Question 1: Did you tell your parents about this challenge you put to God?
Answer: Not that I recall. My family is learning of this episode at the same time you are! It is likely that I did not tell my parents because of how that might affect my getting the blue bike on my next birthday, but I cannot remember. Later on, while I did recall the event, it did not seem to be something that anyone else could understand so I just never told anyone about it until some time in my college years. Students were asked about experiences with God in childhood that had an impact on how they saw God now and this was clearly the one for me!
Question 2: Do you really think that children can pray and see answers to their prayers or hear something that God is saying?
Answer 2: Absolutely! In fact, it is much easier for children. They haven't had a lot of years to have society form them into thinking that God is only for Sunday. When a parent or someone at church tells a child that he can talk to God anytime, anywhere, the child just believes what the teacher said. It becomes a part of their life until someone lets them know it isn't "that simple."
Question 3: How old IS old enough?
Answer 3: I am not a Bible scholar, though I have studied Hebrew and Greek in the hopes of learning more about what the Bible is saying so I cannot really speak to this issue from the intellectual standpoint. I do believe that there is an "age of innocence" as many have taught for long centuries… not so much because I can make a case for it with long lists of Scriptural references; but, rather, because I have seen it in children. This example is one that I lived and I know it was truly an experience with the Living God. I have had other missionaries tell me that their children at the same age were found alone in their rooms, crying because of the sin in their life. They had never done this before so the parents were dumbfounded as to what might have brought on this remorse. The children had not "done" anything wrong about which the parents were aware and their behavior had not changed from the norm for them over the past year or so but, suddenly, they were found to be pouring tears by the bucketload over the sin in their lives! Each time they told another Christian parent about the event, they learned that a similar thing had happened to their own child at that age. How wonderful an opportunity to let the child know of the marvelous and complete forgiveness of the Lord Jesus!
Additionally, I have seen for myself that things happen when children pray! One toddler, around 17 months old, who knew few words saw his mother sitting on the sofa, folding his diapers and went over to her. The mother said, "Oh, Mommy, has such a headache today," to the little boy. Her son scrambled onto the sofa and stood next to her. Stretching out his arms, he laid his tiny hands on top of her head and softly, but earnestly said, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." Then he climbed down with a smile and, sure enough, Mommy's headache was gone! "Mommy" called me on the phone immediately after the incident happened and we rejoiced together.
I was foster mother to three small children, ages six months, two years and four years back in the mid-seventies. To help with the bills, I also had babysitting in my home for other children not old enough to be in school. We did not really have "Day Care" places in our small town so if a mother was able to work a temporary job or just needed to take a trip to the city an hour and a half drive away, the children were brought over to my house.
During this period of time I saw many evidences that the children and God were talking to one another! Whenever a child was "hurt" when the whole gang was playing a bit too zealously for the space and number of children, a high youth chair was put in the middle of the living room where the injured child sat and all of the little hands went out to touch the child. The little "under five's" were praying their hearts out for a minute or two and then they all went back out to play, including the little one with the ouwie. "Well, "you may say, "the children were just playing and no one was actually hurt." Maybe that was the case, sometimes, it is hard to say as I was not always presented with the injured limb or bumped head before the children gathered, prayed, and went out to play again. However, one time a three-year-old girl was screaming and the gang brought her to me. She held up her little hand and all of her fingers had a line across them near the palm. All of the fingers were bright red. The nailbeds were starting to blacken so it was not hard to believe that someone had shut the backdoor on her hand! The dozen little children prayed for her and it was impossible to see which hand had been hurt, even hours later… no blackened nailbeds or bruising at all! I will not give the details here so as not to make this blog post too long but, for those who are interested, you will find the details in the book we just published through WestBow Press and available on Amazon and a lot of other sites/places: Dealing With Our Fears When Letting Go Seems Impossible.( http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?field-keywords=Dealing+with+our+fears+when+letting+go+seems+impossible&url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&x=17&y=25)
Though most of the stories in this volume are related to a time served in a jungle village, there are also stories recounting the real salvation experience of the two-year-old and four-year-old who lived in my house, as well as the story of how the four-year-old led a three-year-old to give her life to Christ without any coaching from me… I was just the surprised adult onlooker!
When I worked in a unit for sick newborn babies I could quickly quiet a fussy newborn that was so small he fit in the palm of my hand by just telling him Bible stories. If I recited nursery rhymes, he began to fuss again so I returned to reciting the words of Psalm 23 or telling him of one of the miracles of Jesus. It was simply amazing to witness!
So, how old is old enough? As with many things of a spiritual nature, only God can know for sure but it seems to me that the children are telling us that they should not be excluded from what WE cannot really explain.