In what area of your life do you feel the most responsible and at the same time, least capable? If you think about it, that’s a horrible combination. Being a husband could be that, except I know ultimately, my wife is an adult. And while I’m responsible to love her – and not often good at it – she has the capacity to choose and do what’s right. Being a pastor has been a challenge. At times, I’ve felt great responsibility and not very capable. But I always had others to share the load with, if I chose to.
The toughest challenge for me, in my own life experience, has been parenting. God gives you these little eternal beings and says, “set them on a course that will lead them toward me.” Boy, did I blow it a lot of times. I have probably given them as many bad habits and traits as I have taught them good. But that’s our calling. Parenting well is near impossible.
5 Reasons to Never give up praying for your children.
Praying keeps us honest about our own weaknesses.
Prayer provides the constant reminder that we don’t control much. And we it comes to parenting these autonomous, self-willed beings, it’s worse. Even when we can pick them up and put them where we want, we can’t control their minds or their hearts. We need the Maker of the human heart to do what only he can do (John 16:8-11).
Praying frees us from the anxiety we experience in parenting.
Parenting has to be one of the most anxiety-producing responsibilities we can have. Let’s think about it for a moment. This is another person’s life we’ve accepted responsibility for. Yikes! And look at me. I come into this ill-equipped. Most of us had only been taking care of ourselves for a few years when we naively thought, “Hey, let’s have one of those!” But prayer gives us another perspective. There is a God, who loves and who is at work. We can trust him, prayer is an exercise is active trust (Philippians 4:6-7).
Praying is the path to the wisdom we need.
Parenting well requires the wisdom of the ages. As we pray for our kids, we must realize God has given us a part in almost all the answers he has for them. We need to be able to discern. We can’t make them choose the best path. But like the Father who allowed his prodigal son to leave, but then waited for his return, we can know what we should do. Where does that wisdom come from? It comes from our Father above. How do we get it? We ask in prayer (James 1:5-8).
Praying keeps our hearts tender toward them.
Can you imagine a parent getting mad at their kids? Can you imagine feeling like you’ve cared all you can care? Can you picture the day when you’re afraid of the phone ringing because you expect to hear about another bad decision in the wrong direction? There are millions of parents who care, but for their own self-protection, they’ve shut down. Or, they’re on the way.
We’re told to pray for enemies! Those that cause pain are to be the subject of our prayers (Matthew 5:44-45). When we pray, we take the risk to love again. We know it will cost us something. But in God’s grace, we find the strength to offer it again.
Praying is the best way to serve them.
Prayer is God’s way of letting us share in meeting our children’s big needs. You know, those are the needs that reach through the years and into eternity. It’s true, he can and does work without our prayers. But he wouldn’t work in the same way. And we wouldn’t know the blessing of being part of his solution. We also would miss the opportunity to witness and share the news of God’s love and faithfulness.
How and what we can pray for our children.
Faithful prayers can take many forms.
Any way we communicate with God it’s a good thing. Kris and I usually pray for each of our children by name each morning before we leave for work. Sometimes I journal longer prayers. There are times when I whisper a prayer in my car or on my bed. Sometimes I just write their name on a page and trust the Spirit of God to pray for them (Romans 8:26-27).
But what should we pray for?
- Simply pray for their daily needs (Matthew 6:11-13).
- Pray they will hear the voice of Jesus (John 10:4-5).
- Pray God will redeem their pain (Romans 8:28-30).
- Pray they will know a life of living in deep fellowship with God (John 15:9-11).
A Little More of Our Story
We have 4 sons, 2 daughters-in-law (1 more on the way) and 2 grandchildren. We are so thankful for each of them. Their journeys are precious but have not always been easy. One of our sons, Michael has been on an especially tough road through addiction. Last year Michael heard God’s invitation to get well. And thankfully, he accepted it. Now he is on the road to health. It’s not been an easy road for any of us. But God has worked in all of us because we yielded ourselves to him in prayer. We weren’t perfect in it. But we have found God approachable and faithful.
Michael has a new Facebook blog, “Living in Recovery.” With his permission, I’ve posted one of his latest posts to encourage you to keep trusting the Lord for your children through the ministry of prayer.
Why isn’t God listening?!
I feel like someone needs to read this one tonight.
After I had been in rehab for a few weeks, I met with the campus pastor. He could tell through our conversation that I was really struggling to grasp the concept of what God’s grace actually looked like. I mean, my shame told me that I was not deserving of heaven, and my skewed concept of God told me that I’d never be able to please Him enough to get there. We talked for a bit and he told me to go sit on the porch (my favorite spot to sit and reflect in the Georgia heat). He told me to pray, and ask God to guide my hand, and write a letter to myself from God. So, I did. And here’s what He had to say. I feel like some of you just needed an easier way to hear what he’s saying to you:
“My child, I love you. It’s time for you to love the way I’ve loved you. It’s time for you to give forgiveness the way that I’ve forgiven you. I’ve walked with you through every dark alley on the wrong side of town that you’ve wandered through. I held you as you cursed my name for the physical and emotional pain you experienced, and you never cared to look to see what I protected you from. You were so selfish, but I love you. You’ve loved hard, but you loved wrong. You ascribed my perfection and all-sufficiency to the women of your life, most strongly your ex wife. You held these women above me as your number one focus. Where you should have held me, you held them. But I held you as you were destroyed by disloyalty. Because I love you. As you begged me to have the courage to end the misery your life had become, it was I who stopped you from doing my job. And as you sobbed at your lack of strength, it was I who picked you up to continue your battle. Because I love you. As you screamed into the night and accused me of not speaking back, it was you who had your hands over your ears. And I waited until you took them down. Every drunken prayer and cry for help, every desperate plea, I heard them all. And as you wept for your pain, I wept with you. Because I love you. For years you’ve said “Lord take my pain and anguish,” but you would never let it go. Every wrong turn you took I covered with red flags and warning signs, and you saw a few then put on your blinders. And you let the enemy take the reigns and lead you into his deception. And as you continued on I threw roadblocks in your way so that you may stumble and reassess your path. But you walked around and disregarded them and I wept for you. And when you finally fell into the pit, it was I who pulled you out. It was I who tended to your wounds. But the ones you wouldn’t let me tend to grew into an infectious disease. And slowly it spread to your soul, your heart, and your mind. You wouldn’t listen as I begged you to stop numbing those wounds, so I went to those who would and I spoke. As your parents prayed and asked me to keep you safe 2000 miles away, I told them you were sick. And they heard me. And they asked me how to help and I told them. And they asked me to remove your fingers from your ears just long enough for you to hear them and I did. And they begged me to protect you and I told them I’ve been protecting you every step of the way. Because I love you.”
I still cry when I read that. Because no matter what we could possibly do, our God still loves us. He hurts with you, he feels joy with you, and most importantly he loves you as much at your worst as he does at your best.
We never doubted God’s love for Michael. There were many times we wondered if Michael would ever feel that love. He does and he’s learning to trust it. It’s the best we can hope for, for any of our kids.
God has a heart for your son or daughter. He is already active in their lives. Your prayers taps into his love and allows you to share in all he wants to do. So, please keep praying. It’s the most we can do.