Saturday, September 26, 2009

Praying for Your Children

There is something very powerful and faith building when your children have been enlightened. As a parent you invest so much into your children that even when you receive just a nugget of your investment bringing something forth, it gives you hope and increased faith.

It can be easy to get discouraged when as a parent you are pouring and pouring into your children’s’ lives but nothing seems to be coming of it. You wonder if your prayers are bouncing off the walls of heaven. You wonder if your example has been for nothing. There are seasons as a parent when you may go through times of hopelessness. Your children may be making choices that grieve you. Your children may have lost that passion and fire for God. Your children may be on the fence and you are so fearful that one wrong move and they will end up on the wrong side.

Recently I began something new. Being a writer one of my favorite things to do is journal. I went out and bought three nice journals for each of my children. I began to write daily prayers in them. One day I would pray for their health, another day for their friendships and then another day I might pray for a specific situation they are going through. What I like about this method of prayer for my children is that I can cover so many different things. They are also written in ink, permanent memories of the things that I have brought before God so that I can look back and see how God faithfully answered those prayers.

I seem to be going through a season of answered prayer—not that God doesn’t answer our prayers mind you, but there just seems to be this immediate moving of mountains lately that have really boosted my faith. It has also been an opportunity to show me that God cares not just about the spiritual things in our children’s lives but even the everyday things we may take for granted.

For instance, my oldest son has always struggled to get good grades. Not because he doesn’t understand the material. In fact, it has consistently been that he gets A’s and B’s on his tests but he fails to turn in work. He just doesn’t see the importance of getting his work done. I had more control over that in his earlier years of school; however, now that he is in high school, I have a lot less control.

I have never been able to understand how he could let the potential final grade of an A or B drop to a C or D, simply because he didn’t feel like taking the time to turn in an assignment. So this has been a huge frustration for me as a parent. How do you motivate a child who doesn’t care? We have tried everything—punishments and rewards but the truth was that it needed to come from within. He needed to make the decision that turning in his work is important.

So this summer in his prayer journal, I began to ask for God to change his heart with regard to this. When school started I didn’t lecture him. In fact only one time did I say anything to him about his grades and that was something along the lines of “You have a fresh start this year.” I left it all to God. I didn’t nag or scold him. Now I’m seeing the fruit of my prayers get answered. He is striving for A’s in all his classes and is doing that…if not, at least getting B’s. He suddenly cares about turning his work in. You see, it wasn’t me lecturing him. It wasn’t me warning him. It was God being allowed to move because I moved out of the way!

Here is another example. Throughout the time we were fostering the two little ones, my daughter had grew to really resent the situation at times. She couldn’t see the good in what we were doing…she was too wrapped up in judging the mom, seeing the negative side of things and how our family had to give up so much. I knew it was selfishness oozing out of her soul but she didn’t it. So again, in her prayer journal I began to ask God to change her heart. I stopped trying to convince her that what we were doing was the right thing because I knew she had to come to that conclusion on her own.

It wasn’t until last Wednesday, after all these months of being in the situation, that she was enlightened. Not only has the children’s mother begun to have a relationship with the Lord and faithfully coming to church but she brought her friend with last Wednesday who has four daughters. Her friend is living in a battered woman’s shelter and the whole story is a very sad one. We are now able to be an example and an influence to yet another family.

Well after I shared with my family all that God was doing, my daughter made the comment that maybe this was why we had become a foster family and how God wanted to save their mom and now her friend. Do you think I didn’t try to express this to my daughter through the course of our journey? But she couldn’t hear it; she couldn’t receive it because her heart was closed off to the idea. God had moved in her heart and opened it up to the truth.

Her whole attitude toward the mom, the situation and the little ones has completely changed. She is seeing God work and I know this will be a huge impact on her life forever.

Finally, I have to share a story about my youngest son. I’m not sure what my husband and I were thinking when we named him Jacob but let’s just say he has lived up to the reputation of that name. Don’t get me wrong…he is not a bad kid. But he is definitely the one child of ours that is more drawn to do the wrong thing. He is the child that keeps me praying much more. I see in him that he has the potential to do great things for God if he can just stay on the right path.

So of course, I pray about this frequently in his prayer journal. Just last week I got that nugget of my investment in prayer bringing forth something tangible. He was telling me this story about how at recess he was with his best friend Victor, who attends our church and another boy from school. Now keep in mind these are 10 year old boys. This school friend of theirs was saying how he thought a particular girl was “hot.” My boys are well aware of what I think about that phrase. It is a very demeaning way to describe any female.

So this boy asked my son and Victor who they think is hot and my son said no one. This school friend then asked him if he was gay and he said no, that he doesn’t think those things about girls and then his friend Victor said they were too young for that. These boys stood up for their beliefs and risked the ridicule that would be received. I was so proud of my son and saw that my prayers are not in vain. He can stay on the right path and it won’t be me taking him by the hand and forcing him to stay on that path. It will be God working through my prayers.

I don’t know what situations you are facing with your children. I don’t know what struggles are in your relationship with them or the poor choices that they may be making. It could be that your children are young yet and you have only begun to really think about how your prayers can make a difference. Know this…God can and does move on behalf of your prayers! They may not be immediate but they will happen. It may not always be in the way we like or in the method that we would choose. God’s ways are higher than our ways. His plan is always a good one.

Take the time to really lift up those prayers to the One who created, formed and shaped your children. I do recommend prayer journals as being a way to keep track of the times you have brought these things before God and then be able to look back and see how God answered them. I think it’s a wonderful legacy to leave to your children. Every single notebook or journal that I have written in for my children, I will one day give to them. What a treasure that will be for them.

Meanwhile, we have a treasure of written words from God. We have the Word of God to stand on. This is the legacy that He has given to us and not only must it be something we read but it must be something we treasure. Use the Word as your sword to combat the things in your children’s lives that would try to destroy them. You cannot go wrong with the Word!

Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Proverbs 30:5

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