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 reward. Ps. 127:1-3 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, we are so thankful you are the dreamer, planner, bankroller, and builder of everything that last—including the lives of our kids and grandkids. Children are your gracious gift to us; not our science project to perfect, a horse to break in, a new sport to master, or a means of personal validation.

Continue to expose and free us from the faith-less, grace-less, law-heavy ways we parent, Father. Free us from over-stressing our kids and under-believing the gospel.

Forgive us for being more anxious than loving—more likely to nag and correct without ceasing, than pray and trust you without ceasing. We put unfair pressure on our children when we parent more by fear, threat, and pride; and less by faith, prayer, and grace.

Only your Spirit can make the gospel beautiful and believable to anybody, including our offspring. Only you can give anyone a new heart, and you joyfully do so. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you.” Show us what this looks like, Father.

How arrogant to assume our “good parenting” accounts for the best of what we see in our children. And what a hellish lie to assume our imperfect parenting is the sole explanation for the poor choices our kids make.

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 repentance when we fail them. Keep teaching us how 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.