Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And then Mark goes on to say “And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:14,16)
Out of the four gospel writers, this event is recorded in three of them. I love Mark’s perspective, though, as he is the only one who notes that Jesus took the children in his arms. Can you imagine what their mothers thought? Jesus, the Son of Man, the Messiah, hugging their children?!
Several years ago, one of my aunts encouraged me to pray daily FOR my children WITH my children.
I was already praying for them daily, but this idea was to bring them into my prayers. I thought it was a great idea and tried to incorporate this into our daily routine. At first it started small, usually a short prayer at the breakfast table. The kids loved it. And, like most things that kids love, they won’t let you forget about it and they want more. Since I’m one of those moms that is always rushing around trying to pack lunches at the last minute, while making coffee, applying mascara, and texting the carpool buddy that I’m running a few minutes late (do you know one of those moms!?), the kids would usually comment, once we were in the car, that I had forgotten to pray that morning. So, over time my hurried Lord-please- bless-my-children-today-amen-now-eat-your-cereal prayer began to morph into more meaningful prayer time.
As I would be frantically trying to make sure everyone was buckled and had their shoes on, Melody, my middle child and future missionary, would usually gently remind me, “Mom, I hope you don’t forget to pray for us. But, if you do, that’s Ok. I will forgive you.”
Really? Who can ignore that kind of a guilt trip?
So, as we were pulling out of the driveway, I would say, “Ok, well, let me pray for each of you.” And I would. Again, at first, it was general. I would pray that they would have fun at school and that it wouldn’t rain so they could play outside.
But, as time passed, and this became more and more an important part of our daily routine, our prayers got deeper. Our prayers became more specific. My children would share their requests with me. We prayed for certain friends that may be sick. We prayed for hard tests we were facing. We prayed for bullying to stop and we prayed how to respond to it while it was going on. And, each morning, as I would pray for each of them specifically, I would get a vision of Jesus, hugging my children.
This has been a part of our daily routine for more than two years now.
Praying out loud for my children is probably my favorite part of the day.
That and picking them back up from school and hearing how their prayers were answered. Through this, I’m pretty sure the Lord has changed me and my life more than my children.
Actively praying for my children has encouraged me to more enthusiastically study the Bible on how to pray and to pray about how to pray. I always thought prayer was just something we did. I was always a little confused whenever I was around someone who seemed to pray for effortlessly because praying is not something that comes naturally and easy for me. It is something that I currently struggle with and have struggled with. One of my prayers, in praying for my children, is that they would learn how to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As this has become part of our lifestyle, there are some guidelines I use to help our daily prayer time. Each family is different. What works for me may not work for you. One idea I like but haven’t done is to journal our family prayers. Writing down prayers each day and then noting when and how they are answered. I really can’t journal to save my life, but I love this idea. My method is a little more in line with my Type A personality.
Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep babbling on like the pagans…your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8) Jesus knows what your children are facing that day. It’s ok to keep it short and sweet. Children don’t have a long attention span anyway. I ask them for any requests (they expect this now, and usually have requests ready) and then I pray for each of them, individually. It takes us 12 minutes to get to school and our prayer time takes about half that.
You don’t have to use a lot of words, but you can be specific. If there is something your child is particularly concerned about, pray about it specifically. Many times my prayer has been along the lines of, “Lord, Jack has a hard time remembering how to spell the word ‘normalcy’. Please help him with that on his test today.” Jesus knows the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30) so it only makes sense that he would care even about the supposed little things!
Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will open to you. “ (Matthew 7:7) Each of these three steps builds upon a greater sense of urgency. First you ask, then seek, to actively try and find it, and then to knock. Knocking over and over implies knowing someone is there and wanting an answer. The days that our prayers are answered quickly, such as when Jack did remember how to spell ‘normalcy’ and got a 100 on his test, are wonderful, however, it’s also important to learn to continually seek Jesus in hard times too. Some of you know my story on my son being bullied. That required persistent prayer. Daily prayer, specific prayer, for months. I am sure many of you know that feeling. Praying the same prayer again and again, begging the Lord for an answer. Begging for resolution or grace or peace. Teach that to your children. The day the Lord resolved that situation for us, and we experienced such an answer to prayer, well, let me just say Jack and I both felt a joy way beyond the joy we felt when he spelled ‘normalcy’ correctly.
Be joyful and praise Jesus when our prayers are answered and even when they aren’t. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17 tells us to be thankful in all circumstances. Psalm 150:2 says “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.” When your child jumps in the car and shares an answer prayer, remember to praise and thank the Lord for his provisions.
Do you pray for your children? What does your family do to incorporate prayer into your daily life?