Praying for a lost turtle

Posted on September 18, 2015 · Posted in Parenting, Prayer

The young daughter of a family friend realized that her pet turtle had gone missing while getting some sun in the backyard. This little girl had cared for this turtle for over a year. Understandably, the missing turtle brought sadness and hurt. I encouraged prayer for the return of the hard cased reptile.

It might seem to be a stretch to ask for the turtle to be found. Perhaps some would say that this prayer might offer false hope to the daughter. But let’s think this through. This provides a great opportunity to teach about prayer.

Anytime we pray we seek the face and care of the Lord of the Universe. We know that he is powerful and gracious and committed to the good of his people. Does that mean God is bound to bring this turtle back home? No, it doesn’t. So then the question to answer for this little girl and for all of us is, why pray if God might say no?

We pray because God has told us to pray. We also pray because we know that God will answer our prayer in the best way possible. This means that a parent can come to her child and encourage her to pray specifically for the turtle to be found.

Here is the teaching point. You have done everything that can be done from a human perspective. You have had an audience with the most powerful being in all of the universe. And you know that if God desires the turtle to be found, no force on earth can prevent that from happening. And if the Lord does not want the turtle to be found, then it won’t be.

So really this boils down to believing that what God does is good and best.

The conversation with the daughter could go something like this:

“Sweetheart, I know that it really hard about your turtle.”

“I just want to find him!”

“Okay, but remember we just asked God to bring your turtle back.”

“But maybe God doesn’t want him to come back.”

“Well dear, he may not. But what does that mean? Does God want to do bad things to you?”

“I don’t know.”


“Okay, he doesn’t want bad things.”

“So what we know is that whatever happens, we know that God is doing something good for you even if we don’t understand, even if it hurts. This is something mommy has had to learn. I have to trust God too. Like last week, when I lost my wallet. I really wanted it back. But God had another plan for me. This is your time to trust God.”

This conversation is just an example. But situations like this are great opportunities provided by God that will serve you and your children well for the rest of your lives. Do we want God to do what we want or do we want him to do what he knows is best? Sometimes what we want and what God wants coincide. But when what you want doesn’t happen, are you better off getting want you or what God wants? Coming to terms with this reality is a priceless blessing for you and your children.

Shepherding a Child's Heart DVD 2014

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.