After the Christmas tree comes down and everything from the holiday season is being cleaned up and stored, I always take the opportunity to go through my garage and clean and organize. It always seems that everything unsightly gets piled in there throughout December just to hide it away and keep a calm peaceful look inside the house.
Isn’t that what we all do for ourselves every first of the year? Making resolutions is just cleaning up all the junk in our souls that we stashed away to deal with later. The new year makes for a great new start.
One thing I really want to work on is my prayer life. Is it a great sin to be envious of other people’s prayer abilities?…probably. I’m not proud of mine. It is an area that I want to grow in. I’d prefer to “pray continually” throughout the day to going through a list every morning, but it seems I often forget and lose momentum.
So, I do default to the list that I have come up with over the years for my children. With my kids in public school, I could spend my day worrying about them, but my best defense against anxiety are my prayers for them…in the morning from this list, but growing hopefully into in-the-moment, specific prayers for them all day long.
1. A desire to know God – I pray that my children will have a strong, internal desire to know God…to know him and not just about him. I trust that with this one characteristic, all the rest will fall into place. This is something that I cannot force them to have, but can gently guide them toward. The Lord must place this desire in their heart.
2. A great love for others and ability to demonstrate their love in kindness – Well, I guess it makes sense to start with the greatest two of commandments, love the Lord and love others. Don’t we know that loving others doesn’t come easy though? Giving my children access to “others” to love is one of the main reasons I send them to public school. I pray the Lord make them compassionate and courageous to love those that are hurting, those that are broken, and those that need a friend. I pray that they would not be self-centered, but others focused and actively kind.
3. Spiritual protection – Just recently I have more clearly recognized the powerful spiritual attacks that we as Christians face. We cannot ignore that the world, their sinful nature, and Satan are out to make them and be ineffective. I pray prayers on the offense against those attacks on my children.
4. Contentment – I pray for contentment for myself daily, but I see also that the struggle for contentment can be a battle even for children. I want mine to live in a world where other people have “stuff” they want, but they can come home and be thankful for the things they already have. I want them to be joyful and satisfied in Christ alone.
5. Humility/Repentance – It is not in our nature to be humble and repent when we make a mistake. I try to teach this to my children, but I want it to be come from their own hearts. I want them to recognize their weaknesses, not to feel bad, but to be thankful to God for His amazing grace!
6. Good Friendships/Future Spouse – Knowing that I am not always going to be there for my children, I pray that God will provide them with good, Christian friends that will help guide and protect them. Friends help them learn and grow, but they also have the potential to lead them down the wrong road. I ask the Lord to be in the middle of my children’s friendships. I even pray for their future spouses knowing that friendship will ultimately be the most important one for the majority of their lives!
7. Respect for authority – Children do not have respect for authority now as much as in the past. If they dismiss adults and their wisdom they miss an important guidance and protection. I want my children to have an appreciation for rules and consequences from adults, to see them for their benefit and not as a burden.
8. Strength of Character – I want my children to have the strength to do the right thing, to be courageous and confident, and to work hard to do their best. The hard part about this prayer is that growth in character often comes through trials. I don’t want my children to suffer, but they need to learn that life is not fair and sometimes you don’t get what you want. I pray for myself that I would be able to let them fail and not rescue them from those lessons.
9. Motivation and enthusiasm to be who God made them to be – Each child is so different. I pray that each one will discover the passions, gifts and talents that God gave them. Hopefully that will send them in the direction He has marked out for their lives. If they would do what He wants them to do, what more could I ask for?
10. Understanding – So often information goes in one ear and out their other…at home and at school! I pray that my children will not only hear, but understand. I want the academic and biblical training to stick in their brains…then move to their hearts. As my oldest child has entered junior high, I realized this will certainly require divine intervention!
There are many other things that I pray specifically for my children, but these fit each one at all times. I find that these prayers help me to trust their lives to the Lord. They help me loosen my grip on their lives to give them room to grow into the people God wants them to be.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)