This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. — 1 John 5:14
The Brothers Grimm tell the story of Sleeping Beauty, which opens with all of the fairies in the kingdom bringing baptismal gifts to an infant princess. One fairy gives beauty, another offers virtue, a third bestows kindness, and so on until the little girl has everything she needs to grow into a wise and lovely young woman.
Reading this story to my own young daughters, I used to wish that such blessings were so easy to come by. Just throw a christening party, invite all the fairies, and — presto! — your child would be covered.
But God gives us another — better — way to provide these gifts (and so many more) for our children. He invites us to pray. And, in fact, according to many biblical scholars, God requires us to pray before he can go to work.
Why Pray for Children
About 250 years ago, British evangelist John Wesley wrote that “God does nothing on earth save in answer to believing prayer”; many contemporary pastors and authors echo this thought, noting, as nineteenth-century evangelist Andrew Murray did, that “God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking.”
The Bible supports this connection. Over and over again God says, “Ask of me, and I will” and “If my people will humble themselves and pray, then will I . . .” and “Ask and it will be given to you.”
Moreover, there is scriptural evidence that there are times when our failure to ask God for something results in his holding back on the blessings or protection he wanted to provide (see, for example, Ezekiel 22:30-31). No matter how you interpret passages like this one, one thing is clear: God wants us to pray.
As a mother, I’ve always seen prayer as a natural part of the parenting process, and I have always prayed for my children. But for many years my prayers tended to run along the “God bless Johnny” lines. I’d ask God to help my kids on their spelling tests, protect them on field trips, and restore their health when they got the flu or ran a fever. Rarely, though, did my prayers get more creative than that, and almost never did I sense that they packed any real punch.
And then I got involved with a group called Moms in Prayer (formerly Moms In Touch). On the basis of Scripture verses like John 15:7 (“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you”) and Jeremiah 1:12, amplified (“I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it”), the Moms in Prayer tactic is to use the Bible itself — God’s actual words — as the foundation for our prayers.
How to Pray for Children
Here’s what I mean. Verses like Ephesians 4:32 (“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”) can be reworked into terrific prayers for how your kids treat each other:
I pray that Hillary and Annesley would be kind and compassionate toward each other, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave them.
Verses like 2 Timothy 2:22 (“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”) can serve as a prayer for the friends your children choose:
I pray that Virginia and Robbie would flee from evil desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, enjoying the company of children who call on the Lord and have pure hearts.
Not only are prayers like these more interesting and creative than the ones I used to come up with on my own, but, because they come straight out of the Bible, they carry the full weight and power of God’s word. As God says in Isaiah 55:11, “my word. . . will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” And as the author of Hebrews points out, “the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective].”
Each of the chapters in my book deal with a different prayer topic or area of concern that parents often have for their children. Each chapter includes illustrations that bring these topics to life, and while I have sometimes changed names and minor details, all of the stories are true. I am grateful to the many parents who were willing to share in this book their concerns as well as their prayers.
How do you pray for your children? What passages of Scripture do you use for prayer? We welcome you to leave your comments and thoughts on our blog below!