Personal Growth

How to Pray for Your Children

by Andy Gleiser

man bowed in prayer

“We must never cease to pray for our children until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

Do you pray for your children? What do those prayers look like? I confess that often in the busyness of life, my prayers for my kids look something like microwaved leftovers. I hastily enter God’s presence and almost absent-mindedly breathe a well-worn request I haven’t really meditated on. I have prayed, but I haven’t been very intentional in my prayer. I said words. I meant them. But I didn’t give them much thought.

I have no desire to place undue guilt on any Christian father. Who among us would not be the first to admit he should do better in prayer? So allow me to share what God has been teaching me so far in intentionally praying for the children God has given to me.

The apostle Paul spoke of his love for the Christians in Thessalonica as a family love. He nourished them as a mother does her babies. He encouraged them as a father does his children. He was “affectionately desirous of them.” So when he speaks of his prayers for them, he is praying from a spiritual parent’s heart. Listen in to his intercession for his spiritual children, and draw four principles in praying for your own children.

1. Pray with gratitude (1 Thess. 3:9)

Paul thanked the Lord for all He had been doing in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians. The Holy Spirit had turned them from idols to serve the living and true God. And Paul’s heart overflowed with gratitude for God’s work of grace.

Before you bring any request to God for your son or daughter, pause to reflect on His gracious work in his or her life. Look for where they are becoming more like Christ, and thank God for that. You will begin to see your child as God does, a work in progress. This will put you in the proper mindset for the petitions to come.

2. Pray with frequency (1 Thess. 3:10)

The great apostle had ongoing times of prayer for the Thessalonians. He was in Corinth (Acts 18) when he wrote this letter, so during those busy days, he found time to pray for those he loved.

Regularly bring your child’s name to the Lord in prayer. You may have prolonged seasons of prayer, but I would encourage you to frequently bring them to Christ during your busy days. Morning showers, work commutes, lunch breaks, afternoon walks, and waiting lines are all times to be redeemed as prayer for those you love. Pray for them also in their hearing. Let them know their dad cares enough to keep praying for them.

3. Pray with precision (1 Thess. 3:10, 12-13)

I cannot take the time to fully explain these verses, but let me bottom-line it. Paul specifically prayed for the Thessalonian Christian’s faith, love, and holiness. He pleaded with God that He might perfect their faith, increase their love, and establish their holiness.

No longer do you need to scratch your head about what to pray for your children. First, point out to the Lord where you see deficiencies in their walk of faith, and plead for the Holy Spirit to work in that area. Secondly, request Him to fill your children with His own love that will soon spill out from them to others. Finally, bring their need of Christlike holiness to the Lord so that He might establish their behavior as blameless in the eyes of God. FAITH. LOVE. HOLINESS. Pray with precision. Leave generic prayer behind.

4. Pray with dependence (1 Thess. 3:11)

Though Paul had been banished from Thessalonica, his prayer was that God would open a door for him to return so he might have further ministry in their lives. A spirit of dependence on God alone breathes over these prayer requests.

“Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, I thank You for your work of grace in my children’s lives. And You know this is not the first time I have brought them to You. I ask that You perfect them in these areas of deficiency, grow their love for You and others, and ground them in holy behavior for Your glory. If there is to be any change into Christlikeness, it will be entirely because of You. I give them to You in love. Amen.”

Let us step it up in the area of prayer. Our children are worth it.

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