I’m a dad of 4 kids and I often find myself wanting to control my kid’s lives. Their choices, how they behave. I also have a deep desire to make sure they grow up correctly, as I define it. To make sure they follow Jesus, use their life to make an impact, marry someone worthwhile, work hard and have a good life.
For the most part, I can’t control any of that. Right now I can control much of their lives. But I’m not sure how much control I’ll have over the rest of their lives. In his book Gospel Powered Parenting, William Farley says, “The goal of parenting is for your kids to be changed by the gospel, the rest is just mop up.” I don’t know if you realize this yet as a parent, but you can’t make your kids follow Jesus. You can take them to church everyday and they may not follow Jesus. The Holy Spirit has to change them; you can’t make them a Christian. You can’t will them to be a Christian. They aren’t going to heaven simply because you take them to church.
I’m often asked then what a parent can do. If it’s true that we can’t make our kids follow Jesus, we can’t make our kids have the lives we want for them, what do you do?
We pray for them.
While you were probably waiting for that with the title of this blog. I’m surprised how few parents actually pray for their kids. Here’s the reality, if you aren’t praying for your kids, chances are no one is. In Romans 8:34 we are told that when we pray, right now, Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father interceding on our behalf. Jesus goes to God the Father with our requests, when we pray for our kids, Jesus intercedes for us. Much like your kids probably intercede for each other as they proposition you for things.
Here are some things we pray for our kids about:
- Their heart. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t change them, my kids will spend eternity apart from Jesus in hell. Everyday we pray for this. Katie and I pray this together, on our own and with them. When we lay them down at night, I ask God to change their hearts, my kids hear this prayer each night.
- Their spouse. We pray right now for the person they will marry. I ask God to send a man to Ava who will be Jesus to her, who will lay his life down for her out of his passion for Jesus and his passion for her. I ask God to send my 3 sons a wife who will love Jesus, who will have the character that is strong, who will follow their leadership.
- Their future. I pray that they will become men and women who will love Jesus. They will make choices out of their desire for the glory of God. I pray that they will live lives that change the world. Yes, every night I pray out loud for our kids to change the world.
These are things I pray with our kids each night that they hear. On our own, Katie and have other more specific prayers depending on what is happening in their lives.