A pastor friend of mine once told me about a time early in ministry when his children were very young and excited that Christmas was fast approaching. My friend saw his daughters in the living room floor eagerly examining magazines featuring the attractive new toys popular for the gift buying frenzy of the season. As a young pastor and father, my friend knew that his modest budget could not possibly support the ambitious agendas of his daughters. This led him to offer a few words of realism about the financial resources available this year. One of the daughters spoke emphatically at him with a gleam in her eye, “Oh, Daddy, we are just wushing.” Wushing is the sentiment expressed by older children and adults when they form a wish list for Christmas.
Somewhere along the way, my Christmas wishing turned into more of an exercise of Christmas praying. This reminds me of another anecdotal account of how wishing and praying can match well in this season. There was a little girl who knelt by her bed with her Mom to say her prayers. This child was a fervent pray-er. On this occasion she prayed about the usual concerns and then offered thanks for the memorable blessings. But then her volume was raised to the intensity of a shout when she made one last request. “Dear Lord, you know I have asked for a new bicycle this Christmas and you know the good things I could do for You with it. Please give me a new bike for Christmas.” She closed the prayer with an amen, and then her mother asked, “Honey, why did you yell out your request for a new bike? The Lord is not deaf.” “I know He is not deaf, Mom, but Grandmother is and she is in the next room.”
Wishing and praying during the Christmas season can become one. However, I have formed a prayer list for Christmas filled with personal concerns, and not one of them is material in nature.
There will be gift buying, but this Christmas my main prayer is that I will not just buy a gift for my loved ones, but I pray that I will be a gift to my loved ones. The giving of the material things can veil the real desire of our hearts which is to give ourselves to those we love, especially The One– Jesus Christ the Lord!
When Christ came at Christmas He received gifts of value from a few admirers and worshippers, but most notably Jesus was the Gift in the truest sense of the word. Following in His footsteps I hope I can be a gift to someone this Christmas. That desire is more than a wish, it is a prayer. It is the mission of my Christmas experience. Do I still wish? Yes, but I enjoy praying more. Do I still buy gifts? Yes, but I want to be sure I am packaged well to be a gift to Christ and others.