“All I can do is pray for them now.”
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say this about their wayward child. Hey, maybe you’ve said it yourself.
Richard and I have heard it many times (and said it ourselves), and, yes, it’s true, sometimes all we can do is pray for our kids.
But we want to be praying the right kind of prayers for them.
Prayers that make a difference.
That sounds great, but prayers that make a difference start long before your knees hit the floor or your tears flood your pillow deep in the night.
Powerful prayers begin with introspection, owning mistakes, getting your own life together.
There’s a truth that many people ignore: One of the biggest reasons kids rebel is because of their parents.
Ouch. I know that hurts, and none of us wants to acknowledge that we messed up. But unless we do, the chances are slim our kids will accept our faith and values.
Let’s be specific about how to pray powerful prayers:
(Thanks to my husband for these insightful questions. I overheard him sharing these on a Bible study group and quickly wrote them down.)
If the answers to the above questions reveal areas where you failed, then own your mistakes. Don’t blame your kids or the church or the pastor.
Confess your mistakes to God and your family. Ask God for true repentance and then begin the work of restoring what you have broken.
Apologise to your kids for your mistakes. Be specific. This will make it easier for them to return to God, but don’t expect it to happen overnight. Give your kids freedom to be led by God, not you (provided they are adults.)
James 5:16 tells us that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (KJV)
It’s the man’s life that gives power to his prayers.
In his book, Intercessory Prayer, Andrew Murray says, “It is as we learn to live the life that pleases God, that God will give what we ask for.” [i]
“It is as men live that they pray. It is the life that prays.” [ii]
We must stop doing the things that caused our kids to rebel and reject God. We must ditch hypocrisy and bring our lives into harmony with God’s will.
True intercession is more than tossing a passing prayer for our children heavenward. It is persevering, self-sacrificing prayer on behalf of someone else.
Moses demonstrated the spirit of true intercession by being willing to be blotted out of God’s book of eternal life:
“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Exodus 32:31,32 (KJV)
Job demonstrated how to intercede for our children:
“And it was so… that Job… rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all (his children): for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” Job 1:5 (KJV)
We must intercede for our children continually. Even when we don’t see results, we should persevere in praying for them.
When our lives come into harmony with God, when we own our mistakes and repent of them, when we persevere in praying for our children, then it is that we pray powerful prayers on their behalf.
One caveat: We may get our lives together, we may confess our mistakes and make right with our kids, and still not see them return to the fold. Why?
Because God honours the choice of our children.
Intercessory prayer is not meant to twist God’s arm to save our children. It’s meant to bring our hearts into harmony with God’s heart so we desire our children’s salvation as much as He does, but that we also give our children the freedom to choose otherwise – as God does.
Our prayers give God permission to press closer to our kids and draw them back to Himself.
I pray we won’t stand in the way of that.
Have you asked yourself the hard questions? Do you own your mistakes? What do you need to change so that you can pray powerful prayers for your kids?
[i] Andrew Murray, Intercessory Prayer, 19,20
[ii] Ibid. 21 Emphasis supplied.