Mommy, will you ask God to send his army of angels, again, tonight?
When she was young, every night – without fail – Erin asked me that question. One night, when she was scared, I asked God to send an army of angels for protection, and that was it. For years afterwards, every single night, she wanted those angels to come back.
Back then, we lived a few miles away from a waste management plant, which we referred to as the poo-poo plant. As you can imagine, the odor from that facility is something fierce. If the wind blew just right, we could smell it from our house. And forget the days immediately following Thanksgiving or Easter. Goodness! It was rotten.
Driving past it, one day, I mentioned the particularly awful smell that was being emitted from it, and to our surprise, Erin perked up. “There’s no such thing as a poo-poo plant,” she adamantly proclaimed from her car seat.
It took me a few minutes to make the connection, but then I got it. From her innocent perspective, I realized for all of these years when I said “poo-poo plant,” my sweet little Erin Bug, as we still affectionately call her, had pictured a plant – like a bush or a flower – literally growing, well, poop. All I could do was laugh. No wonder she was so put off by our ridiculousness. You’re absolutely right, Erin, there is no such thing as a poo-poo plant.
Children see the world from a different perspective and it reminds me that what we say matters. How important are the words we use, the words we choose?
I believe our words are very important. They are powerful. Proverbs 12:6 tells us words have the power to destroy and the power to build up. They can either cause confusion, hurt and anger or they can show love, support and understanding. How are we using our words? Are we using them to love or to hate? To tear down or to bless?
The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21) and at our death, we will give an account for each one we have spoken. “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37). Words are so important that we will be held accountable for them before God.
When I used the words “poo-poo plant,” they meant something completely different to Erin than what they did to me. And when we prayed for an army of angels, our words meant that we were asking, specifically, for lots of protection.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d love to know what her little five, six, seven, ten year old mind saw. What did it look like to her? And how would it feel for her to know that God sent his best of the best to guard us?
Imagine it for a minute: God’s soldiers, the strongest of all the angels, fully dressed in military uniforms with the grandest collection of artillery and combat gear available, massive white wings and golden halos – and they’re all standing guard to protect Erin, her family and her home. Believing this, she felt safe.
And how many did she see? Hundreds? Thousands? All of them surrounding our house – outside of her window, at each door and maybe even some on the rooftop watching for the enemy? There’s no way any bad guys were going to get past them, no sir.
In my adult mind, I will admit, I saw something completely different. But then again, she was approaching our prayers in childlike wonder, with childlike faith.
Throughout scripture, we are told to have faith. In fact, “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). What’s more, Ephesians 6 tells us that faith is part of the armor of God and is like a shield with which we protect ourselves from the “flaming arrows of the evil one.” So by Erin asking for those angels, and believing wholeheartedly they were there, she was speaking powerful words that pleased God, while displaying complete, childlike faith.
Just as importantly, she believed in the power of prayer. Erin believed, and still believes I might add, in prayer so strongly that, as she got older, she was the one who would always be mindful to say, “Don’t forget to pway,” as she scampered off to her room.
Coming from your child, those are some of the most powerful words you’ll ever hear.
Erin believes in the power of prayer so much, she even taught Louis to pray.