Summary: Specific ways to pray for children that will prove to be more effective than vague generalizations.
Iliff and Saltillo UM
October 24, 2004
"How to Pray for Your Children"
INTRODUCTION: A bumper sticker read, "I have teenagers! Pray for me!"
If you have teenagers, you might feel this way at times. However, today we’re going to talk about how you can pray for your children. Today’s scripture encourages us to pray for many things.
The Message Bible puts it this way. "Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
How do you go about shaping your concerns about your children or grandchildren or other children you come into contact with into meaningful prayers that will make a difference?
I don’t think most of us think about the many creative ways we can pray that will make an impact on our families. Have you ever prayed and you found the same tired, boring words repetitiously coming out of your mouth? Like saying out of habit, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep..." or the blessing over your meals, "God is great, God is good..." I believe we can add specific things to these "starter" prayers that will make them fit our particular situation and make them more powerful, effective prayers.
Look back at your own life. Who prayed for you? How did you think they prayed? What were they asking God to do in your life? Maybe you’ll never know whose prayers shaped your life, but starting today you can conscientiously pray more effectively for those under your care.
There are four general areas in which we can target our prayers. We find this in scripture. Luke 2:52 says that "Jesus increased in wisdom (academic) and in stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual) and man (social)." Many times we pray that children will be HAPPY and do well in school or excel in sports or music or any number of things.
First of all we see in this scripture that Jesus had a balanced life--he grew strong physically and was in good health. He increased in wisdom and knowledge--the academic part of his life. And in favor with God--the spiritual and with man--the social side of his life.
Here are some ideas which will help us to pray more effectively in these four areas:
1. Pray that they will come to know Christ as Savior early in life.
John 17:3 says, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
At baptism a person takes the first step toward the Lord. John Wesley talked about the prevenient grace of God that goes before to open up the way for spiritual desire to take place. An infant is baptized and his/her parents and the church assume responsibility for teaching, praying for, guiding and directing that child until he/she fully understands what it means to receive Christ for himself/herself. An adult who is baptized comes making a public confession that he/she has received Christ and intends to follow in His footsteps.
We don’t know all the many ways that the prevenient grace of God works in a person’s life to bring him/her to the knowledge of salvation.
Pray that your children and grandchildren will come to know Christ early in life.
Samuel was another person who scripture says, "Grew in favor with the Lord" (I Samuel 2:26) (Spiritual).
2. Pray that they will be willing to make a TOTAL commitment to the Lord--that He will not only be their SAVIOR but LORD OF THEIR LIFE as well. If your children make Jesus their number one priority, they will be able to make better choices.
STORY: One Sunday morning two masked gunmen came charging into a church. People scattered in all directions with very few people remaining.
The gunmen took off their masks, put down their guns and said,
"Now that all the hypocrites are gone, you can start the service."
3. Pray that they will have a hatred for sin. Psalm 97:10 says, "Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
4. Pray that they will be caught when guilty. Psalm 119:71 says, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees."
The Message Bible says, "My troubles turned out all for the best--they forced me to learn from your textbook" (Psalm 119:71).
It is said that "Bad Behaviors are like Trees. They’re a lot easier to remove when they’re still seedlings." Pray that bad behavior will be nipped in the bud before it gets so deeply ingrained that it is hard to change.