I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Today, I interview Chelsea Stanley about her new book, 5 Things to Pray for Your Parents. It releases this week on May 1st, just in time for Mother’s Day!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
God has called me his child, and so I am! I grew up in a Christian home and came to know Christ as my Savior at a very young age.
I’m also a child to earthly parents. My mom and dad divorced when I was in my early 20s, and I struggled to know how to honor them in light of all that had occurred. God graciously led me to a church where I learned that the gospel—the good news that Jesus died for our sins—wasn’t just for my initial salvation. It applied to every area of my life, including my relationship with my parents. For the first time, I began to see how I could love and honor my parents because Christ had first loved and honored me.
I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Dan, for 11 years, and we are parents to three wild and wonderful little boys (plus a little one on the way). Our family attends Crossway Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin where I serve alongside the women’s ministry teaching team.
In addition to teaching, I love to proclaim God’s marvelous works through writing. In my pockets of free time, I write for online publications like Desiring God, Risen Motherhood, and The Gospel Coalition.
When did you first start writing? What do you enjoy about it?
My first writing memory dates back to second grade when I composed a school song for the Spring Bluff Bobcats. I still remember the words, but I’ll spare you the tune!
Shortly after graduating from college, I started a blog called Daughter Redeemed where I processed through what God was teaching me through marriage, my parents’ divorce, and life. A few years later, a gal from our church approached me and asked if I’d be interested in writing and editing some articles for her business—a website for moms. I wrote about everything from milk allergies to miscarriage. It was a great gig, but after awhile, we both started to notice that I cared more about giving moms gospel encouragement than about giving them potty training tips. With her help, I decided to submit a few articles to Christian online publications, and that’s where I’ve been focusing my creative energy ever since.
I especially enjoy writing for adult children and helping them learn how to love and honor their parents well. It’s always rewarding (and humbling!) to hear how God has used something I’ve written to spur on fellow believers towards obedience.
Is writing ever difficult for you? How so?
I think the hardest part about writing on the topic of honoring our parents is making sure I’m honoring my own parents with my words and tone. I’ve grown a lot in this area—learning how to share parts of my own story without sharing too much of theirs. One of the reasons I wanted to write this book in particular was because it allows me to minister to adult children in light of my own experience while still maintaining a degree of privacy out of respect for my parents.
What led you to write 5 Things to Pray for Your Parents?
Like I mentioned earlier, God taught me a lot about honoring my parents while I processed their divorce. He accomplished much of my heart change through the discipline of prayer. As I prayed for my parents using Scripture as my guide, God trained my heart to align with his and helped me to see my parents through his eyes and not my own. I’ve experienced the power of praying for my parents on a personal level and want to help other adult children experience it too. I believe God has so much goodness for us and our parents if we humble ourselves and pray.
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
My hope is that this book will help readers to pray rich, intentional prayers for their parents using Scripture as their guide.
As Christians, God commands us to be devoted to prayer and to honor our parents. When we honor our parents by including them in our prayers, we obey both commands which is doubly pleasing to God.
The command to honor our parents also comes with a beautiful promise: “that it may go well with you” (Eph. 6:3). My prayer is that readers will reap this blessing as they come before God with prayers that change things for an older generation.
How has writing this book made you think or act differently about your topic?
Writing this book gave me more compassion, understanding, and respect for my elders. Before I started writing, I surveyed several parents of adult children and asked them what they would want their grown kids to pray about. The most repeated prayer requests included growing in wisdom, finding joy in the midst of aging, caring for older parents, fighting against loneliness, finding purpose in retirement, reconciling with their kids or other family members, and finishing the race well. Reading through their responses made me realize that our parents are facing big, hard things and really do need us to pray for them!
Also, there’s a section in the book for adult children to pray for their own hearts towards their parents. Writing those prompts helped me see some of my blind spots and led me to repentance. The prayers of thanksgiving and praise also stirred my affections for my own parents and for my Heavenly Father.
For a sneak peek, here are two prompts to help you pray for your parents and your own heart towards them:
Pray that God would satisfy their souls.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love” (Ps. 90:14).
The world offers our parents a smorgasbord of goodies that promise to satisfy them. They’re told that this cruise, this magic pill, this retirement village will make them happy, but the Bible says that true satisfaction comes from God. Pray that your parents would be satisfied in him and that they would know his unfailing love day by day.
Ask God to help you be patient.
“Love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4).
Sometimes it’s hard to be patient with your parents. Maybe they’re forgetful or slow-moving. Perhaps they hold to different political beliefs or parenting philosophies. If you’ve been impatient with your parents, turn away from your sin and turn toward your Father who is endlessly patient with you. Ask him to help you joyfully bear with your parents, even when it’s hard.
Here are some endorsements:
“I grew up knowing that my parents prayed for me every day, but it took me a long time to realize I could (and should) pray for them too. This book is a wonderful guide to help me see how to do that in a way that is rooted in Scripture and honoring to them.”
— Barnabas Piper, author, Hoping for Happiness
“Mining the riches of Scripture, Stanley guides us to intercede for our moms’ and dads’ greatest needs and to consider our own duty to love and honor them. As you seek to glorify God as the son or daughter he’s called you to be, this book will be an excellent resource.”
— Megan Hill, Editor, The Gospel Coalition, author, A Place to Belong: Learning to Love the Local Church
“Scripture-saturated, accessible, soul-stirring, and convicting. I recommend this practical aid to young and old as a thoughtful encouragement in a duty we too easily neglect: praying for our parents. Whether you’re on good terms or painful, whether they’re believers (yet) or not, spending time praying for them through this guide will warm affections, encourage repentance, and implore God to do what only he can.”
— Greg Morse, staff writer, DesiringGod.org
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
You’d probably find me walking with my boys beside our neighborhood pond and looking for frogs. Watching them delight in God’s creation is one of my greatest joys as a mom.
Chelsea Stanley is the author of 5 Things to Pray for Your Parents (The Good Book Company, May 2021). She is a wife, a mother, and a member of Crossway Community Church in Bristol, Wisconsin where she serves alongside the women’s ministry teaching team. Connect with her at www.chelseakstanley.com.