Broken tablets, bedtime stories, and thoughts on prayer

When reading stories and saying prayers with our son Isaac before bedtime, every once in a while he and I will watch a short program on our tablet computer.

My wife and I do very well to limit his screen time and engage his learning in other ways, but a little TV watching or electronics use here and there can also serve to entertain and educate him.

One night not long ago, I was trying to find a children’s show for us to watch together as part of our pre-bedtime routine.

After Isaac decided what show he wanted to watch, I began to locate it on our tablet, only to run into some computer delays.

Growing frustrated after waiting a couple of minutes for the program to load, I chose instead to show him some pictures and videos of family and friends saved on the computer.

That, too, proved to be ineffective, as the screen just froze up after a few moments.

At that point, I was turning somewhat agitated and wanted to prepare something quickly in order to keep Isaac from becoming upset.

So, I resorted to shutting down the tablet and restarting it. After all, a simple reboot would do the trick, right?

As it turned out, the tablet didn’t respond that night, leaving me to think quickly and come up with another plan.

Fortunately, my Daddy imagination charm was in full effect, so once bedtime reading and prayers concluded, I enticed Isaac into listening to a special story. I built it up with the greatest enthusiasm possible, convincing him this hilarious tale would be one for the ages.

Watching his facial expressions and seeing him hang on my every word with both interest and excitement, I led Isaac on a creative journey, all the while feeling exhilarated and proud to have such bonding with my little man.

As I gave him his nighttime blessing, I couldn’t help but think this whole experience wouldn’t have happened had it not been for our tablet freezing up earlier.

It was in that moment I thought of God’s responses when we call to Him and how He always replies to our prayers and needs.

While we may sometimes not get what we ask for, we must realize God always answers our prayers and never says no.

If one stops to consider it, we can see how God will always answer us using one of three responses – yes, not yet, or I have something better in mind.

For instance, sometimes our prayer request is granted almost immediately.

Praying before a final exam for a feeling of calm and confidence about our studies can lead us to a successful performance and grade. Asking God to help us remain focused when going for our driver’s permit test can help us obtain our license.

Other times, our prayer is fulfilled after several weeks or months.

Wanting to date a particular person, this individual may not immediately be interested until getting to know us much more and appreciating more about us in the process. Or, perhaps there are matters in their lives of which we are not aware, and only when life settles for them can they be in the right frame of mind for there to be a mutual fit.

Our patience and persistence in prayer could be tested even further, discovering our prayer is answered after a few years.

Unsuccessful in an interview for that dream job, we might simply require more experience before being fully qualified. Maybe the company first needs to alter its business planning structure prior to hiring us, or the original candidate leaves for another position. Such situations can certainly swing opportunity’s door wide open again.

What we could also learn when praying is that, while God will not always provide us exactly what we seek, He may ultimately give us what we desire five or tenfold.

Pinning our hopes so strongly on a particular college or university can be devastating if we receive a rejection letter in the mail. Yet, it is only after we graduate with honors from a different institution – where we wound up meeting our future spouse with whom we are blessed to have children and live in a comfortable home – that we realize it was all part of God’s plan.

No matter the example, it is important to have faith in God, believing without worry He knows us and will grant us all that our heart wishes and needs (Matthew 6:25-26).

Having this certainty in what has yet to happen is by no means a cinch, and yet, we are called to be hopeful that our Lord listens and attends to the voice of our prayer. (Hebrews 11:1 & Psalm 66:19)

I once heard it said, “God does not bend His plan to fit our preference. We must bend our will to fit His.” Now, these words may be far easier to say than to live, and yet surrendering to God is crucial in order for Him to work His mission for our overall good.

It is in so doing that we may grow to be less frustrated and agitated, and more joyful and exhilarated.

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About the author

Matt Charbonneau is a high school Religious Education teacher based in Ottawa who inspires his students to explore a deeper relationship with God. Applying uplifting lessons, engaging activities, and insightful experiences, he strives to demonstrate the powerful presence and unconditional love of God in everyday life.