Our daughter, Summer, brought him home from college one weekend. They watched March Madness basketball, played video games (in a competitive manner, because that’s my girl), and laughed a good deal. Later that week, we received a thank you note from this young man. And everyone knows that a thoughtfully written thank you note earns huge points with a future mom-in-law. Every. Time.
I had been praying for the potential spouses of my son and daughter. That weekend, I was pretty sure I’d met my son-in-law-to-be, Joshua. How fun to bump into an answer to your prayers—in person.
Making intercessory prayers for our children is a privilege. It’s a tool from God to assist us in the high calling of rearing our children, which takes tremendous amounts of grit and grace.
Pray for Adult Role Models in Your Child’s Life
When Summer was a freshman in high school, she talked about a woman on staff who was impacting her life. I began praying for this woman and for other godly adults to influence our son and daughter.
“Father, please bring role models into their lives who will affirm the important lessons we’ve tried to instill in them. When they’re tempted to discount our instructions because we’re just ‘the parents,’ let their hearts be open to receive godly instruction from these other adults.”
Pray for Your Child’s Protection and Wisdom
Summer was home one weekend from college when our 16-year-old son, Jeremy, asked for the keys to the family vehicle. He and a couple of friends wanted to take in a movie in the next town—larger than our tiny village, but several miles away.
And of course I’m thinking, Um, no … we won’t be handing off the car keys so you and your friends can pump up the music while driving on a mountain freeway just because you’re bored. And besides, your sister’s home from college.
But my wise husband—who was once a teenage boy and knew the joyful freedom of having access to a vehicle for a few hours—handed our son the car keys, along with some firm instructions. My jaw dropped. But instead of contradicting my husband’s decision, I whispered a prayer I’d been repeating since our children started stretching their wings and leaving our nest for periods of time.
“Lord Jesus, build a hedge of protection around them. Don’t let any evil come near them. Keep them from foolhardy and dangerous choices because it sounds brave, or fun, or because they’ve been dared. Knock some wisdom into their heads on a daily basis.”
Pray for Friendships and Peer Influence in Your Child’s Life
We prayed one young man out of our daughter’s life in high school. He was an angry teenager and wasn’t always kind to Summer, which was scary to us. They broke up and got back together a number of times. When they were apart, Summer could see clearly why he wasn’t good boyfriend material. But when they got back together, she was blinded.
When she asked if he could come to dinner or ride with us home from an out-of-town basketball game, we knew if we excluded him too frequently it could drive her away. And so we included this boy from time to time, all the while praying that God would remove him from our daughter’s life. And God honored that prayer.
Early on, we began praying: “Dear Father, will you please give our children wisdom in choosing their friends. May they know what qualities are important in a romantic relationship and not settle for anything less. May they stand strong and stubbornly true to what they’ve been taught from your Word. May they not give in to negative peer pressure, but instead apply positive influence on their peers.”
Making intercessory prayers for our children is a privilege. It’s a tool from God to assist us in the high calling of rearing our children.
Pray for Your Child’s Future Marriage and Family
I looked forward to meeting the young woman and young man I prayed for who would someday become our daughter- and son-in-law. Sure enough, Josh called my husband to ask for Summer’s hand in marriage. My husband answered with an exaggerated sigh, “How much is this going to cost us?” (Pretty sure Josh was perspiring on the other end of the call.)
Summer and Josh married during Christmas break his junior year while earning a pastoral degree. Summer is now a pastor’s wife and crazy mom to six kids—er, I mean mom to six crazy kids—three biological children and three adopted boys from Uganda.
Jeremy knew he wanted to marry his high school sweetheart, Denise. We loved Denise, and counseled him to prepare for a career or ministry and bring her to that. But he couldn’t wait. Denise was in an unhappy situation and the gallantry in him wanted to rescue her. They were both 18 years old when they eloped.
But they persevered through the challenges of starting out so young and with so little. They spent some months in Mexico ministering to the poorest of the poor, and eventually established their own business.
Prayers for our children and future children-in-law, from the time they were newborns, included these words: “Father, prepare them for marriage. May the young men be strong and gentle leaders, each laying down his life for his wife. May the young women respect their husbands, always building them up and never tearing them down. Together, may they be a powerful team in loving and serving people.”
From an early age, we talked with our kids about how God created them uniquely—with a specific set of gifts and abilities and passions—and placed them in our home. On purpose. With purpose in mind. We encouraged them to ask God to make it clear to them, in His timing, what they were called to do. “You can be anything God wants you to be,” was spoken frequently in our home.
Jeremy had an exceptional gift of photography. He put in several hours of work one summer in exchange for a used developer, and we converted the backyard shed into a darkroom. He shot senior portrait packages for his high school classmates. And, if a picture paints a thousand words, then he shot thousands of words depicting the marketplaces, matadors and bulls, and homes built on garbage heaps in Mexico.
“How can I use photography in ministry and as a career?” he wanted to know. We talked about the options. Turns out, he and Denise shot photos on the side—weddings, family portraits, magazine ads—until they could afford to go full-time with photography and eventually into children’s talent scouting, traveling across the country and around the world with their business.
Years earlier, we began praying: “Lord Jesus, may they know deeply within their hearts that they have a destiny unique to them. May they lean in close to you and listen for your quiet voice leading them. May they walk through the doors you open, and when they come to a closed door, give them wisdom to know whether to keep on walking … or stop and kick it down.”
Being a Praying Parent Makes the Biggest Impact
God wants good things for our kids (read: His kids). He wants them to follow His ways, to choose their friends and influencers wisely, to recognize that they were created on purpose and with purpose. And He wants them to make wise decisions that will bring them into that place of their calling.
“You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent,” wrote pastor and author Mark Batterson. “Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent. There is nothing you can do that will have a higher return on investment.”
Our intercessory prayers are an act of partnering with God for His will to be accomplished in the lives of these precious little people who have been entrusted to us. Prayers for our children’s well-being, their relationships, and careers and ministries—this is a powerful thing.
“You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.” -Mark Batterson
Want more helpful parenting advice? Listen to this podcast episode of This Grit and Grace Life: 5 Ways to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Kids – 158