From the moment I held my newborn baby in my arms for the first time, I understood my complete dependence on the Lord in new ways. Becoming a mother awakened me to my own inadequacy—there was so much I couldn’t control, so much I couldn’t do, but this little baby depended on me to take care of her. So, I prayed and asked God for help. It became a moment by moment conversation and I gained a new understanding of what it was to pray without ceasing:
Lord, please help her be able to nurse.
Lord, help me understand why she’s crying.
Lord, please help her to fall asleep.
Lord, help her fever to go down.
Lord, give me wisdom.
Lord, help me.
As my children have grown, I’ve continued to pray for the daily circumstances of their lives: friendships, sports, health, test scores. And, these are good things to pray for our children—the Lord invites us to cast all our cares on him.
However, as I’ve read and studied Paul’s prayers for those he loved, I’ve also realized the fundamental importance of praying for my children’s spiritual needs. Some days, in the busyness of living, these are forgotten. Yet, my children’s greatest need is not temporary happiness, but increasing holiness. Holiness and happiness are not in opposition to one another, but are integrally linked. Holiness leads to true happiness: the eternal joy of a soul rooted in Christ. I’m praying for my child’s best and highest good when I ask God to make them holy.
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians has helped guide my prayers for their holiness in four ways.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Phil. 1:9-11)
We rightly desire good behavior in our children. (Please stop throwing your Cheerios on the floor and hitting your sister!) However, our ultimate goal is more than outward obedience, we want inward affection for God. Just like Paul, we can pray our children’s love for the Lord would abound more and more with each passing year. Only God can give them new hearts that beat with deep affection and delight for Jesus. May our children love the Lord with all their heart.
Every day our children are learning. They learn to tie their shoes, to count to ten, to put their plate in the dishwasher and one day, they’ll learn to drive a car (this will provide a new opportunity to pray without ceasing). They’re also learning about God. Pray that the Bible stories they learn, the Scripture they memorize, and the sermons they hear would lay a strong foundation of knowledge that would provide a spiritual lens through which they understand the world. May our children love the Lord with all their mind.
Today your child may be struggling to decide which lunch box to choose, but one day they’ll be making choices that shape the course of their lives. They’ll need discernment to know what friends to choose, which job to pursue, and who to marry. Their ability to make wise choices begins with a right reverence of the Lord. Pray that your child will be able to discern what is good and seek the Lord for wisdom. May our children love the Lord with all their soul.
We often think of success in terms of money, fame, or academic excellence. However, God’s goal for our children is something more, something better, something eternal: a harvest of righteousness. It’s not something they can attain on their own (or something we can force). It’s the fruit of a heart that seeks the Lord. We often attempt to produce righteousness outside of relationship, but it’s only by the Spirit’s power that our children can bloom into people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So, we pray, asking the Gardner of their soul to produce a plentiful harvest. May our children love the Lord with all their strength.
We have so many hopes for our children. We want them to be healthy and happy and for circumstances to go well. However, more than perfect health or circumstances, our children need the Lord. Teach them his Word, teach them to pray, and, most of all, ask the Lord to be at work in their hearts, doing immeasurably more than we can even imagine.
May our children love the Lord with all their heart.May our children love the Lord with all their mind.
May our children love the Lord with all their soul.
May our children love the Lord with all their strength.
Note: This excerpt originally ran on Risen Motherhood.