Our family is the farthest thing from religious fanatics that you can possibly get. We do, however, believe in the power of prayer and practice it liberally.

I was taught from an early age to talk to God like a respected and trusted older friend — a friend with compassion and wisdom beyond that of any human friend.

There isn’t a designated time we talk to God. While waiting for a fire truck to pass I can be seen always saying, “God bless you, boys.”

And not a cold day goes by when I don’t come home and verbally give thanks for our nice warm house. We never eat a meal without first giving thanks, and it was at the dinner table that our then-2-year-old granddaughter, Bella, learned about prayer.

Our mealtime prayer isn’t difficult, but it has some of that tricky Catholic language that uses “O Lord” and “these thy gifts” and the word “bounty.” Not difficult for an adult but pretty foreign sounding to a 2-year-old.

For about six months, Bella participated in the prayer by bowing her head and joining hands with those sitting next to her. She’d occasionally chime in a “bless us” at the beginning and she always got the “amen” part on cue.

Our daughter, Summer, Bella’s mom, started coaching Bell in the traditional children’s bedtime prayer soon after the mealtime grace was introduced.

That prayer didn’t have any tough words or tricky language, and Bella mastered it in very little time. Then Summer, remembering her own prayerful upbringing, started stopping Bella at the end by saying, “Bell, is there anything else you’d like to pray for?”

Bella’s Grandpa Dean was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis — Lou Gehrig’s disease — about 14-months ago. Bella calls him “Pa.”

The thing about ALS is that it’s not a shy disease. It’s ugly and brutal and the havoc it can wreak on a body is shamelessly obvious, even to a small child.

The first additional thing Bella started asking God for was to “let Pa feel better.”

Summer and I are part of a prayer posse of 11 women. It works much like the prayer chains most churches have, but we decided the word “posse” made us sound more fearsome and powerful.

I didn’t realize until two weeks ago that the posse now includes a 3-year-old child. Apparently now, when the posse in invoked, Summer makes sure Bella includes our petition in her nightly additional things to pray for.

My nephew, Zach, and his wife had been expecting their first child when the “baby-mama” was hospitalized with pre-eclampsia.

She was immediately entrusted to the prayer posse.

Two weeks ago, when Summer and Bella had a sleepover in Ottawa, I overheard Bella asking God to “please let Christina and her baby be OK.”

Five days later, Christina gave birth to a healthy, although premature, baby girl.

When enough days had passed for all of the scary medical equipment to no longer be necessary, Zach took pictures and posted them on Facebook and sent them by email to the family old timers.

Summer immediately showed the pictures to Bella who studied them very carefully before looking at her mom and saying, “Good job, God.”

And Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

Good job, indeed.

Linda Brown is Herald marketing director. Email her at lbrown@ottawaherald.com