I have a Christopher Robin and a Tigger. My eldest son is mild, kind and wise. My younger son bounces around and never stops. I thank God for them daily, even when one is being the Minister for Justice and the other is being a crazy stuntman. Among the mess, chaos and noise, when the house is quiet and I am tucking their sleepy feet back under the covers, I pray.
I pray that they will have a ‘boring’ testimony. Once I told a friend the story of my surprising conversion in my 30s, from an arrogant atheist to follower of Jesus. She shook her head sadly. “I wish I had an interesting testimony. My testimony is so boring. I mean, I just was never not a Christian.” I remember clasping her hands and saying, “But that’s the testimony I pray my kids will have!”
It’s not that I don’t want the boys to have doubts or to unthinkingly just take my faith as theirs. But I pray fervently that there will be no great rebellion years that end with them walking away. I pray that they will think, wrestle and decide for themselves, but ultimately feel confident in their decision for Christ. I pray they will never know a day when they are not sure that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour and friend.
I don’t pray this because I want them to copy me or fit in at church. Of course, ultimately I pray this because I want them to be safe for eternity with Jesus, for his glory. And I also pray this because I know that as they get older and face tough times, God will be their anchor and comforter. I pray it because I know they will need him when they feel lost or alone, hurt or afraid. I pray it because I know the joy of delighting in God and how much richer life is when we glory in him and reflect his glory out to others. I pray it because I became a Christian later in life—I’ve been where they could be without Jesus. And it’s not a good place. I pray they have the hope of Christ to make sense of their lives and order their lives so they can live it to the full.
I pray for their physical protection. When they came along, I fell in love with them so deeply. And because I love them so deeply, my greatest fears are also tied up in them. But I know the only place to take my fears is to God. I don’t pray that they will live in a bubble. I want them to have a full life of fun and laughter, eating dirt and climbing trees and (probably) breaking the odd bone. But I pray for God’s protection from the darker sides of the world, where there are threats from risky situations and dangerous people.
I pray for them to grow as wise and godly men. As a single mum, this goes hand in hand with my prayers for myself as a mother to help me raise them well. I pray for wisdom as I take the lead spiritually while they are young, but gradually develop their spiritual autonomy and leadership. It is important that I prepare them to be their own men and godly leaders. I need to help ready them so that when they are grown, they are strong Christian men who can exercise godly leadership in their relationships, and aren’t looking for a best friend or wife to replace me as their spiritual leader.
Lastly, I pray things that are specific to them. I pray for resilience for my Christopher Robin and focus for my Tigger. I was greatly impacted by Paul E. Miller’s book, A Praying Life. This really helped me in working out how to invite God into the day-to-day of parenting with a view to their long-term growth, specifically by using Scripture to frame my prayers. It’s easy to forget praying about the day-to-day, but God wants us to talk to him about everything. Encouraged by this, I have been praying for growth in particular areas of my kids’ character. I put before God these areas that I know lie at the root of some of my boys’ daily struggles. This way, I am talking to God about the ins and outs of the boys’ lives which feels helpful and natural. It helps me acknowledge God an integral part of their long-term growth.
These prayers help me as a parent. In praying to God, I am asking him to help me to be his hands and feet in every moment. But I am also trusting my children to him. They are who God made them to be. And he entrusted them to me. I was chosen by him to be their mum. This is a gift and responsibility that I don’t take lightly, but that I do take joyfully, with his help.