What do you pray for your children?
When I posed this question, a father of three gave me this honest answer:
“My wife and I are 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.”
Reflecting on his own prayers, the father also shared with me that his own parents—before they became Christians—used to make him and his siblings offer prayers to God to pass their exam. “Even non-Christian parents can be ‘prayerful’ for the sake of their children!” he observed.
I’m sure there are other parents who share the same experience. It made me wonder: How do we pray for our kids? Why should we pray, and what should we pray for?
To be sure, education is an integral part of our children’s lives today, so there is nothing wrong about praying for their academic endeavours.
But, I wonder, if that’s the only thing our kids hear us praying about, what kind of message might we be sending to them?
Could we be inadvertently showing them that the paper chase is ultimately more important than their daily walk with Christ? Or that studies and achievements are more important than character and godliness? Could we be suggesting their future will be determined by grades rather than God’s will?
Give Us This Day 11
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Why We Need to Pray for Our Children
Ultimately, there is much more at stake than our children’s studies. 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. This is especially true today, as they are growing up in a challenging and confusing world that seeks to draw them away from God.
Beyond their studies, our concerns are that our children hold firmly to the faith and walk in the way of the Lord all the days of their lives. This is why we need to pray for them faithfully and constantly.
Beyond their studies, our concerns are that our children hold firmly to the faith and walk in the way of the Lord all the days of their lives.
At the same time, we want to journey with our children so that we can pray for their personal needs and struggles, and show them that God is always there for them in every part of their lives. This is where regular interaction with them is important: we need to know their fears, struggles, and even doubts.
Praying for our children also has a “liberating” effect on us. As we commit our children to God in prayer, we will be reminded of our own limitations as earthly parents, and our dependence on God. While this can sometimes be challenging, it is also comforting. We can trust God to give us love, wisdom, and grace to bring our children up.
And, as we submit to the Lord’s sovereign work in the lives of both ourselves and our children, our desires for ourselves and our kids will also become more aligned with His.
What We Should Pray for Our Children
What should we pray for our children? We can take a leaf out of the book of Job, a righteous man of God. In Job 1:4–5, we catch a glimpse of what Job’s children were like: they loved to party and feast.
Instead of reproaching them, however, the first thing Job did every morning was to “sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them”. His concern was, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (v. 5).
Job’s biggest concern for his children was that of their spiritual condition. As a godly father, he wanted his children to walk rightly with God.
This is a precious lesson for us as Christian parents. What is our greatest concern for our children? Is it their studies, their physical well-being, or their spiritual state? Do we pray for their walk with God?
Here’s a checklist you can use to guide your prayers for your children. As you pray, read and reflect on the Bible verses; when you run out of words, the Word of God will guide you in your prayers!
Their relationship with God
Pray that . . .
- They will know Christ early in life (Psalm 63:1)
- They will learn to hate sin (Psalm 97:10)
- They will submit to God wholeheartedly and resist Satan (James 4:7)
- They will seek to please God and not tire of doing good (Galatians 6:8–9)
- Their conscience will be shaped by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)
- They will be protected in all areas of their lives, spiritually, emotionally, and physically (John 17:15)
Their relationships with others
Pray that . . .
- They will show God’s love in their relationships with others (Matthew 22:39)
- They will desire the right kind of friends (Psalm 1:1)
- They will respect those in authority over them (Romans 13:1)
- They will learn to work out differences with friends, siblings, and colleagues (Hebrews 12:14)
It’s Never Too Late to Start
Some parents might already be struggling with children who are not walking in the way of the Lord, and may wonder: Is it too late?
I recently read the story of American speaker and author Christopher Yuan, who is currently teaching at the Moody Bible Institute. When he was young, Christopher used to indulge in partying and promiscuity, and at one point, even dealt in drugs.
Throughout these years, his mother Angela 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 to his senses. Finally, her prayers were answered, and God drew Christopher back to Him.
What a beautiful, inspiring story of the power of a praying parent—and of God’s grace! It reminds us that no matter what spiritual state our children are in, let’s not give up. Let us persevere in prayer for our children . . . because God hears us!
This article was first published in Age of Opportunity, a publication of Singapore Youth For Christ, and is adapted with permission.