The Power Of Praying ParentsDr. Erwin W. Lutzer | July 28, 2013
Selected highlights from this sermon
Even with good Christian parenting, children will still walk away from the faith. Parents need to pray with desperation for their restoration. Sometimes God is silent when we pray, but that doesn’t mean He’s indifferent or doesn’t care.
So we are led to pray for a change in us as we wait. God wants to work in us through our prodigal children. We must pray knowing that they are in God’s hands—and only He can change a prodigal’s heart.
Today, it is my privilege to preach message number nine in a series entitled Fighting for Your Family, specifically, how to pray for your children. And we shall concentrate, eventually, on praying for prodigals. I don’t need to tell you, do I, that there are plenty of prodigal children? I’ll forego stories, but this past week, speaking at a Bible conference, a man sits next to me. His son married this woman. They have children. She’s run off to find another lover. So the children now go through the difficulty of divorce. He’s a grandparent and has to watch all of this happen. It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times.
By way of introduction, I have a couple of questions. Number one: Is it always the parent’s fault if a child rebels and becomes a prodigal? The answer is sometimes yes. Parents contribute to the rebellion of their children, but many times, the answer is no. Do you think, in the famous prodigal son story, that the real fault for the younger son wanting his inheritance and then going into a far country was because he didn’t have a good father? Of course not. The father represents God. Sin is irrational. Young people and older people, too, do stupid, hurtful, crazy things. They follow their desires wherever they lead, even with good parenting. So somewhere along the line in this message I am going to try to help you as parents to live guilt-free no matter the past.
A second question that might be asked, very logically, is: When kids rebel, was the child who was brought up in Sunday school, went to camp and memorized all the verses and served the Lord during high school, and then left the faith during college, were they saved? Are they saved or aren’t they? Well, the good scriptural answer is we don’t know. That’s the answer.
I do believe this: Many kids lose their faith in college not because of the intellectual arguments, but because of the moral issues and the environment. They fall into immorality and after that, they are looking for justification. And so because they don’t know how to handle the guilt and to handle their conscience, and they don’t see any way out, they write home and say, “Mom and Dad, I’ve left Christianity and I’ve become an atheist.” In some instances, they may be Christians God will bring back. In other instances, indeed, they may never have actually savingly believed on Jesus, but only God knows.
Now, what I’m going to ask you to do today, is to turn to a passage of Scripture where we see a mother pleading for her child. It’s in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and it is a remarkable story. It’s a story over which some people have stumbled. They’ve said, “Jesus here seems rude. He seems so out of character. What’s happening here?” Well that’s our text today.
I’m in Matthew 15 beginning with verse 21. “And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”
What I’d like us to do is to look at the barriers this woman overcame in soliciting the help of Jesus for her demonized daughter. What a prayer. What a woman. What a mother.
Now we may begin and ask the question, “Well, why was this child demonized?” Well, you have to go to Baalbek, as I have been, in Lebanon to understand the religion of the Canaanites. It was a very pagan religion, filled with sexuality and filled with occultism. Those two always go together. And the Bible talks about the sins of the father being visited upon the next generation, and so what you find is that demonic spirits actually move in family lines. And so, apparently, this child was demonized as a result of that. I can’t believe that the child did something to deserve this or to let these demons in, but thankfully, even today when that happens, this power may be broken and the gospel breaks the cycle.
But there it is. This woman comes and she is a Canaanite, and Jesus is going to the northern part where Lebanon is today—Tyre and Sidon where I was back in 1968. And Jesus is there in the area, and she hears about Jesus and that He is able to deliver from demons, and that the demons obey His very word. Somehow news about Jesus travels that far. There’s no way she could leave and visit Jesus and try to find out where He is, but the good news is, Jesus comes into her area to make grace available even for her.
Now, what I would like to do is to give you five or six barriers she overcame in getting help for her child and interceding for her child. Now, obviously, her child was not a prodigal, but her child was in desperate need of a word from Jesus that that small girl would be delivered.
Are you ready for the barriers?
Barrier number one is she overcame the barrier of her religion. She could have said, “There’s no way I’m going to go to a Jew to get help for my child. After all, we Canaanites have our own religion.” Can’t you just imagine it? There are people today who hide behind their religion for not receiving Christ as Savior. They say, because of their culture, because of their religion, they’d be betraying their parents if they were to believe. Not only religiously but culturally, the Canaanites were despised by many of the Jewish people. They were outcasts. And she could have said, “I’d rather see my child suffer a demon than to go to a Jew to try to find help.” It would be something like a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip reaching out to a Jew for help. You just didn’t do it with those deep cultural roots.
So she overcame her religion, her culture, and then a divided family. Now I can’t say too much about this because we don’t know exactly why her husband wasn’t there. It’s possible that he was just out in the field, maybe he had died, whatever, the point was she was here as a single mother soliciting the help of Jesus. And some of you single mothers, you are in that predicament aren’t you? Your husband may no longer be in the family. Maybe there’s been a divorce. Maybe he’s died. Maybe he’s alive, but very disinterested, and it’s up to you. God bless you.
Can you imagine a day when the role of a woman was so diminished? In a male-dominated culture, this woman goes to thirteen men who are in the area. There’s Jesus and the twelve disciples, and she doesn’t care. Her child needs deliverance. Her child needs a word from Jesus, and so that’s what’s happening here in the text. She overcomes her religion. She overcomes her divided home. And then she overcomes the silence of Jesus. We just read the text. Your Bibles are open. She comes and it’s amazing to me that she knows who Jesus is. She got some good theology along the line. “‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ But he didn’t answer her a word.” Would you have been put off by that?
Those of you who are praying for your children, are you put off by the silence of God, the seemingly indifference of God when your child is out there needing help, needing a word from the Almighty, and that word doesn’t come? She knows that the silence of God, and you ought to write this down too, the silence of God is never a sign of the indifference of God. And even here when Jesus is silent, He is secretly plotting mercy for this child. I happen to think that’s why Jesus went into Tyre and Sidon—it’s because He knew there was a woman there who needed Him, a child that needed deliverance. People think that Jesus was rude. He seems to be so out of character with the way He reacts in other places. The only answer is that we have to find within the text itself what Jesus was after.
And so she overcomes the silence of Jesus. She overcomes the rejection of the disciples. Notice it says, “And his disciples said [sic], ‘Send her away, for she is crying out after us.’” They were saying, “She’s a nuisance. She keeps crying out after us. Get rid of her.” Now at that point, if you had been this woman, would you have backed off and said, “Enough already? If that’s the way these Jews are going to treat me after I came and sought their help, and that’s the kind of cold shoulder I get, ‘send her away,’ I’m out of here.” That doesn’t deter her. She doesn’t stop.
And then you’ll notice that the text goes on to say not only that, but the words of Jesus. He says, for example, in verse 24, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She hears it. The disciples hear it, and it’s very clear to them and that’s why they say, “Send her away,” in this context.
Now what Jesus was saying was true: “To the Jew first and then to the Gentiles.” Of course, eventually Jesus is going to become the Messiah to the world, to be sure, but for now He says, “I am sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That is my agenda.” That’s why He came. When He sent out the 70 it was, “Go only to the houses of the lost sheep of Israel.” So Jesus said, “That’s my mission,” and He speaks correctly. But again, what she hears is prejudice. “I’m a Canaanite and you Jews get all the blessing.”
This does not stop her. Notice in verse 25, “She came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’” And it still isn’t over. Jesus then says, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and to throw it to the dogs.” You know, don’t you, that the Canaanites, were called dogs by the Jews. That’s the New Testament expression as it reflects the culture of the day. Jesus is saying, “You know, the Jews are the children, and they get fed, but we can’t take food from them and then give it to the Canaanites, to the dogs.”
Now if, at this point, you are really struggling with Jesus, and if you are saying that Jesus seems to be harsh and uncaring, it might help you a little to know that in Greek there are two different words for dogs. One is those ferocious scavengers who used to run across the country, but that’s not the word that Jesus uses. Jesus uses the word for household pets. We could almost say, “It’s not right to take the food that belongs to the children and give it to the puppies that are around the table—give it to the little dogs.” And He may have even said that with a twinkle in His eye, but notice her response. She doesn’t disagree. She doesn’t say, “How prejudiced can you get?” She agrees and says, “Absolutely.” She said, “I don’t want anything that belongs to the children. Whatever it is that you give me, may it not diminish what the children get.” But she said in verse 27, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” You know the puppies? They get to lick up the crumbs. Don’t give me anything that diminishes the food for the kids. I’m not asking for a full meal. I’m just asking for a few crumbs. I’m asking for a little spillover of your blessing to me who is in this desperate situation. Lord, those crumbs are just going to be swept away anyway, and they are going to be thrown away. Can’t you give me a crumb?”
Wow. I read this yesterday and tears came to my eyes. Can you imagine this woman, this mother? And Jesus finally says, “O woman, great is your faith!”
Pause. Only twice did Jesus ever say, “You have great faith.” He said it to this woman who was a Gentile, and He said it to a centurion who was a Gentile. When Peter was about to go under the water after he began to walk on the water and go to Jesus, Jesus said, “O you of little faith.” Here was one of the children. Here was one of the Jewish disciples. He had little faith. To this woman Jesus said, “O you have great faith” He said, “Let it be to you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Can I ask you at what point would you have stopped in your intercession? Would you have stopped at the silence of God? God’s not answering and years have gone by. Why should I continue to pray? Would you have stopped because of the influence of other people in the church, like these disciples who said, “Send her away.” Because sometimes God’s people can be very difficult to live with. They can be judgmental. They can be like the elder brother of the prodigal son. They can be very obnoxious. Would that have stopped you, and would you have said, “I’m not going to intercede for my child anymore?”
Someone has said she scaled the walls of heaven and touched the heart of deity. Luther said she used the Master’s own words against Him and won His heart. By the time she came through all of those barriers, some of which were erected by Jesus and the disciples, Jesus could say, “O woman, great is thy faith.”
I think there’s another reason why Jesus answered her prayer. It’s because of her desperation. She was absolutely desperate. There was no way her child was going to be healed. She couldn’t have gone there herself and asked a demon to leave. Demons don’t obey us, except as we rely on Jesus. They ultimately obey Jesus, and at His word they must leave. But if you don’t have the Word from God, who are we that we can stand against evil powers? God loves desperate people.
Now, what I’d like to do is to transition just a little bit, and this is almost like two sermons in one, but it is still on theme. It’s on target. I’d like to give some advice—four or five steps or principles in praying for prodigals, some of which grow out of the passage of Scripture we just looked at together, some of which grow out of the parable of the prodigal son. Here are some practical suggestions as you pray for prodigals. Write them down. You say, “Oh, I don’t need them.” You may. If you are a parent, you may.
Prayer number one is “Lord, change me.” I’ve no doubt that when there is a prodigal son, God wants to do a work in the heart of the parents just like He wants to do a work in the heart of their prodigal. And by the way, from here on out, I’ll always talk about the prodigal as “him,” but of course you know that there are prodigal daughters just like there are prodigal sons. In fact, it’s probably about 50/50, though I’ve never done a poll on it, but I can’t always be referring to both genders. But “Lord, change me.”
I asked the question at the beginning of this message, “Is it always the fault of the parent when a child rebels?” And the answer is no. Is it sometimes? Do they contribute to it? Yes, through harshness of discipline, through self-righteousness, through a judgmental spirit that turns a child off and numbs their spirit. Through favoritism. Favoritism oftentimes is the thing that turns a child off. Yesterday, I was in what is known as Bughouse Square. It was quite an event that we had over there. Those of you who were there know it, but there’s a very famous skeptic whose name I will not mention, who has become a friend of mine. When you listen to his story of how his parents said to him, “Your elder brother has achieved— and look at who he is and you’ve done nothing.” You understand why he thought, “They don’t like me. God doesn’t like me. I’m going to be a skeptic.”
Parents, what you need to do is to say to God, “Is there anything we need to ask forgiveness for that has been part of the reason why our child is rebelling?” Now oftentimes, there is nothing. As I mentioned, you were excellent parents. You have four children in a family. One rebels, and the other three follow God. How are you going to explain that? It’s not the fault of the parents, but sometimes the parents contribute to it.
Years ago, I told you the story of a man who was sitting in the back row of a church. I always try to keep my eye on those of you in the back row and try to figure out why you are sitting so far away. [laughter] But I don’t mind that as long as you can still hear me. Can you hear me back there? I hope so. He was sitting in the back of a church and 200 men were on their knees praying, and in anger he said, “God, you’ll never get me. You’ll never humble me.” Well, later on he told the story that God humbled him. “God got him,” to use his phrase. He had to go to his five sons and confess to every one of them his anger, his inconsistent discipline, the bad witness he was to them. And as a result of that, new relationships were opened up, and pretty soon the children began to warm up to him and warm up to God.
The first thing you have to do is to say, “Lord, change me.” You see, when you look at the story here of the Canaanite woman, it’s very clear that Jesus didn’t just want to do a work in her child—the deliverance from a demonic spirit—Jesus wanted to do a work in her, too. He wanted to solicit from her the kind of brokenness, the worship, falling before Him—the kind of faith He could commend—Jesus wanted that also in her life. So there are two people that God wants to change in a family.
I remember a couple that confessed that the real reason why they were so angry with their child’s rebellion was because of their pride. You know, here we have this nice family in church. Everybody comes. Everybody arrives at the same time, and we all go home, and now suddenly this nice family has a girl like that. “You’ve disgraced us.” Parents, repent of that. The real issue is not whether or not your child disgraces you, the real issue is whether your child has disgraced God and the gospel. And what we must do is to humble ourselves. So the first thing to pray is “God, change me.”
The second thing to pray is, “Lord, he’s yours.” You know, I got a text the other day from a couple that’s dealing with a sixteen-year-old who got into pornography and that whole mess, and they’re trying to navigate their way through. Well, when you are sixteen years old, you still take guidance from your parents and all, and I understand that, though it’s becoming more and more difficult. But you know, there comes the time in the life of a child where you have to relinquish. That’s the word that came to me yesterday afternoon. You have to relinquish that child and say, “This child belongs to God.” And there comes a time when you don’t have to preach at him one more time about what he’s doing wrong. He’s heard it a thousand times. He’s rejected it a thousand times. He knows, he knows, he knows, but he’s decided to go in the opposite direction.
Parents, God can do what you and I can’t. So you have to be willing to pray, “Lord, he is yours.” I think of this woman, again, in utter desperation. “God, there’s nothing I can do to this child. There’s nothing I can say to the child or say to the demon. God, come and give me a crumb. Say the word. Give me a little bit of the overflow of your tremendous power. That’s all that I’m asking for.” And Jesus said, “O woman, great is your faith! May it be to you as you asked.”
All right, the second thing you pray is, “Lord, he’s yours,” and the third is, “Lord, change his heart.” Oftentimes, what happens when we have a prodigal is this. You will find that parents will say, “Now look, if you sleep together, look at all of the implications,” or “Stop getting drunk on the weekends. Don’t you see that you’re going to get into trouble?” Yada yada yada— It doesn’t work, does it?
Don’t you ever wish you could compel the obedience of your child? Wouldn’t it be great if we parents could make decisions for them so at last they’d get it right? I heard a few murmurs coming back from the congregation. I assume you’re still out there. Are you?
Do you know why you and I can’t compel obedience? It’s because we can’t compel the human heart. In the immortal words of Woody Allen, “The heart wants what the heart wants,” and you can’t shut down that want. So what you really need to do is to say, “Oh God, change his heart.” And that’s something only God can do. You can’t. How we wish we could, but we can’t.
If your child has never been converted, the Bible says that conversion is like causing the blind to see. Can you do that miracle? Can you cause a blind man to see? It’s like causing the deaf to hear. Can you cause the deaf to hear? It is like raising the dead. Can you cause the dead to rise? I can’t and I’ve proved it.
I’ve told you that years ago, I used to take young preachers to a cemetery and have them preach to the dead. Seriously. I wanted them to get the feel of what it was like to be a pastor. [laughter] It came out a little differently than I intended [laughter] but you got the point. I mean I’m serious. I would go to the cemetery, I’d ask them to choose a tombstone and preach to the dead and see if they could get them to rise. The color drained from their faces. I would do it and then I would say, “How do you feel?” They would say they felt pretty stupid and I would say, “Yeah, that’s the way I feel too.” And that’s the way you feel when you preach the gospel, except for the fact that God may cause a resurrection. [applause] If He doesn’t, it’s a lost cause.
So if the prodigal is unconverted, you’re praying for a miracle. “Change his heart.” If he is converted, then he can prove it because once you are converted, you mourn more over your sin than the unconverted do. The unconverted don’t mourn over their sin. They’re very comfortable with their sin. So what you pray is, “Lord, change his heart.”
Number four: “Lord, let sin run its course.” Now once a child is out of the home and old enough and on his way, you have to let sin run its course. One of the things you should never do is to help somebody in the far country enjoy the far country. The father of the prodigal didn’t go out and say, “You know, I just hate to see my kid eating with the pigs. I should go alongside and at least buy him a good meal.”
Do you know what brought the prodigal son home? It was the smell of pigs and the bland diet that he shared with them, and he finally came to his senses and said, “Enough already. I’m going to return to my father.” I wish he’d have had better motivation to come back to dad, but that was the motivation. Now once he got there he was glad he did.
Yesterday morning, I read a story about a widow who spent $200,000, including the mortgaging of her house, to help her wayward son stay out of jail, and to buy him out of all the trouble he got himself into, all the time saying, “Well, Mom, you know if you do this one more time, I’ll pay you back.” Two hundred thousand dollars. According to the story, he’s paid back about $1,500, and now I suppose he’s hitting on somebody else to bail him out. Sometimes sin has to run its course and people have to learn by experience that the way of the transgressor is hard.
Next, what you have to say is, “Lord, I’m going to wait. I’m going to wait to welcome him home.” And I mean both of those words. I’m going to wait, and it may take years, and when he’s ready to come home, I will be here to welcome him because I love him and I intercede for him, and I’ll always be there for that child. Never, when he comes home, will he find the door closed in his face because he has humiliated us. No, you’re always welcome back and I’ll wait for you to return.
Now, I can’t speak and preach on the power of praying parents without making a reference to my own parents. One day when Rebecca and I had been married just a few years, she said, “I want you to sit down. I have some news for you.” And she said, “I just got a phone call from Canada that your dad has cancer.”
All right, so Dad has cancer so he’s not going to probably live until their 50th anniversary, so the kids get together and they have a 45th anniversary because Dad ain’t going to live to number 50. Well, what happened was he went to church and the elders anointed him with oil, and somehow, for some strange reason, this tumor disappeared. The doctors said, “I don’t know. It’s not here, but come back every year to have it checked out.” [applause]
So after having a 45th, we had a 50th. And then for 55 we just took them out for dinner, but we had a big 60th. And then we had a 65th. And then we pulled out all the stops for a 70th. And they lived seven years beyond that—my father did. They lived together 77 years, but here’s the deal. At their 70th, I’m sitting beside my mother. Everybody is there. They’ve come from all parts of the country, and I said, “Mother, do you know the names of all of your great grandchildren?” I didn’t know who in the world all these kids belonged to. [laughter] And really, I’ll never forget her response. She went like this with her hand and said “Oh yeah.” She said, “I have a prayer list and I mention them to our Heavenly Father every day.” When Mother died at the age of 103, a day after her death, we found her prayer list. We took the prayer list and we photocopied it and we sent it to all of the children and the grandchildren and the great grandchildren. She had on her list 121 people. Also missionaries were on that list. We wanted the grandchildren to see that when they were born, in her own handwriting, she added them to the list. We wanted them to see that they were on Grandma’s list. I believe that my own life in ministry today is largely a result of praying parents.
Now I have to say, since then, Rebecca, my dear wife, has become a great prayer warrior, of course, and I also have to confess in all honesty, that she prays more earnestly in intercession for our grandchildren than I do, though I do pray for our grandchildren every week, cycling them through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
But what is it that Mother used to pray? She spoke English, but she used to pray in German, and I can still hear her prayers. I know exactly what she prayed, because she would pray this, and I suppose I’ve heard something like this a hundred times. She would say, “O Lord, give my children (and then she often named them) a hunger and thirst, but not after bread and water. May they thirst for you, and may they thirst for righteousness.” She used to pour out her heart praying that they would hunger and thirst for righteousness. And then she’d always include this. “May they flee from sin like one might flee from a serpent,” she used to pray. And so my dear mother went to her grave, praying for 121 people, perhaps not every day in her final closing months and years, but there it is. Praying parents have tremendous power.
Now, I have to say that we weren’t the perfect family that everybody thought we were. We had people fooled just like you have some people fooled too. [laughter] All right? But maybe that’s why both of my sisters were missionaries—one in Africa and the other in Mexico, each for thirty years. And my brothers walked with God. Praying parents.
I’m going to encourage you today by a story that comes from 1,600 years ago. There was a woman by the name of Monica. Monica was in an arranged marriage. She was a fervent Christian, but she married an unbeliever. She had three children. Two walked with God. One didn’t. One ran off and lived immorally with a mistress and loved the sinful lifestyle of sexuality.
Monica used to pray for her wayward son. She used to weep for her wayward son. One day she went to her bishop and her bishop, said this. They are very famous words in church history. Don’t you wish you would say something people would be still be quoting 1,600 years from now? The bishop said, “It is not possible that a son of so many tears would perish. You son will be saved.”
A few years before she died, her son was saved. Apparently her husband was also saved before he died. What she didn’t know when she died, and I always love this, was that she had a son who would be so famous in church history that actually he would have more impact on Christianity than any man who ever lived, apart from Jesus and Paul, and maybe John the apostle. His name was Augustine, sometimes pronounced “Augusteen.”
I could talk about him and his impact, some of it good, some of it, we would say, wasn’t good, but his influence was huge as an apologist for the Christian faith. And what happened was (and you’ve probably heard me tell the story) he was in a garden and he overheard some kids playing. And one seemed to be saying, “Take up and read.” So Augustine turned to this passage. I hadn’t planned to read it, but since I have a Bible here, I can. It’s the passage in Romans that says, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” And here he was deeply into desires and sexuality. He was so smitten with conviction, he was converted because “it was not possible that a son of so many tears would perish.”
Later on when Augustine wrote his famous book, The Confessions, which everyone should read, he talked about his struggle with sin, but in it he said, “My mother watered the earth with her tears.”
The power of a praying parent. Whether it’s a Canaanite woman of 2,000 years ago, Monica 1,600 years ago, or your life and my life, God is waiting for faith to put a stake in the ground, saying, “Satan, you will not have my child. I insist upon this and I will not stop praying and seeking. I will not be discounted and discouraged,” and Jesus will say, “O woman, great is thy faith! Let it be to thee as you will.”
And if you will, let us pray.
Father, I stand here today, giving gratitude to you for my own parents who prayed so fervently for us, and then I think of the many who perhaps don’t have parents like that, but they can be moms and dads and grandparents who do intercede for their children. Lord, as the months and years go by, may we never be discouraged, but may we continue to intercede and say, “Lord, we insist our child is yours. Bring them back home.”
Meanwhile, Lord, there are many prodigals listening to this message right now. I pray that they may turn to Christ. I pray that they might come to Father and home and say, “O God, we have rebelled.”
And now, before I close this prayer, could we have a moment and you talk to God? Would you pray for your prodigal? Would you pray for a prodigal, if you don’t have one, would you also pray? People, I’m speaking to you. And if you’ve never received Christ or you are a prodigal, tell God what He’s spoken to you about today.
Father, we pray today that people may get alone with you in a bedroom, outside, somewhere and spill out their hearts for their families, for their children, for their relatives, for this church, for all of us. And may we, to the point of tears, seek your face that we might hear. “Oh, let it be to you as you desire.” In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.