When you lay you down to sleep, do you ask God your parents to keep? Is praying for your parents a regular part of our quiet time? I don’t mean just thinking positive thought about them, or hoping good things will come their way. Do you pray for them? Do you approach the throne of God on their behalf asking for God’s direction, God’s blessing, and God’s presence to be real in their lives?
Part of the maturation process into adulthood is that you move from a relationship of dependence into interdependence (notice interdependence, and not independence). This affects all areas of your life including emotions, finances, and spiritual growth. You should be moving from a position of them helping you, into a place where you encourage one another in your faith.
I asked parents what they wanted they wanted you to pray for, and here are a few things that they said.
“I would love my kids to pray for me, asking for my health, wisdom, strength through difficulties, and peace. “
“I would pray that they would pray for my illness, and that God would use me through it to reach the lost.”
“I would also love to ask them to pray for the blessing of our family to remain close all the days of our lives.”
“I would love if my kids prayed for us. Our health, to enjoy life, to stay connected to them, and continue to walk in faith.”
How you pray for them, is really dependent on who they are. What are their struggles, their strengths, and current circumstances? What we pray is not nearly as important as the fact that we do pray.
Notice their similar language. “I would love…” It seems as if many of your parents don’t feel as if you do, but would LOVE it if you did. Even as I write, I am moved and convicted of my short-comings in this area of my life.
So rather than just talking about prayer. Let’s do some praying.
1. Take a moment right now to pray for your parents.
Thinking of their personal struggles and obstacles they are currently facing in their lives. Don’t click a link, or move to point #2, until you have done it. Truly…
2. Go back to point #1, until you really did it.
I warned you.
3. Add your parents to a regular prayer list.
You don’t have to be an organizational nut to have a prayer list. A prayer list can keep you from unhealthy repetition, and endless selfish requests.
4. Send them a note telling them that you prayed for them.
Now you can click away – to your facebook, e-mail, or skype to send them a message that you prayed for them.
Our relationships will deepen as we pray for one another.
I’m not sure when my nighttime routine began, though I’m fairly sure it was after I became a father. It’s nothing very elaborate, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. It is, truly. In fact, I find I can’t sleep unless it’s all been done.
Much of it revolves around a final pass through the house. I make sure the doors are locked and the porch light is on. (The second seems to take more importance; there are plenty of folks here who don’t bother locking their doors, just as they leave their keys in their vehicles. Don’t tell anyone, though. Our secret.) I make sure the timer on the coffee pot is turned on, and that the lamp by the window is lit in case someone stumbles out of bed thirsty in the middle of the night. I’ll check to make sure my son is adequately covered and hasn’t flipped and flopped his blankets off. My final stop is to check my daughter’s sugar, because she may sleep, and we all may sleep, but diabetes never does.
I always pray over my children then. Every night, without fail. They don’t know this; I’ve never told them. I suppose doing so is as much for my benefit as theirs. I have an uneasy relationship with the night, which may be why it appears so often in my stories. It’s the time of day when I get most of my work done, and yet I spend much of that time peering into the shadows for what isn’t there. My prayers are the usual ones—help us to sleep well, bless our family, let Your angels stand guard.
And keep us safe, always that. Always a lot of that.
I once heard a preacher talk about praying for safety. He said Christians shouldn’t place a premium on such a thing as that. This is, after all, one of the safest countries in the world in one of the safest times in history. Praying for security is a waste of our words, he said. What we should pray for instead is boldness. That’s what we need. We’re often content to remain where we are because that’s where everything is safe and familiar. God wants us to go forth and conquer new lands, both within and without. He wants us to Become. According to the preacher, there is no Becoming in safety.
I’ll admit he stepped on my toes a little with that. It’s probably true that I need more boldness than safety, just as it is true about all those new lands. I know I need to Become.
So maybe instead of praying that God will keep my family safe, I should pray that he will keep us on our toes. Rather than asking that his angels stand guard over us, I should ask that they charge ahead of us into new places and new ways of seeing things. Maybe I’ve been tricked into thinking that my life is better thought of as something to be endured rather than made better, as if my purpose in being here is to comfort myself before I comfort others.
But maybe praying for safety is important, too. It reminds me that despite what I might sometimes believe, I am small. Just a tiny speck in a big world that is oftentimes much more scary than it is beautiful, and in need of a great deal of help. Perhaps if I had the faith of that preacher I once heard, I wouldn’t need to ask for so much safety. Perhaps if I had his view of the world, I would see no reason to fear anything. I would instead see the battle as already won and the last sentence already written, one punctuated with an exclamation point rather than a period.
That is the hope for which I aim. That is the faith I want. And I believe I do not yet have it because I look at this world and see an encroaching night. I see so much of what has gone wrong. So tonight, I will add to my prayers for safety a will to chase away what shadows I can. I will pray that I can peer through the night to see the day behind it. I will see what has gone wrong with the world, and what I can do to make it right.
Billy Coffey dreamed of being a published author ever since high school but vowed he would never be a novelist. Four novels later, God had a different plan in mind. Coffey’s novels tackle faith’s big questions against the backdrop of the rural South, where history is long and things are seldom as they seem. His latest release is The Devil Walks in Mattingly.
Coffey aims to remain as true to reality as possible — the reality that we experience pain, loss and confusion. He doesn’t want his readers to escape reality, but embrace life and live it better. He also uses his blog, “What I Learned Today,” to reflect on life’s lessons offered in small moments, people and everyday life. Coffey lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
For more information about Billy Coffey and his books, visit his online home at www.billycoffey.com, become a fan on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.
Publication date: April 25, 2014
By Will Davis Jr.
Mariah approached the beginning of middle school as a happy, normal sixth grader. She was a good student, she would be attending her neighborhood school with her best girlfriends, and she was excited about the new adventure. But that all changed on the first day of school.
Mariah basically experienced the equivalent of a panic attack. She started crying uncontrollably and inconsolably. Tragically, the scene was repeated almost every day of that school year. Her mother would drive her to school but was often unable to get Mariah out of the car. Other days, Mariah would make a brave attempt to face her school fears, only to spend most of the day in the counselor’s office or crying at her desk. Her new adventure had turned into a nightmare.
During that time, Mariah’s parents did everything they could to help her. They prayed for her and with her. She started seeing a professional Christian counselor, and her school counselor worked with her every day. She also started taking antidepressants.
The next year, as Mariah was about to enter seventh grade, she and her parents agreed that she would try a new school. It was a Christian school with a great reputation. Things started off smoothly enough for Mariah, but within just a few weeks, the panic attacks were back.
Mariah bottomed out in the late fall of her seventh grade year. Her mother, Kathleen, wrote, “It was the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever experienced, watching my child just try to slog through such misery. She was crying out to God. She was begging me for help. … It’s so hard to convey how severe this was. I’m not talking about a bratty kid crying and refusing to get out of the car. I’m talking about true hysterics, rocking, making guttural sounds, etc.”
Things were so bad that Kathleen and her husband drove Mariah to a local psychiatric hospital. They basically told Mariah that if she couldn’t gain control of her fears, they would have to hospitalize her. It wasn’t a threat; these Christian parents really didn’t know how to help their daughter. The drugs, therapy, and prayers didn’t seem to be working.
Mariah reluctantly agreed to give school another try. Kathleen remembers dropping her off and watching her frightened but determined seventh grader weeping as she disappeared through the school’s doors.
Kathleen wrote, “I got in my car and started sobbing, and then I prayed for her like I had done every other day. I was praying things like, ‘O God, please help Mariah. Please, please, please. God, I know you hear her crying out to you. Why won’t you help her? Please just help her put one foot in front of the other and make it through the day.’”
And then it happened. Kathleen had a breakthrough. As she sat in her car, praying for God to help Mariah survive the day, she clearly heard God say, “Is that really all you want from me?”
That’s a really good question, isn’t it? How many times have you gone to God in a moment of parental desperation and pleaded for mere survival? How often are we as Christian parents guilty of not asking for God’s best provision but simply His bare minimum? How quickly do we forget while in our foxhole praying that Jesus promised abundant life to His children?
Have you ever heard the Holy Spirit say, “Is that really what you want from me?” in response to your prayers?
Kathleen felt the gentle rebuke in the Spirit’s question and decided to go for broke. She wrote, “So I just unleashed. I said, ‘No, that’s not all I want! I want Mariah to be great, not good! I want Mariah to be blessed! I want everyone who knows her to know that Your hand is on her. I want everyone who meets my child to know that God has blessed her.’”
And that’s exactly what God did. Mariah didn’t just survive that day, she actually enjoyed it. She was great, not just good. And she’s been great just about every day since. Today Mariah is a happy teenager who is excelling in school. She has friends, dances on the drill team, makes good grades, and serves in her church. And she’s completely off the antidepressants.
Mariah is prevailing, not just surviving, because her mother obeyed the leading of God’s Spirit and dared to ask for something big from God.
Pinpoint praying versus no-point praying
How many times have you settled for the “Lord, just help my child to survive” kind of praying that Kathleen did? How often have you mumbled some weak, pathetic prayer in hopes that God would help you or your child just to get by? Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever thought about how ridiculously low we set the bar when it comes to praying for our kids?
One would think that we were dealing with the little man behind the curtain who pretends to be the great Wizard of Oz, instead of with the holy and creating God of the universe. Why do we frequently ask so little of God when it comes to our kids?
Perhaps you’ve prayed one of the following prayers:
- God, please keep Sally from getting pregnant.
- God, please help Jake to pass math.
- God, please help Timmy not to wet his pants today.
- God, help me and Joe not to argue today about his chores.
While there’s nothing really wrong with this type of praying, it doesn’t ask or require much of God. Do you hear the “Lord, just help us to get by” mind-set of those prayers? It’s as if the parent is approaching a God who is irritated and worn-out by the parent’s constant pestering—as if God might react as we parents do when we’re tired and irritable.
But God is not an irritable parent. He never grows weary of our requests to Him. And while there is nothing wrong with praying for little things, we should not settle for small answers when God has promised that all of His power is available to us when we ask. And when it comes to our kids—really, they’re His kids—we shouldn’t skimp. We need to pray with focus and not toss up weak and wimpy petitions to our holy God.
I’m talking about the difference between what I call pinpoint praying and no-point praying. We can’t afford to waste our time by praying no-point prayers for our kids. No-point prayers resemble the “God be with Bill” kind of praying that doesn’t ask anything of God. More specifically, no-point praying is:
- Too broad—No-point praying asks God to cure world hunger or save all the people on earth. Broad prayers sound good on the surface but rarely have any real courage or passion behind them.
- Too vague—This is the essence of the “God bless Joe” kinds of prayers. They’re fuzzy and have no real meaning. They don’t really ask anything tangible of God.
- Too safe—No-point prayers don’t require any faith. There’s no risk at all in praying them, because nothing that requires God to act is ever asked of Him.
No-point prayers are completely inadequate when it comes to our children. They’re too broad, vague, and faithless to be offered as real prayers for our kids. You and I know our children deserve better. God also commanded us to pray better than that. What he expects of us is pinpoint praying.
Pinpoint prayers, as opposed to no-point prayers, have clear purpose, direction, and focus. They’re the kind of prayers that honor God the most, and they’re the kind that you and I want to be praying for our children. Pinpoint prayers are:
- Biblical—Pinpoint prayers are deeply rooted in God’s Word. They have authority because they flow right out of what God has already told us He is willing to do. There’s no guesswork in pinpoint praying. As a parent, you just take the world’s greatest prayer script (the Bible) and use it as your guide for what and how you pray for your kids.
- Specific—There’s nothing vague about pinpoint prayers. They’re typically short, direct, and to the point. Consider Jesus’s petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. His requests for God’s name to be glorified and for God’s provision, protection, and forgiveness are all very specific and focused. There’s nothing broad or uncertain about them. Pinpoint praying requires you to think through what you want God to do, build the case for it biblically, and then say it in the most precise and deliberate way possible to God. No flowery language, no King James English, and no long or theologically loaded phrases are required with pinpoint prayers. Part of their power lies in their directness.
- Bold—Pinpoint prayers don’t mess around. They don’t dance around an issue, hoping that God will get the hint and come through with a miracle without us really having to ask for one. Pinpoint prayers walk right up to God’s throne and plead for His best, for His kingdom, and for His favor in our lives and the lives of our children. This is not weak-willed praying. Can you think of any area where boldness, courage, and faith are more appropriate than in prayers for your kids?
Prayer is the most significant form of communication that humans, specifically parents, can engage in. When a Christian talks to God, all the power of heaven is at play, and cultures, nations, and history lay in the balance. For parents, talking to our kids is critical; talking to God about them is even more so.
Ask God to equip you to believe and expect big things of Him in prayer.
Adapted excerpt from Pray Big for Your Child by Will Davis, Jr. Copyright © 2009 by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used with permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.
Let’s be honest, when our children leave the nest, fear and anxiety can set in for us as parents. Personally, I find that my fear is rooted in a lack of faith, and I know from Romans 10:17 that “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (NKJV). My fears dissipate when I spend time in the Word, and when I pray actual Bible verses for my adult children. I love the idea of praying Scripture for our children (or anyone, for that matter) because we know without a doubt that we are aligning our prayers with the will of God for them. Here are the six passages I come back to again and again as I pray for my adult children.
1. Ephesians 1:17-19
As a mother, I want to pray that the Lord would give my children the Spirit of wisdom and revelation of him, that the eyes of their hearts would be opened so that they will know and cherish the hope to which he has called them; the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people); and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in their lives, in accordance with the working of his mighty strength.
2. Colossians 1:9-12
I like this model of prayer from Paul! He prays specifically that those in the church at Colossae would be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Why does he pray this? So that they will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, please him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in their knowledge of him. He also prays that they would be strengthened with all power, for endurance, patience (with joy!). Finally, he prays that they would give thanks to the Lord, who was the one who qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints.
3. Philippians 4:19
Our kids will be needy, and as empty nesters, we can’t be there to meet their needs the way we could when they were younger. I want my kids to remember that my God will supply every need of theirs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
4. Micah 6:8
This is our family verse. We want our children – no matter what their age – to remember that the Lord has told us what is good and what he requires of us: to be just, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
5. Proverbs 4:23
This world is a challenging place to be, and I want my kids to guard their hearts diligently. Everything we do and say (Matt. 12:24) flows out of our hearts.
6. Hebrews 10:24
I want my kids to be leaders, pointing others to faith. So I pray that (through their words and their example) they would encourage others to love and good deeds.
I renewed my commitment to pray faithfully for my kids this year. What sparked that was when a friend of mine told me that since her kids had left home, her weapon of choice in their lives had become prayer. What she meant was that in the absence of her physical presence with her children (and thus the reduced ability to counsel and guide them), she had fully committed herself to supporting them through the power of prayer (Ephesians 6:18). I’ve embraced that and taken it to heart, finding great encouragement from the book, The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, by Stormie Omartian. Omartian packed this little book full of Scripture and prayers to pray right from the Word. It’s a great resource.
How do you pray for your adult children? Do you pray Scripture, like I do? What verses do you pray? I would love to know! Please share with me in the comments below.
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