Monica grieved as her brilliant son Augustine lived a life of pursuing youthful lusts and straying far from God.
Augustine had been schooled in the best possible way, but he did things that hurt his mother, a godly Christian. He lived with a woman who was not married to him and they had a child. But Monica never gave up hope and prayed earnestly for her son.
God eventually answered Monica’s prayer. Augustine travelled to Milan in Italy, where he came into contact with a bishop called Ambrose, who had a godly influence on him.
Augustine came to find a living faith in Christ, and eventually, became an influential theologian and bishop in the early church. Today, some 17 centuries later, he is considered to be the greatest theologian next to the apostle Paul.
Augustine wrote about his grief over the death of his mother, “who had wept long years for me that in your [God’s] sight I might live.” He was grateful that her faithful prayers had been answered by God.
Give Us This Day 16
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Going Beyond the Usual Prayer
It is natural to pray for our children when they are ill or before they sit for examinations. God does hear such prayers. But we need to go deeper and further in our prayers for our children.
Their most important needs are spiritual, and we ought to pray for their spiritual health and progress.
Monica prayed for Augustine when he fell ill as a teenager. She tried to get him baptised. When he recovered, she was brought to deeper grief by his lazy and irresponsible life.
She prayed for her son’s soul. She went to Bishop Ambrose with the tears of an anxious mother, and the bishop reassured her that it “cannot be that the son of those tears should perish.”
It is natural to pray for our children when they are ill or before they sit for examinations. But we need to go deeper and further in our prayers.
What should parents be praying for with regard to their children’s spiritual needs?
In his article, “Seven Things to Pray for Your Children”, Bible teacher and author Jon Bloom provides a helpful list of seven things that we can pray for:
- That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming (Matthew 19:13–15).
- That they will respond in faith to Jesus’ faithful, persistent call (2 Peter 3:9).
- That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfil the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37–39).
- That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage (2 Corinthians 6:14).
- That their thoughts will be pure (Philippians 4:8).
- That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work (Exodus 35:29).
- That when the time is right, they will GO! (Matthew 28:18–20).
Jesus Is Praying for Our Kids, Too
Of course, we may also pray for our children’s health, relationships, their friends and other influences, their academic progress, and for their future. Some of us even pray for our children’s life-partners, not known to them yet, but known to God.
In all our prayers for our children, it helps to remember what the Lord Jesus is doing right now. Scripture tells us that he “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). He is praying for us at this very moment.
God is speaking to God about us. Jesus is praying for your children too—just take that truth in!
If He is praying for your children, you can also sense what He is praying about. What is He saying to His Father about the various needs and situations that your child is in? What is He saying about your child’s spiritual condition and his future?
To discern this is to pray with Jesus, letting your prayers for your children join His prayers. How comforting to know that you are not alone in your fervent praying for your children.
Jesus is praying for your children too—just take that truth in!
Even when you are struggling in prayer for your children, when things look bad and there is not much hope (such as when a child goes astray and is in serious trouble, or is gravely ill), you can draw comfort from knowing that with Jesus, the Holy Spirit is also interceding for us “through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). God understands our parental concerns and griefs, and is close to us when we bring our children to Him in prayer.
According to the famous writer on prayer, E. M. Bounds, “What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organisations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.”
For this truth to apply to the family, we can simply substitute “family” for “church” and “parents” for “men”. Praying parents are a mighty force in the kingdom of God.
Extracted and adapted from Raising the Next Generation: Biblical Meditations on Parenting, published by Discovery House Publishers © 2019 by Robert M. Solomon.