I began by telling them how HAPPY my grandma is whenever I call her and asked if the kids had anyone like that who loved it when they called. They answered with grandmas, grandpas, cousins, etc. I told them the Lord loves to hear from us too.
Then, using a printed flip chart (HERE - I wish the words were just key words, but I love the artwork she found. Note, though, that there is a typo so I just whited it out and fixed it (see comments)), I had Primary Friends come up and each hold a page while we talked about the meaning of the words, especially "suffer the children to come to me" and "of such is the kingdom of heav'n".
In between verses, I had the kids close their eyes and asked for absolute silence. I asked them to remember the last time they prayed REALLY HARD for something. What was it for? How did they feel?
After they opened their eyes, I gave them the chance to share their stories. It was really sweet, and definitely brought a reverent spirit to both Jr. and Sr. Primary. I shared a personal story as well (see bottom), then asked: "Now here is a TOUGH QUESTION - what if your prayers aren't answered the way that you WANT?"
Hearing their responses to this tough question was really touching. I gave them the analogy that if my kids came to me before dinner and asked for a cookie, what would I say? No, of course. But what if they REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted the cookie and said PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!?!? As their mom, I know that even though they want the cookie, it wouldn't be best for them. Sometimes our Father in Heaven also has us wait for things we want, and we have to trust that He knows best.
When we finished the song, I bore my testimony that the Lord wants to hear from them, and that he will always be available to them.
I also posted some PICTURES around the room of children praying.
One night I told [my grandchildren] about losing something as a small boy. It was a little thing, but it was very important to me. I looked and searched and hunted and couldn’t find it. Finally I thought, “Well, why not ask Heavenly Father?” I knelt and prayed, and when I opened my eyes, there it was right in front of me (Gerald Lund).
Charlotte Clark was just six years old when her family left Nauvoo, Illinois, to travel west to the Salt Lake Valley. It was a long, long way to walk. Charlotte walked so much that she wore out her only pair of shoes. Every night when Charlotte knelt to pray, she asked Heavenly Father for a pair of shoes. One day Charlotte and her sister were picking berries when Charlotte saw a pair of shoes. She and her sister ran back to their mother and father, saying, “Heavenly Father sent me shoes, and they fit perfectly!” Charlotte’s father was concerned that the shoes belonged to someone who had lost them. He told Charlotte that if the shoes belonged to someone in their wagon train, she should return the shoes to their owner. Charlotte’s family showed the shoes to everyone, but no one claimed them. Charlotte’s prayer was answered.
As a boy, I had a lot of chores to do. With 13 brothers and sisters, there was plenty of work to go around. One of my jobs was to ride our horse, Old Smoky, and herd the cows to pasture. The only problem was that there wasn’t much green grass for the cows to graze on. It hadn’t rained for some time, and the land was dry and dusty.
One day, I noticed a patch of green grass growing beside the train tracks, underneath the railroad water tower. “I bet the cows will like that,” I thought. I clucked to Old Smoky. “C’mon, boy.”
Old Smoky was smart, and as long as I was riding him, he did what I wanted him to with very few instructions. But if he ever escaped, it was tricky to catch him. He liked running free and avoided being put to work.
When the cows were all busy nibbling next to the tracks, I slid off Old Smoky and sat on his reins so he couldn’t get away. Soon I was busy making necklaces out of snakeweeds, and I didn’t notice the reins slip out from under me as Old Smoky wandered away.
Suddenly, I heard a heart-stopping sound—the whistle of a big, black locomotive. I looked up to see the cows scattered all over the tracks. My family was very poor, and I knew that if any of our cows were killed it would mean disaster.
I leaped toward Old Smoky, but he danced away from me. I couldn’t herd the cows to safety without a horse!
The sound of the approaching train got louder. Panicking, I remembered what I had learned from my mother and my Primary teacher. I dropped to my knees right where I was and prayed. “Heavenly Father,” I cried, “please help me clear the cows off the tracks!”
Just then, the strangest thought came to my mind: “Look at how the cows wander past Old Smoky and he doesn’t run away. Pretend you’re a cow and crawl to him.” I was already on my knees, so I put my hands on the ground, too. On all fours, I crept toward Old Smoky. He didn’t budge. I grabbed his reins, stood up, and leaped on his back. Racing like the wind, Old Smoky herded the cows away from the tracks. He seemed even faster and smarter than usual. By the time the train blasted by, the cows were safely in the pasture.
I knew that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer and spared my family from tragedy. Only He knew that I could save my herd by pretending to be a cow.'
I also learned about prayer from my mother. I grew up in the country on a cattle ranch. When I was eight or nine, my dad gave me a Shetland pony for my birthday, and I was really happy because I liked horses. A few days after I received this gift, a couple of boys asked if I wanted to go horseback riding with them. Mother said that I could go, so I rode with them for about three hours into the mountains. Suddenly, the two boys looked at me and said, “We have to go home now. We promised our mothers we would be back soon.” They had big horses. Mine was a little pony. They took off on a gallop, and my little pony couldn’t keep up with them. When they got out of sight, I stopped and I had no idea where I was. I became frightened.
Then I remembered what my mother had told me—if you get in trouble or if you need help, remember that you can pray to Heavenly Father. I got off my pony, knelt on the ground, and prayed. I don’t remember what I said, except “Please help me to get home.” After I finished my prayer, I got back on my pony. I sat there for two or three minutes holding the reins, not knowing what to do. I decided to drop the reins on the horse’s neck. After a few seconds, the horse started to walk. He walked faster and faster, and just before dark he walked into our backyard.
A few winters ago, my sister Mallory and I went across the street into the woods to find a Christmas tree. Later, the whole family would return to cut it down and we would decorate it in family home evening. After a little while, we finally found a good tree. We were heading back to the house to tell my dad when we realized that we couldn’t recognize anything. It was getting dark and that made me a little queasy, because in our area coyotes come out at night.
I told Mallory I thought we should say a prayer, and she agreed. We stopped and asked Heavenly Father to help us get safely home before it became too dark. After our prayer we started walking again. Only minutes later we saw a light and began running toward it. Soon we came to a clearing and saw our house. Later that night when I was snuggled in my bed, I said an extra prayer in my heart thanking Heavenly Father for our safe return home and for the power of prayer.
One day at church I wasn’t being good. When I came home I felt really bad. So I went into my closet and shut the door. I knelt down and asked Heavenly Father to forgive me. I felt better after I prayed, and I knew I was forgiven. I know Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I know He will forgive us if we repent. Sydney Miller, age 10 Nampa, Idaho
Some personal stories:
When we were at our cabin a few weeks ago, our car got stuck going up a big hill on our way out. I couldn't back up because the rear end of the car was close to a small cliff, and I couldn't go forward because the wheels were spinning. We were far away from the main road and there was no cell phone service. My son and I prayed that we would be able to get home safely. We tried and tried to get the car unstuck, but couldn't. After a while, though, we were able to hike to a nearby cabin and find someone home!!! They had a truck and a tow rope and were able to tow us up the hill safely.
When I was in college, I got a serious infection in my leg. Despite antibiotics, it wasn't getting better. There was a chance I would have to have my leg amputated. My father gave me a prayer and a priesthood blessing and I felt very comforted and knew that everything would be okay. Eventually the antibiotics began to work and I was okay.