Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mt. 19:13-14)
I love the imagery of this passage: parents bringing their children to Jesus, and Jesus welcoming them, literally with open arms (Mt. 19:15). For parents who know Jesus Christ, there is nothing more natural than wanting their children to know him too. The disciples, however, were curmudgeons. The children were getting in the way and interfering were their ministry plans. It’s important to note who Jesus rebukes: it’s not the parents who want their kids to know him; it’s the disciples who want to keep them away.
Jesus has a heart for children. Elsewhere he says,
whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Mt. 18:5-6)
Pray that we would be a church who welcomes and loves children—even when they are noisy, messy, and get underfoot. Pray that God would open doors for us to minister to children, and that we would be effective in doing so. Pray that he would raise up volunteers to teach small children and to change diapers in the nursery. Pray that we would receive children in Jesus’ name and not cause them to stumble. Pray that our church would be a safe place for children.
Finally, pray also for the children in our community—that they would be loved, safe, and that through our church or some other means, they would come to know Jesus.