The past year has tested and stretched many of our relationships, including those with our parents. Navigating parental relationships under normal circumstances can already be a challenge, but trying to do so against the backdrop of a global pandemic and contentious election cycle hasn’t made it any easier.
As I’ve talked with other grown children, I’ve noticed one particular phrase popping up with more frequency.
“I love my parents, but the physical distance between us has been hard on our relationship.”
“I love my parents, but I don’t know how to talk to them when we disagree on so much.”
“I love my parents, but I’m weary and just don’t have the energy to give to our relationship right now.”
“I love my parents, but”—maybe you’ve said it too.
Opportunity to Pray
I had such a moment in my early 20s: “I love my parents, but I don’t know how to honor them in light of their recent divorce.” Since then, God has taught me that it’s possible to love and honor my parents because Christ first loved me (1 John 4:19).
He’s accomplished much of my heart change through the discipline of prayer. I’ve seen firsthand how God can use prayer to soften our hearts toward our parents and help us see them through his eyes, especially when we use his Word as our guide.
As we head into a season set apart for celebrating our mothers and fathers, I propose that we turn our “I love my parents, but” feelings over to the Lord. Let’s take this opportunity to pray for our hearts toward our parents—to come before God, admit our weakness, and ask him to help us love them better.
Let’s turn our ‘I love my parents, but’ feelings over to the Lord.
Even if your parents’ behavior means you can no longer safely maintain a close relationship with them, you can still intercede for them before God. Prayer is a safe first step of obedience, allowing you to honor your parents from a distance.
Here are five prompts based in Romans 12 that will help us offer rich, intentional prayers for our parents, be they biological or adoptive, involved or inattentive, loving or cold, frail or fit, believers or unbelievers. Whatever their situation or posture toward us, if we want to love them well, we need to pray.
Five Things to Pray
God, we want to love our parents well. Supply the grace we need to:
“Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom. 12:10).
In the Old Testament, the word “honor” means to “give weight.” Ask God to help you honor your parents by giving them the proper weight in your heart and life. Pray that you would reflect our merciful Savior, who honored us by seating us in the heavenly places with Christ, despite our sinful state (Eph. 2:5–6).
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
You’re in a position to be one of your parents’ strongest prayer advocates. Ask God to help you love your parents by continuing to intercede for them before the throne of grace. In what particular areas do your parents need your faithful prayer? Bring those requests before God now, and praise him for hearing you.
“Practice hospitality” (Rom. 12:13).
Thank God for welcoming you into his family and inviting you to sit at his table. Ask him to show you ways in which you can welcome your parents into your home and life. Pray that you would be willing to sacrifice your time, resources, and comfort out of love for God and your parents.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom. 12:14).
Whether you have a great relationship with your parents or a troubled one, pray God’s blessing upon them. Ask the Lord to make his face shine upon them and to grant them grace and peace. Thank God for your parents—and for the other parental figures in your life—recalling specific ways God has used this generation to minister to you.
5. Live at peace
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).
As Christians, we’re called to follow Christ’s example by living at peace with everyone—including family—as far as it depends on us. We don’t have to muster up peace in our own strength. The Prince of Peace equips us to make peace with others. Ask him to grant you peace today.
Power of Prayer
The Bible tells us that “the prayers of a righteous person have great power” (James 5:16)—including the power to help us love our parents well. As we humbly come to God with our requests, he will be faithful to give us all that we need to honor, welcome, bless, pray for, and live at peace with them.
The Lord intends blessing for those who devote themselves to prayer and seek to love and honor their mothers and fathers. May you and your family reap these blessings as you do what’s pleasing in his sight.