Parents, we get to pray—starting with thanksgiving. We can loudly thank God for our children, at home and in the church. Let’s start there and never end; let’s stand up and sing thanksgiving through the years of parenting.
Parents have received a stunning gift. We sometimes act like we decide to acquire this gift, rather than receive it from our Maker. We forget: “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecc. 11:5).
Let’s stand up and sing thanksgiving through the years of parenting.
First and foremost, let’s thank the Creator God for a new human life. So many would like to receive this gift. If you’ve lost it or you long for it, you know. Many voices around us speak loudly about the trouble of dealing with this gift—as if that were the first or the main thing to be said.
I lost two babies four months along in two different pregnancies. I write that because so many of you readers will know that grief, and more. It’s a grief that washes your eyes and puts everything else in perspective.
A child is perhaps the greatest earthly gift, mirroring the greatest eternal gift: new life in Christ. What is a child? A child is “a heritage from the Lord” (Ps. 127:3), given to us that we might know and pass on the treasures of his name, generation by generation. Let’s fill our prayers, to the end, with thanksgiving for this gift he knits together with his own hand and then in his providence gives to us.
Parents, we get to pray—to our Father. How amazing to think that Christian parents (along with the family of believers) can keep reaching out in prayer to God our Father, who has shown his love to us in his own Son—and who gives us his Holy Spirit to help us pray, according to his Word.
When one of our sons was diagnosed with an irregularity in his heart, my husband and I immediately called a friend who is a pediatric cardiologist. He took our call without delay, and he told us just what we needed to know. We were so privileged to have full access to this doctor friend.
In Christ, we believers have open and eternal access to our heavenly Father, who understands all about parenting—who in fact through human parenting lets us glimpse and even share his Father heart of love. Amazing generosity. Amazing grace.
In Christ, we believers have open and eternal access to our heavenly Father, who understands all about parenting.
Parents, we get to pray—according to the Word. We don’t have to figure out parenting ourselves. We have Spirit-breathed words from our Father who knows all about the perfect joy of loving his Son, the deepest pain of being torn apart from his Son, and the certainty of eternal life with his Son and family gathered all together. He gives us the whole story, in words—words that can fill our prayers.
We can pray that we would speak and live the Scriptures before our children, in all our comings and goings. We can pray that our children, and the children of the church, would be led by the Spirit to open their hearts to these words and know this Father, through his Son the Word made flesh.
Many young parents ask for advice about creative family devotions. As I look back over our raising three sons, I think we probably could have been more creative—as my parents certainly could have been. But I am grateful for the faithful essentials, through the generations: Read the Word regularly as a family. Read it out loud, talk about it a bit together, and be sure to pray it.
If we really believe that the Bible is God’s living and active Word—sharp enough to pierce hearts, tell truth, and change lives—then it must be one of our most urgent prayers that we would faithfully communicate this Word to our children.
Body of Christ
Parents, we get to pray—with the body of Christ. We are not meant to parent without community. The members of a church congregation are called to help one another raise up the next generations to know and serve the Lord; we often stand up and vow to do so. This involves actively praying for each other’s children, from infancy into youth and adulthood—when we too often forget.
When I think back on our three sons’ early teen years, the picture that comes to mind is of those gangly, growing bodies surrounded by bigger bodies of others in the church: youth leaders and teachers; godly young men who played soccer and basketball with them; other parents who took time to talk with them, and who regularly told us they were praying for them. In the teen years, we need to call up the troops. The army is the church.
I’ve recently spoken with several parents who are praying earnestly for the salvation of their grown children, who either never professed faith or turned away as they grew. Praying for grown children, so often invisible in church congregations, is a labor of love we can share with parents. It means we in the church family have to ask. It means we have to keep up.
Parents, we get to pray—with outward-reaching hearts. Speaking of parents who yearn and pray for the salvation of grown children, I’ve noticed something about many of them. They often have evangelistic hearts in general—not just for their own. They have grasped the gospel urgency of these last days, first with a pang at home but then spreading out far and wide. They are praying not just for their own but for other people’s children. For their neighbors. For the mission work in nearby urban areas and across the globe.
If the church works as it should, the crisscrossed networks of prayer for all the children in the family of God will be strong and beautiful. One of our sons and his wife and daughter live in Indonesia. I know, and love to know, that Christians in the body of Christ there are watching over them in prayer, with awareness of details of their daily lives that I do not have. In our church here in the United States we have young families far from their parents, or without parents, or estranged from their parents—and we get to hold them and their children up in prayer, regularly.
Praying for our children may strike some, at first, as a private and insular kind of activity. It’s actually an outward-focused activity, as we get to do it together in the worldwide, growing family of God.
Prayer is actually an outward-focused activity as we get to do it together in the worldwide, growing family of God.
Parents, we get to pray—with joy. I don’t mean that we will not often labor in prayers of lament, prayers of pain for our children’s suffering, prayers of grief in relation to our children. But the more I listen to the prayers of Scripture, the more I hear that they are grounded in thanksgiving, and they reach out to the Lord with the kind of joy that nothing can take away.
Our identity as parents is not our eternal identity. We believers live as children of God, through the salvation provided in his Son. This is what we pray for all our fellow human beings, including our children: that they would join the family for which we were created, serving the Father who loves us perfectly. The joy of being in that family is the ultimate joy. Griefs will fade. The joy of the Lord—joy in the Lord—will last forever.
I write now as a parent of three married sons, and eight-going-on-nine grandchildren. There is much to pray for, as we peer into the next generations finding their way along. They need our prayers a lot more than they need our words.
In the end, they need the Lord, and we get to release them to him, with joy in his good and powerful hand. They are not ours. They were made by God himself. He is in charge of them, and he runs his family perfectly. We can trust our heavenly Father fully.
Rejoice in the Lord, parents who know him. We get to give our children into his hands, at every stage. We get to pray, with joy.