This is the deepest desire of my heart and the greatest challenge of my life.
Parenting our three children is far more difficult and far more important than pastoring thousands of people. Just the other day, I said to [my wife] Lora, “I feel like we’ll finally figure out this parenting thing the same day our kids leave home!”
The truth is, we’ll never figure it out, because children are moving targets.
Just when you think you have them pegged, they become toddlers or teenagers or twenty-￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼somethings, and you’re right back at square one. All you can do is learn a few lessons along the way and enjoy the journey. I have discovered one thing, however, that makes all the difference in the world.
Make sure the heavenly Father hears about your kids daily!
Bad News, Good News, and Great News
Right at the outset, let me give you some bad news, some good news, and some great news about parenting and praying for your children.
The bad news first: You’ll make a lot of mistakes.
You’ll lose your patience. You’ll lose your temper. You might even lose your mind a time or two.
If you feel like a failure at the end of most days, welcome to my world. My parenting ineptitude is epitomized by one shining moment when our oldest son, Parker, was a toddler. He had a fitful night full of tears, and I couldn’t understand why.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Then he crawled into our room in the middle of the night. I was too tired to take him back to his bed, so I reached down to pull him into ours. That’s when I realized why he had been crying. A bare butt was the tip-off that I had forgotten to put a diaper on him when I put him to bed.
It’s amazing our kids even survive our parenting, isn’t it?
While we’re on the subject, the word diaper spelled backward is repaid. So apropos!
Now here’s the good news: Your worst mistakes double as your greatest opportunities.
How will your kids learn to apologize unless you model it for them, to them? Your mistakes give you the opportunity to teach them one of the most important lessons they’ll ever learn — how to say “I’m sorry.”
I have a very simple parenting philosophy that boils down to just three words: please, sorry, and thanks. If all else fails, I want to teach my kids to be really good at saying these words.
And then doing them.
If they master these three words, they’re well on their way to great marriages, great friendships, or great relationships with God.
Finally, here’s the great news: Prayer covers a multitude of sins.
You don’t have to do everything right as a parent, but there is one thing you cannot afford to get wrong. That one thing is prayer.
You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent.
There is nothing you can do that will have a higher return on investment. In fact, the dividends are eternal.
Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren, and every generation that follows.
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In his book, Praying Circles Around You Children, Mark Batterson shares five prayer circles that will not only help you pray for your kids, but also pray through your kids. Batterson teaches about how to create prayer lists unique to your family, claim God-inspired promises for your children, turn your family circle into a prayer circle, and discover your child’s life themes. And he not only tells you how, he illustrates why. As Batterson says, “I realize that not everyone inherited a prayer legacy like I did, but you can leave a legacy for generations to come. Your prayers have the power to shape the destiny of your children and your children’s children. It’s time to start circling.”
Do you make time daily for praying for your children? What is the one thing you make sure to pray over them each day?