Two years ago, when my elder one’s twin toddlers visited our home and got stuck in India because of the imposed lockdown, I spent the day humming nursery rhymes and other baby tunes which they listened to and which automatically became part of our melody experience.
This time, I found a difference: They were now four and a half years old, tiny little men with minds of their own, and soon found they could sneak into my room, whisper a code word, ’trains’ into my ear and I would put my computer onto YouTube and allow them to watch not trains, steam engines or anything remotely connected with steam and diesel, but film commercials of toys that they found hugely interesting.
“Toy manufacturers,” explained my son-in-law, “have now found a quick way to sell their toys. They exhibit them in little videos, and at the end of it, children are drawn into demanding the same from their parents.”
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I was intrigued and listening to the conversation of the two, as they either lay on my bed or sat on my lap, would see them looking at each other after a toy story and saying, “Let’s ask Dad!”
“Ask dad what?” I would ask teasingly, and they would both roll their eyes and say, “To buy that toy for us!”
They knew what they wanted from their father.
Many years ago, over two decades to be exact, a kind hearted soul used to visit me for donations for the upkeep of some orphan boys he looked after. As he left my home, he would say, “Pray for me Bob!”
I was intrigued by these parting words and one day, couldn’t help myself blurting out, “Pray for what?
He looked surprised and said, “For my plans to build an orphanage!”
“Show me the plans!” I told him.
“I don’t have any!” he said.
“Then what do we pray for?” I asked and asked him to come back in. “Let’s work out what we want to pray for!” I said gently and we drew out rough plans.
A few years back, as he celebrated twenty five years of his orphanage, which had four buildings and housed one hundred and five children, he suddenly called me on stage and told the huge crowd of well-wishers, “This man, taught me to be specific when we ask God for something, and look around and see what God gave us, when I did!”
How glibly we throw words at each other, “Pray for me!” “Keep me in prayer!” and so on, without telling each other and even God what we want, or what we need prayer for.
Ah well, the toy manufacturers have caught on to it, and it’s time you and I did. So, let’s be specific when we ask Dad from now on..!
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