As good Christians, we all know that prayer is a fundamental aspect of our faith. Yet, the reality paints a different picture: it has been said that an average of just 10% of the church’s congregation attend the weekly prayer meeting.
Could our attitude towards the family of God reflect our attitude towards our immediate families? Surely getting down on our knees in prayer has to be one of the greatest and most needful things we can do for our children—but do we actually do so? Have we been praying for our children as often and fervently as we should?
Furthermore, if the attendance of a church’s prayer meeting is a barometer of the church’s spiritual condition, what do our lack of prayers for our children say about our spiritual condition?
But Who Says We’re Not Praying?
Hang on, you may be thinking, I do pray regularly for my children. Well, here’s another question to consider: What do you pray for? You may identify with this honest reflection by a father of three:
“I have to confess that my wife and I are guilty of constantly fretting and praying that our children are enrolled into the “right” kindergarten, followed by the “right” primary school to score well for their PSLE, so that they might get into the “right” secondary school and do well in their O Levels, which will then allow them to proceed to a good junior college or polytechnic, which in turn will get them to a place in the university of their choice.
Some 40 years ago, before my free-thinker parents were converted to Christ, my mom made all of us offer prayers so that I would pass my PSLE. That shows that even non-Christian parents can be “prayerful” for the sake of their children!”
Sure, education is an integral part of our children’s lives, and there is nothing wrong in praying for our children’s academic endeavors. But if that’s the only thing our kids hear us praying about, are we sending across the wrong message? For instance, that the “paper chase” is ultimately more important than their daily walk with Christ? Or that their character and godliness are not as important as their studies and achievements? Or that their friends and future are determined more by the grades they get, than what God has for them?
Why Should We Pray For Our Children?
Ultimately, we need to know what’s really at stake. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Every one of us, including our own children, is exposed to attacks from the forces of darkness. Our regular interaction with them should help us know their secret fears, secret struggles, and even secret doubts. As parents who know who they are, what they need and what they lack, we are in the best position to pray for them.
Also, praying for our children has a “liberating” effect on us. When we commit our children to God in prayer, we recognize our dependence on God and our limitations as earthly parents. We learn to trust God for love, wisdom, and grace to bring our children up. And by submitting to the Lord’s sovereign work in both our lives and our children’s lives, we are less likely to exasperate our children.
What Should We Pray For Our Children?
So next comes the question: what should we be praying for? Let’s take a leaf out of Job’s book, whom the Bible described as a righteous man, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1)
In Job 1:4-5, we catch a glimpse of what Job’s children were like: they loved to party and feast. But instead of reproaching them, the first thing Job would do every morning was to “sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” (v 5)
Here, we read of Job’s awareness of his children’s sinfulness and his perpetual concern for his children’s spiritual condition. As a godly father, Job wanted his own children to walk rightly with God.
This is a precious lesson for all Christian parents: we ought to be concerned about our children’s walk with God at all times. Our concern for our children should not be confined to their physical well-being, but their spiritual state as well. No amount of parenting skills and knowledge can replace the need to pray for our children. And this concern should stem from our own fear of God!
We can refer to the following checklist as we cover our children in prayer:
- They will know Christ early in life (Ps 63:1; 1 Timothy 3:15)
- They will have a hatred for sin (Ps 97:10)
- They will learn to submit to God wholeheartedly and resist Satan (James 4:7)
- They will learn about the fear of God (Galatians 6:6-9)
- They will be caught when guilty (Ps 119:71)
- They will be protected from the evil one in all areas of their lives: spiritual, emotional and physical (Matthew 6:13; John 17:15)
- They will have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships (Daniel 6:5)
- They will desire the right kind of friends (Proverbs 1:10-11; Psalm 1:1; 1 Corinthians 15:33)
- They will be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
- They will be protected from wrong places and wrong people (Psalm 1:1,2; Hosea 2:6)
- They will respect those in authority over them (Romans 13:1)
- They will learn to work out their differences with friends, siblings, and colleagues
(Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14)
God’s Missionaries And their Praying Parents
Would it surprise you to know that behind some of the greatest Christian missionaries and ministers were godly mothers who prayed fervently for them? These include British Christian missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, English Anglican cleric and theologian John Wesley as well as American speaker and author, Christopher Yuan.
Yuan, who is currently teaching the Bible at Moody Bible Institute and currently travels around the world to talk about faith and sexuality, didn’t begin this way. Instead, he used to indulge in partying and uncontrolled promiscuity, and at one point, was a prominent supplier for drug dealers.
But throughout all those years, his mother, Angela Yuan prayed quietly for him, pleading with God to save her son’s soul. For years, she would hide in her prayer room, fasting and praying that God would do whatever it took to bring her son. Finally, her prayers were answered when God pulled Christopher back to Him.
Isn’t that a beautiful story of the power of a praying mother and God’s grace? So regardless of the spiritual state our children are in, let’s not give up. May we persevere in prayer for their sake because God hears us!
posted on 20 Sep 2017