Let’s just imagine for a moment that parents pray for their children only once a day from the day they are born until they are twenty-two years of age (the typical age when a child graduates from college). If my calculations are correct that would be more than 8,000 prayers! Of course, the fact is that praying parents don’t quit praying for their children when they turn twenty-two, and it is probably true that on most days more than one prayer has been taken before the throne of God for each child. It would not take long to figure that 10,000 or more prayers are offered by our children during the first part of their lives.
The brother of Jesus said that the “prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” (James 5:16) That being true, how effective must 10,000 plus prayers be? I have always believed that prayer is powerful and that prayer can change things. In addition, I have always believed that God answers every prayer. As I have grown older, I have come to realize that God doesn’t always answer prayer with the answer that we want, and that He doesn’t always answer prayer on our time table. At least one of the reasons for this is because God knows better than we know what we need as well as when we need it. Another reason is because God allows free will in our world. Not only the free will of our children (their ability to make decisions on their own, etc.), but also the free will of others (a drunk driver choosing to get behind the wheel and take the life of a child). I have heard some argue that if you are faithful to God all you have to do is pray and you will have your request. If that is the case how in the world do you explain why two families pray that their children will arrive home safely from college and only one of the requests is granted? Or, why two children go off to war, and in spite of the fact that both families are faithful to God and both families are in sincere prayer, only one child makes it home alive?
I was in the car one day with a dear, old friend of mine (in his eighties now), and we starting talking about prayer. He told me that his prayer life had changed dramatically through the years. When I asked him how, he said that now his prayers are much more conversational, as if he is talking to a long time friend that he will be seeing soon. He also stated that his prayers have become much more bold through the years, because his trust in the Father has grown.
Recently, I have been thinking about how my own prayers for my children have changed, not just the mechanics, etc, but the content and the urgency. When our children were babies we prayed that God would help us raise them in “the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) I also prayed that we would not be too overbearing or too lenient with them, but that we would raise them with the proper balance. I heard someone say a long time ago that we should do all that we can to take our children from parent-control, to self-control, to God-control. As our children entered their school years we prayed that they would be safe and that they would be treated fairly. Then during their middle school years and high school years our prayer was that they would become Christians, that they would follow the instruction that we were giving them, and that they would choose friends that would not keep them the Lord. During those years when they were starting to drive and starting to date, we prayed that they would make wise decisions on the road, as well as wise decisions about who they would date. Then came the college years when we prayed that they would be safe as they traveled (why do children want to drive home all night from college and make their parents stay up all night praying for them?), that they would represent their family well, that they would be good influences on others, and that they would choose someone to marry who would help them get to heaven. Now that they are married and are working to build Christian homes of their own the prayers have changed again. Today the primary content of my prayer for my children is that they would have happy, healthy homes, that they would not forsake what they have been taught, and that they would raise faithful children of their own. What are your prayers for your children?
Dear God, help us to be the kind of parents that our children need. Help us to teach them to love You and to put You first in their lives. Help them to remember what we have taught them. Help them to be happy in their homes, to be safe, and to always be faithful to You. And Father, most of all, help us make sure that we never quit praying.