Praying for Your
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of
heaven belongs to such as these."
Julie grew up in a home where church attendance was sporadic
and Jesus was never mentioned by name. It wasn't until
high school that she found out who Christ really was. She
became a Christian then, and, years later, when she married her
high school sweetheart, she resolved that things would be different
when they had their own family. They would introduce
their kids to Jesus at an early age and bring them up to love and
fear God. Secretly, though, Julie wondered whether she could do
it. The Christian life had never been modeled for her as a child;
how was she supposed to teach her children everything she had
missed? What if she blew it? What if they didn't respond? What
if they rejected the faith she held so dear?
Mollie had no such doubts. She and her husband strode
confidently into parenthood, armed with principles gleaned
from countless seminars, books, and personal devotions.
They "cleansed" their home of anything that might be an
obstacle to faith: out went secular books, movies, and music;
in came Bible stories, family-oriented games and sports, and
praise songs. Theirs was a close-knit, "model" Christian family
in every way-until their oldest son met and fell in love
with a Muslim girl in college. Where, Mollie wondered, had
they gone wrong? Had they pushed their kids too hard?
Would her son abandon his Christian convictions for this
Barbara didn't become a Christian until four years after
her divorce, at a time when her children were well into their
teenage years. She had no illusions about her limitations; as
a single mom it was all she could do to make ends meet, let
alone offer her kids much in the way of emotional support or
guidance. She assumed, as most of her friends did, that her
kids would naturally experiment with things like sex, drugs,
and alcohol-she just hoped that nobody would get pregnant.
But when Barbara met Christ, she began to wonder, Was there
hope for her kids? Or had the divorce, their financial struggles,
and the total lack of any sort of Christian influence or
instruction left them "too far gone" for God?
Julie, Mollie, and Barbara are not their real names, but
these women are all friends of mine. Their questions are genuine.
The good news for them (and for all of us) is that God
is not bound by our human failings. No matter how many parenting
mistakes we make, his grace is more than sufficient to
cover them. The bad news is that no matter how many things
we do right in terms of pointing our kids toward Christ, we
cannot make them love the Lord. We cannot force them into
faith or convince them that God's grace is real. As Jesus put it
in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who
sent me draws him."
Does the fact that only God can draw people to himself
mean that our job as mothers (or fathers) is simply to sit
around and watch? Absolutely not. Experiencing God author
Henry Blackaby says that seeing God at work is our invitation
to adjust our lives and join him. As parents, we can "join
God" in countless ways: We can expose our children to stories
of God's faithfulness and protection; we can model the
Christian life and introduce them to other believers; we can
teach them, encourage them, sing to them, and love them. And
most of all, we can pray for them.
The sooner we realize that it is not about what we do but
about what God does, the sooner we will stop focusing on
ourselves and our shortcomings, and begin focusing on God
and his power. Likewise, the sooner we quit worrying about
doing our part, the sooner we can start rejoicing in the fact
that God is doing his part. And the sooner we recognize that
God is at work, the sooner we can jump in and join him.
Prayer Principle ____________________________________
Salvation as the Starting Point
Before I started writing this book, I polled more than one
hundred mothers to see what they wanted most for their children.
My informal surveys, tucked into our family's Christmas
cards and randomly distributed to friends and neighbors,
listed everything from health and safety to academic success
and strong family ties. I asked folks to check their top five
desires or prayer requests, and I eventually used this feedback
to shape the book's table of contents.
On the survey I also included an "other" category, where
folks could comment on the topics or add their own thoughts.
My friend Troy Lee shared this story of how God answered
her prayers for her children:
Before each of my children was born I prayed that
they would be first a Christian and second healthy. I
prayed that as long as we would be allowed to enjoy our
children on earth, it would be long enough for them to
accept Christ as their Savior. In other words, please let
them live to be saved-however old or however young.
This prayer has been answered for two of my children
so far, but very significantly in Abner IV's life. You
may know that he died at age seven and a half. Seven
months prior to his unexpected death, Abner prayed
with his father to accept Christ and was baptized the
next week. God let him live long enough to be saved.
This is even more interesting as we found out
exactly what Abner died of (it took nine weeks to determine).
Endocardial fibroelastosis is very rare. We were
told that Abner's case would be published in a medical
journal because in the last forty years, only two other
people in the world had ever lived past age one with this