I was thinking about what I could post today when I ran across this article from Josh Harris (author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and now Sr. Pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland). Actually, he got it from the Virginia Home Educators Magazine. Although the article directly talks about homeschooling parents, I believe that what Mr. Bradley says is true of any sincere Christian parent. Today's post is a prayer in response to what Mr. Bradley has written. Heavenly Father,
Thank You so much for blessing me with children. I know there have been times when I have complained (and whined) about the work it takes to raise them. But I also know there is no other job I'd rather do.
However, as wonderful as this work is, I know that I can also twist it to serve my own means. My children are not about showcasing how great a mother I am, but to glorify You. Father, forgive me when I look to my children for my success. They are not meant to be trophies that I parade around. Please teach me how to dream big for my children, for the furtherance of Your Kingdom and not my own. Not only that, I pray that You will help me not to make my family an idol. Please teach me how to invest myself deeply in relationships with my children as an overflow of my relationship with You, not as a substitute.
As I train my children, I pray that my deepest desire is that they love You out of a pure heart. May I not be content merely with well-behaved children. Lord, I ask for discernment to take the time to deal with the heart, not just the action. Sometimes I don't want to see or deal with those things. It's so much easier to just get them to look good.
Father, teach me how to invest my time in the things that really matter in the lives of my children, particularly their relationship with You. I know I can get sidetracked by the schoolwork, the activities, the desire to fit in. None of these will matter if my children do not have a heart for You.
On the flip side, though, Lord, I also pray against pride in my own heart. I know that we have chosen to raise our children in a way that may not go with the grain of the culture around us. I believe You have called us into the life we now live, but I also realize that it may not be what You are asking others to do. Father, help me to hold firmly to our convictions without imposing them on others. All You ask is for me to follow You. If You desire to use me to influence others, please make that clear to me. Otherwise, help me to humbly follow You out of obedience.
Thank You for not giving us formulas and rules to turn out godly children. Although I must confess it may be easier, I know that I would quickly cease to trust You. I pray Father that You will personally guide me in raising each of my children in the way they should go, even if it is different from their siblings or their friends. May the difficult moments drive me not to books or other people for answers but may they drive me to You alone.
Father, as my children grow and move towards adulthood, I pray for wisdom and discernment in how to parent them. This has been a challenge for me as I learn to navigate the waters of the teen years. Teach me when to let go and when to cheer from the sidelines.
I know that even if I do everything "right," my children still have a will of their own. Please help me to do my part, but always realize that they must ultimately stand before You alone. That scares me, Lord. How much I want to protect them. How much I wish there were guarantees that they will follow You all their lives. But I know there aren't.
Instead of clamping down as they express their growing independence, I ask for Your help in cultivating relationships of influence with my children. I don't know how to do this very well, but I pray that You will teach me how to win their hearts so that there might be some chance that I can influence who they become as well.
Show me when it is time for them to be released into the "real world." When it comes time to do so, I pray that I will do so with confidence and faith that even if they leave my home, they will never leave Your care. May You ultimately be their shield and protector. When they encounter situations that stretch their faith, I pray that what has been instilled in them will bear fruit for You. Even if they should choose to go a different than I would desire, I ask that You will help me to draw close to You instead and keep praying and trusting You.
As a mother, I pray that I may continue to keep growing in my own relationship with You, so that I may have an authentic faith to pass on to my children. Father, I desire You to be my true love and that as I grow in my love for You, I may be filled to overflowing with all the fullness of Your Spirit. Change me, Lord, so that I may represent You and testify of You to my children. May that faith be contagious to them, so that they will want to know You more because of me. Please show me my areas of sin and weakness that need to be dealt with that hinder me from being the kind of person You want me to be.
Above all, Father, remind me that parenting is not about activities, education, or opportunities, but relationship. I am often so wrapped up in all the plans I have for my children that I fail to seize the moments I have with them. Lord, please help me to have the faith to put aside my agenda so that I can play, listen, or celebrate with them.
I trust that these requests are in line with what You desire for me as a mother. Thank You for the many opportunities that You give me every day as I watch my children grow. I am honored that You have blessed me with Janna, Matthew, and Jonathan. May I not take this stewardship lightly, but may I also not fail to enjoy the moments You give so lavishly. In Jesus' name, Amen.