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Prayer in Parenting

October 02 2018
October 02 2018

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As the women of Redeemer studied Colossians in Bible Study last spring semester, I was struck by how parental Paul is to the church in Colossae. It was very convicting to me as a parent to notice how, time and time again, Paul focuses not on their weakness, but on their progress. He gives thanks for the fruit that has been borne. Notice how in this central passage, Paul prays for them, he tells them he has prayed for them, and reminds them that he continues to pray for them!

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:9-12

Paul’s prayer isn’t for them to “do better,” but rather his prayer is for spiritual wisdom. How often, in our impatience, do we bombard our children with “do better” messages in the Christian life? I believe praying for spiritual wisdom for our children will help us keep sight of a few things that are easy to forget when we are tempted to fall into that “do better” mindset:

  • Praying for spiritual wisdom for our children reminds us that they are currently foolish – cuddly, cute, wonderful – but still foolish. Prayer, patience and the work of the Holy Spirit is the only way for wisdom to blossom from foolishness in their lives — not their efforts alone, or ours, for that matter.
  • Praying reinforces our need for patience. Parenting is the work of waiting. In rough stages and exhausting times, sometimes all we can do is pray while we’re waiting for more sleep, more wisdom, new milestones. The things we pray for may come in time, but the patience we need is built only in waiting and learning to trust in God’s timing.
  • Praying helps us learn to look for and notice the fruit in our children’s lives, no matter how small, and point it out to our children so they can be encouraged, too.

Have you ever been prayed for out loud? It is powerful, and terribly humbling all at the same time. One practical thing you can do is pray for your child, in front of your child. Sometimes there is a disconnect between our own personal prayers and the short prayers we say in the presence of our children for meals or at bedtimes. But consider a new tactic — in the midst of a parenting struggle or power play with your child, stop and tell your child you would like to pray for her. Start with thanking God for her and at least one unique quality you love about her, thank God for putting your child in your family, and then ask God to come help you in your parenting, and your child in that moment.

Why do we pray? Not for the magical change we wish to see in our children, but for the transformative power it has on our own hearts. We can pray with greater love, clarity and peace, knowing that the Father hears us. What a privilege and joy it is to pray for our children!

Sarah Beaugh is Director of Children's Ministries at Redeemer.


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