In Chapter 20 of The Disciple-Making Parent I have a whole chapter on praying for our children. Prayer is both a duty (as in difficult work) and a delight. The Lord gives us access to his throne room based on the blood of Jesus. Yet often we find it difficult to pray for our children.
Here are seven suggested ways to pray for your children and for your family.
1. Pray with thanksgiving. Paul began his letters with giving thanks. Even when writing the problem-filled church of Corinth, he started with thanking God for them.
Thanksgiving has a way of altering our perspective. Make sure you are spending time thanking the Lord for your children, and yes, that even includes the problems you are facing. Ask the Lord to fill you with thanksgiving!
2. Pray for yourself, “Lord, show me my sin.” Often we can clearly see our children’s sin. But often we cannot see our own. Children are sanctification machines meant to help us grow in holiness.
What your children need is your holiness. We can pray this humbling prayer because we are accepted in Christ and want to grow. The Lord will answer this prayer every time!
3. Pray for wisdom in the decisions both of you will face. As parents we face a myriad of decisions. Often we are making the large decisions on the fly. How much better to take a little time and actually pray about those bigger items.
As you help lead your family in discipleship, children will be blessed by our example and by our leadership as we say, “We need to stop and ask the Lord for wisdom about this decision. I will get back to you in a few days.” Of course, we can encourage our teen children to practice this as well.
4. Pray for secret things to be brought to light. This is a scary prayer. But it is much better for things to come out while our children are still in our home than later.
In a non-manipulative way, tell your children you are praying this way. But be ready. Because the Lord will answer this prayer, and now we have some shepherding to do.
5. Pray Jesus’ high priestly prayer. On his final night, Jesus interceded for his disciples (John 17). Specifically, he prayed that they would be protected from the evil one, sanctified by the truth of the word, and that they would be unified (John 17).
Those are great things to ask for your family. Ask the Lord that you and your children would be protected from the evil one, that you would be more like Jesus by the power of the word, and that you would be a unified family.
6. Pray as they ask you to pray. For our older children, a great question is, “What would you like me to pray for you?” And then be sure to follow through! You could ask them to pray for you also.
7. Pray they would see their need of Christ. The most foundational need our children have is the gospel. We can hold out the gospel but they must see their need. So we ask the Holy Spirit to work in their heart so that they would cry out to him.
Our Lord offers us a profound privilege in prayer. As we’re raising children, let’s go before the throne of grace.(Heb 4:15-16).