I am fully convinced of the need to pray for my children and the children I know. I’m sure if you’ve taken the time to read this article then you are too. We pray because we know God is sovereign over all things, that he is good in all he does and that he is ready and willing to answer our prayers. We feel the weight of both the privilege and responsibility we have been given by God to parent our kids and raise them in the training and instruction of the Lord. We know we need his help.
I have very good intentions when it comes to praying for my kids. I currently use the PrayerMate app to record my prayer points, and each morning (well, most mornings) I swipe though all five of their names as a prompt to pray.
Here’s what I’d like to be praying for them each day:
– That they would love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
– That they wouldn’t know a day without Jesus as their saviour and Lord.
– That God will choose them and call them to be his children and that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
– That God will be using every event, conversation and circumstance in their lives to point them to himself and grow them in Christlikeness.
– That God would be at work in developing their character. For him to help them overcome whatever particular temptations or tendencies there are for them to sin.
– That God will watch over them and protect them from harm and give them health, strength and energy.
– That God will be pleased to use them to build his kingdom, that they will display the fruit of the Spirit and be keen to share the love of Jesus with others.
– That God will meet all their individual needs for the personal stresses and difficulties of the present day. For his hand over their relationships with family and friends, for them to feel at home in our church family and be keen to serve.
– That as their mother I will be given all the wisdom, patience and love I need to love and care for them. That I’ll have the right words to say and actions to do and that my own sin and failings won’t drive them from God.
What a list! Here’s the thing though: I don’t actually pray all of these things for all 5 of my children each day. Or even any day. Sometimes I’ll pray for some of that list. Sometimes one of my children will be more on my heart than others for some particular reason, and I’ll mostly pray for them. I’m not always fair in prayer! Sometimes I’ll just pray whatever passage I have just read in the Bible for them. Sometimes I’m tired or busy or I haven’t left enough time to pray and I’ll sweep through their names in seconds with a quick general prayer for all of them. I am not a faithful or consistent pray-er. But praise be to God that his faithfulness and consistent goodness to me is not dependent on mine to him!
The wonderfully reassuring thing about prayer is it’s not about me saying some kind of magic form of words to get some desirable outcome spat back at me. God is not a vending machine. Recently I went with a team of Moore College students to learn about the Muslim faith from an Imam at a mosque. Something that really struck me about Islam is the incredibly central place of prayer. Prayer is one of the five pillars of their faith, and ought to be done five times a day in the direction of Mecca. The prayer that is said at these times is a ritual prayer, that is, the exact same Arabic words and actions must be used. The Imam explained if even one thing was not done in the proper way the prayer would be considered ‘invalid’.
As Christians we have a very different understanding of prayer. The power of our prayers is not in the words we say or how we say them, but in the person we say them to. It’s the God we pray to who makes prayer work. I can fall into the trap of thinking that if I just pray for my children often enough, or comprehensively enough, then somehow that will lead to them living as followers of Christ. There is no magic formula. Instead, there is our gracious heavenly Father, who we can approach with boldness and confidence to ask for his help. And we can rest in the knowledge that it’s he who created our children, who numbers the hairs on their heads, who loves them far more than we ever could. It is he who chose every little thing about them, including choosing us to be their parents. So even if all my good intentions to pray thoughtfully and comprehensively for my kids fail, yet I can be assured my wonderful God holds them in his hands.