Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a rewardPs. 127:1-3 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, yet again we turn to you as the architect, bank, and builder of everything that matters and lasts, including the lives of our kids and grandkids. Thank you for reminding us, in this great Scripture, that our children are your gift, not our project.

     Over the years, you’ve had to use a gospel wrecking-ball on my parenting style, in order to build something more lasting and beautiful. That process continues, even as a parent of adult kids. But when I’ve been overbearing or under-believing, too disengaged or too enmeshed, full of fear or lacking in faith, you’ve remained merciful and mighty.

     Continue to rescue us from relational “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can make the gospel beautiful and believable to our kids. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worth.

     It’s the height of arrogance to think our “good parenting” accounts for the best of what we see in the lives of our children; and it’s a lie from hell to assume our imperfect parenting is the only reason our kids make poor choices in life. Free us, Father, free us, and forgive us. Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel, when we parent more by fear and pride than by your love and grace.

     Since our kids are your inheritance, Father, teach us how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners; as hopeful encouragers, not as self-appointed sheriffs. Grant us quick repentances when we fail them, and multiple kindnesses and words of life for them. Father, we want to love and serve our children, “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). So very Amen we pray in Jesus’ faithful and powerful name.