I have a distinct memory from when I was in high school. I was sitting in the car, about to jump out and my mum was praying for some test or exam I had that day. I don’t remember what the test was. I don’t remember what she prayed. I remember how she prayed. Listening to her almost felt like eavesdropping. I was so struck that she really was talking to a God who really was there. She prayed as someone who was utterly confident he was listening and would answer for my good. God was real. My mum was petitioning his throne. Right there in the car. Now I don’t think my mum was overly fussed about my test, whatever it was. But her God was—and is—a God of big and small things. And so she prayed.
Now I have kids of my own and I try to pray with them and for them, like my mum.
On reflection, my prayers for my kids generally fall into three categories.
I pray for my kids’ relationships with God
This is probably my most common topic of prayer. I pray that they would know God, trust God, love God, always follow God. I pray they would make bold, courageous decisions for the sake of his kingdom. I pray that they would know deeply how much God loves them and know that Jesus died for them. I pray the Spirit would be at work within them. I pray they would treasure, trust and teach God’s word. Verses like 2 Peter 3:17, 2 Corinthians 5:15 and Ephesians 3:16-19 come to mind.
I pray for my kids’ relationships with people
I’ve been surprised how often the wisdom of proverbs becomes the fodder for what I pray for my kids. I ask God to give them helpful friends, to enable them to chose friends and relationships wisely now and in the future. I pray they would listen well to us as parents and to their other Christian teachers and models. I pray they would be kind, courageous, wise and sacrificial in how they treat those around them and that they would share Jesus with them.
I pray for myself as their mum
This is another way I pray for my kids. I pray that as their mum I would love them, be ever-curious about them, and know how best to show this to them in how I disciple them. I also ask God to change me to make me more patient, more wise and just more kingdom-minded in how I parent and model life to them. Just writing this article makes me again aware of how narrow and deficient my prayers are. I’ve been challenged to make them richer and broader.
Of course there are a myriad of other things we pray. We give thanks, we confess, we praise. We pray for less-sore tummies, that God would catch bad dreams before they come, that we would find blankie.
And, along with my husband Simon, these are things we pray both for them and with them. Sometimes when I pray with them I pray in a very kid-friendly way and sometimes I just pray as I would if they weren’t there. I guess I hope that one day they too will grab that sense that the God we are talking to is very real, and very good, and very close to those who call on him.