior pastor”? I don’t think it had anything to do with my title or position in the church. It wouldn’t have made any difference to the guy if I were the senior pastor or the lobby janitor. But why did it have to be me? Was it because I’d just preached the message that touched his heart? I don’t think so.
This wasn’t the first time I’d prayed for him. He comes to me every time he has a spiritual question. In fact, he comes to me with all kinds of questions. He’s convinced I have all the answers. But why?
Maybe it’s because I’m the first person who ever told him about Jesus. Maybe it’s because he hears me tell him Bible stories before bedtime every night. Perhaps it is because he knows his mother and I have one all-consuming passion in life and that is to know and serve God.
You see, my son didn’t need a preacher or pastor to lead him close to Jesus that morning. He needed a parent.
He needed his Dad.
Dads and Moms, maybe you are not called and gifted to be preachers or prophets. You are, however, called and gifted to be parents. You are called to be sensitive to your children’s spiritual condition and to be available when the Holy Spirit begins to do a work in their hearts. For better or for worse, children learn much more from their parents than from their pastors. They learn more at home than at church.
It’s never too early to lead your children to Jesus, but sometimes it can be too late.