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The importance of praying for and with your child with special needs

When my son James was born in 2007, I searched Scriptures for just the right verse to pray over his life. As I would rock and feed him at 2 a.m., I wanted to whisper a verse that he would remember as he grew—one that would be true for him when he was two, 12, and 22. After reading and praying, I finally picked a verse.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52 ESV). 

That is exactly what I wanted for him—to grow smarter and stronger, and for God and others to show him favor. In those early days, I couldn’t have predicted how important that verse would be for his life. 

In 2010, he was diagnosed with autism. It seemed as if my prayer wasn’t being answered. He wasn’t growing smarter or stronger. He was losing communication skills, and he was well below average for weight and height. Others weren’t showing him favor either. He was excluded from friends’ birthday parties and kept to himself around his peers. And, honestly, I wasn’t sure that God was showing us favor either. 

We struggled with our new role as special-needs parents—juggling doctors, therapies, and restrictive diets. We had to learn a new language with acronyms like ASD (autism spectrum disorder), SPD (sensory processing disorder), and GF/CF (gluten-free / casein-free). I continued to pray, “God, I’m begging you to help him to grow smarter and stronger. Show him favor. Cause others to include him, be patient with him, and love him.” I prayed this night after night, again and again.

Ten years later, I can see my prayer being answered. He is learning. He is growing. Overall people are patient with him and kind. God has had favor on him and our family. And praying that verse over James for all these years has changed me as well. It has reminded me how much God loves James and how he has ordained this life for our good and for our growth in godliness. 

The importance of prayer 

Praying for and with our children with special needs is incredibly important. We won’t know this side of heaven what a difference our prayers have made in their lives, but I do know that praying this verse over James has brought me hope, even on our hardest days. 

You may want to pick one verse to pray over and over again as I did back in 2007. Or you may find many verses that speak to your situation and pray those over your son or daughter. If your child is able, you can include them in the prayer time. My son James has limited verbal ability, but he does pray with me each evening, and I know his prayers bring God joy. 

Here are some verses you may want to use to pray for your child today:

  • “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:13–14).
  • “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
  • “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9–10).
  • “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,  so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:11)

I hope the practice of praying Scripture for your children with special needs encourages and strengthens you as it has done for me. God’s Word is living and active (Heb. 4:12), and his power has everything we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3). We can invite the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us as we love our children by praying for them. Join me today in lifting up our children to their Father who created them with a purpose and who loves them.

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