The “prayer” jar project
In 2012 I was asked to lead a short program for our staff kids, on the topic of prayer. Prayer has been an integral part of my Christian life, because coming from a Muslim background as well a short involvement with Bahai’s, I saw the difference of praying in the name of Jesus, as soon as I finally came to Christ.
Prayer in the name of Christ, made God real to me, as I would see my prayers answered. Heaven was not silent anymore like in the past. I was amazed and convicted that Jesus was the Savior. I kept a prayer journal and would highlight every answer, which became an altar of worship and a testimony of the fact that Jesus was alive.
Back to my story, with the chidlren’s program. I thought of what could I do with the kids that would help them record their prayers and answers to them. I came up with the idea of decorating a jar to store their prayer requests. I asked them to bring a jar from home, and then each of the kid decorated the jar, painted their name on it. After I shared with them about prayer, I asked them that every night after their prayer time, to record their prayers from now on, and store them on the jar. The jar would serve as a journal for them. For those who did not know how to write, I asked them to have their mom, dad or sibling helping to write their prayers. I asked the parents to plan a special time for Christmas where they would go through the prayer requests stored in the jar and celebrate the answers of prayers; put back inside those that were not answered yet,and keep praying for them if they were still important. My children were part of that program too, so we came back home with three “prayer” jars.
At that time our kids were asking us to take a dog. We did not want a dog for several reasons, cultural, but mainly because we were renting an apartment, and usually owners would not allow you to keep a dog in the apartment. It is very common in our culture, for people to keep dogs in the rural area or if they live in a house not apartment. They keep dogs to guard the house and train them to be aggresive to scare strangers and keep thieves away. But it was not common to have families keep dogs inside as pets. Some people who had been abroad started to take dogs but that was seen with contempt at time from others.
Mom says no, but what God will say?
One night our older daughter brought the topic of having a dog, and I told her that we could not take care of a dog. She jumped down from her bunk bed, almost in tears and broken hearted, grabbed her prayer jar, took out a handful of small pieces of folded papers where she had written her prayer request to God to bring her a dog, and said: I will throw these away. That was not a reaction to manipulate me, it was a reaction in discouragement and kind of a give up. I do not know why, but I told her: “Please put them back in the jar. Put them back there. Mommy is saying no, but you do not know what God will say”. At that moment I was not thinking that I would change my mind, but it seemed as I was somehow speaking prophetically.
Will we get the dog?
Not long after that, I had to go get something to a store where I would shop time after time. On my way there, I was reminded that I did not have cash thus I had to reroute myself in order to go to the bank. That meant that I had to go to the store from the opposite side of it. As I got right to the corner before the store, here it was in front of me a new pet store. I was drawn first to see the birds, as we used to have a bird, and then I saw this little skinny dog, sitting with a little boy at the threshhold of the store. I had never seen that kind of breed. I was drawn by the meekness and sweetness of the dog, her long ears, long nose, her white hair with brown spots on her face. I asked the boy if I could touch the dog. Then I asked about her breed, how old was she, and if she was his. He told me that the dog was for sale. The price was really low, comparing to prices in the pet shops it was like giving her away for free.I asked him if I could take a picture of her and show it to my kids. So I went home and kids got excited. They wanted to see the dog, thus we took a short trip to the store. They loved Lilly and took her on a short walk hoping I would take her home immediately. But I told them that we needed to talk with daddy. The store would be open till 9:00 pm and I told the owner that if I did not come back till then, I had decided not to get the dog.
We had a long discussion at home, on pro and cons, I made some calls to other friends who were dog owners, and came to a conclusion to get the dog. We had one problem though the time was short. We might not find the store open at that hour. I prayed that God would keep the store open till we would arrive there, if that was His will for us. I don’t know if that was a right prayer, or build a theology on that, but it reflects my inner battle around the decision. When we arrived at the store, the owner had just closed it and was about to leave. That night we walked back home with Lilly. Her name was Lola at that time, but our kids renamed her Lilly.
Tribute to Lilly
Lilly was such a beautiful, sweet, gentle hearted, the most loving, tender, playful, patient dog. We have thousands of happy and joyful, fun memories with her. She brought so much into our lives with her tenderness and fun personality. My heart breaks as we had to say good bye to her 4 days ago. Loosing her is so painful, a pain sharp and deep as every separation from a dear friend. I embraced Lilly with all my heart from the very first day when we decided to take her to our home, and to me she was always the “prayer” jar dog, a testimony of God goodness and faithfulness to my kids. Through her He showed that He did not despise their prayers, but would answer them with this perfect gift called Lilly. I learned not to be afraid to love and give, because love asks us to walk extra miles. Yes, I had to clean our house more often, I had to take her out for walks even when I was tired, but that’s what sacrifical love do. I experienced God’s unconditional love for me in a new depth from taking care for Lilly, even though I was in no way near the kind of love and care God pours on us. I have been so blessed by raising Lilly. I learned so much about God’s heart toward his creation and how He has embraced us and taken us home, even though we don’t deserve it. Washing Lilly after walks outside, reminded me of holiness as an non negotiable condition to live into God’s house and the fact that He himself would make us clean. Taking care for her food or change her water, it reminded me of how God gives me the best everyday and that He loves to bless me. I thought of Him often as the perfect Shepherd who daily leads us to clean waters and green pastures.
And who thought that by taking Lilly home, I was the one who would be enriched.