This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.
The hectic pace of raising children often has the effect of leaving parents exhausted at the end of every day. So much of our energy is devoted providing for, tending to, nurturing, teaching, and—above all—loving our children. All of these efforts are necessary and important.
There are many times that I have felt I was not doing enough for my children. I still feel that way often and I’m sure there will be times in the coming years in which I will be plagued by those feelings. There is so much pressure to do this or that for one’s children, that a parent can often feel substandard. Many parents often recognize that they are not perfect people nor perfect parents and so feel discouraged when they fall short. (And we all fall short from time to time).
I’d like to share a very important truth: there is one thing you can do every single day that will benefit your children above any sport, lesson, schooling or extra-curricular activity:
Pray for them.
I know it sounds trite and repetitive, but we need to stop making prayer a triviality. It is vital.
It does not matter what age your children are, pray for them.
If you do not have children, you likely have friends with young children. Write down their names and pray for them.
I am not the only one who recommends praying for children. Doctor James Dobson gives this advice on his website:
Most important, I urge you to hold your children before the Lord in fervent prayer throughout their years at home. I am convinced that there is no other source of confidence and wisdom in parenting. There is not enough knowledge in the books, mine or anyone else’s, to counteract the evil that surrounds our kids today. Teenagers are confronted by drugs, alcohol, sex, and foul language wherever they turn. And, of course, the peer pressure on them is enormous. We must bathe them in prayer every day of their lives. The God who made your children will hear your petitions. He has promised to do so. After all, He loves them more than you do.
What should you pray for?
Every child has different needs and you ought to tailor your prayers to the temperament and need of the child.
For example, I have three very young children and each one has a completely different temperament. I have an over-the-top strong-willed, but sensitive child; a compliant-tenderhearted child; and a stubborn-sensitive child. I craft my prayers to fit each little soul that has been placed within my care for this brief period.
For the strong-willed child, I pray that the Lord can mold her strong will to be a firm wall against falling into temptation or peer pressure and that she will learn obedience to authority so that one day she will be obedient to God. For my compliant child, I pray that the Lord will continue to develop and enrich her heart of compassion and also strengthen her will to ward off temptation and peer pressure. For my youngest child, I pray that he will be strong in character, learn obedience to authority (especially God’s) and influence others to do what is right.
Here are some general points to address in prayer for your children:
- Pray for them to have a heart for the Lord.
- Pray for the Lord to bring friends, mentors and teachers into their life who will help guide and encourage them to serve God.
- Pray for their future spouse, and the parents of their future spouse.
- Pray for their protection, both physical and spiritual.
- Pray for God grant you (or their parents) wisdom to train them up with love and diligence.
Don’t wait for your babies to grow up. Start praying now. Pray while they are in the womb. Pray for them as you change their diapers. Pray for them when they are throwing temper tantrums and shouting at you. If you haven’t been praying for your kids, the time to begin is now, no matter how old they are. Do not discount the great effect that your prayers can have.
Let’s pray diligently this week for our children (or the children of our friends). Don’t stop at the end of the week. “Bathe them in prayer” throughout their lives.