Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Praying for Our Kids

Praying for Our Kids

As Christian parents, we should be praying for our children, right? Well, it depends. If we’re like most Christians, we define praying as making a series of anxious requests to God.
“Help my children to come to know You. Help them to make wise choices in life. Help them to do well in school. Help them to overcome their fears. Help them to make friends. Help them through this difficult time. Be with them. Comfort them. Strengthen them.”
These are some things that we can all resonate with. We want our children to succeed in life and to seek the path of righteousness. But what are we saying to God when we pray these kinds of prayers? For starters, we’re saying that we feel it is necessary or even vital that we make these kinds of requests. But why? Don’t we believe that God is already taking care of our children? Don’t we believe that He is a far better parent than we could ever be? Don’t we trust Him?
Well, no, we don’t. If we did, we wouldn’t be praying like this. Our prayers reflect what we believe about God. Do you ask for things that you already have? No. When you say, “Please pass the salt,” at the dinner table, it’s because you don’t already have the salt in front of you. Likewise, when you tell God, “Please look after my children,” you’re telling Him that you don’t think He already is. When you ask Him to help your kids in any way, you’re stating that you don’t believe He’s helping them at all—either that, or you think His help is lousy. It’s really rather insulting when you think about it. After all, suppose your child came up to you and said:
“Please feed me today. Please don’t abandon me. Please don’t forget that I exist. Please don’t stop caring about me. Please give me clothes so I don’t freeze when I go outside. If I get sick, please take care of me. Please love me.”
If your child made such requests of you, would you feel blessed and complimented? Not hardly. You’d feel greatly distressed and deeply disturbed that they should feel the need to ask such things of you. Food, clothes, love—these are all things you want your child to take for granted in their early years, not things you want them to worry about obtaining. Yet when you make similar requests to God on behalf of your children, you expect Him to be pleased with your requests. But why? Aren’t you really just insulting Him and painting some ugly picture of Him as some cruel, indifferent Creator?  Just what do you think would happen if you didn’t pray for your children to come to know God? Do you think the Holy Spirit would callously pass them by and never bother to illuminate their souls with truth? Do you think He’d write them off as expendable and not care if they ended up in Hell? Of course He wouldn’t. Your prayers aren’t the reason God loves and takes care of your children. Your children are His own prized creations. He is their true Parent—you’re just a temporary babysitter who He has honored with the great privilege of assisting Him on earth. You might think you’re doing a grand job watching over them full time, and perhaps you really are doing the best that you can. But as a limited human being, you can hardly be trusted with such an important duty as raising a child. It’s far too much for you to handle. Who is watching out for your children when you’re asleep or out of sight or taking a shower or traveling? If it weren’t for God’s constant attentiveness, your children would never survive infancy. God is the One who is really providing full time care.  He is the One who is watching over your children every second of their lives, holding their cells together, monitoring every breath, and guiding every step they take. He is the One soothing babies to sleep and hauling you out of bed in an emergency. You might buy a nightlight to chase away those scary shadows on the walls, but He is the One right in bed with them, making their teddy bear exude comfort with its frozen smile and whispering pleasant thoughts into their minds. God is the One cushioning the falls when those tottering legs collapse a zillion times, He’s really the One who is teaching them how to walk while you just hold your arms out with an encouraging smile. Your smile is great, and your praises are wonderful—but let’s not minimize who is doing 99% of the work here. Yes you feed them, but who gives you the food and energy to do so? God does. Yes, you tuck them in at night. But who gave you the resources to buy the soft bed and who is keeping the house standing and the windows from leaking on rainy days? God is contributing infinitely more to this child-raising task than you are, yet you tell Him to please remember your children? You ask Him to be with them? Where do you think He is if He isn’t with them? God is ALWAYS with your children. He never abandons the works of His hands.
Now before you get too distressed, let’s acknowledge how horribly prayer is presented in the Church today. We are brainwashed into using prayer as a means for ordering God about. We are endlessly taught that it is good and proper to speak to God in such disrespectful ways. We are taught that it is some great mark of faith to sit around making requests that demonstrate we have no faith at all in God’s wisdom, care and love. We’re taught that God finds it pleasing to have His children constantly ask Him for things that He has already given them. Well, no, He doesn’t find this pleasing at all. He finds it frustrating and tiresome. But you can choose to be different. You can choose to be the kind of parent who really blesses God’s heart by the way that you talk to Him about the children He has temporarily placed in your care.
“God, I know You’re always doing what is best for my kids. Where would I be without You? I’m so thankful that You’re always here, guiding both me and them through this life.”
“You know I keep worrying about the tough time they’re having in school. But I also know that You have this situation under control. I’m listening for Your wisdom each day—help me to be the best listener that I can. Help me to recognize Your Voice and swiftly accept Your wisdom. Help me to have total confidence in You.”
“I’m such an imperfect parent, but You are perfect in every way. You redeem my mistakes, You bring good out of evil. Thank You for being so amazing. I love You so much.”
“I know we both want my kids to be saved, but I also know You want them to make that decision of their own free will. Help me to stay in alignment with You and not try and take away their freedom to choose. As for me, I’ve made my decision. You are my God and I want You to have Your total way in my life. I want to please You as much as I possibly can.”
Do you hear what a difference there is between this set of prayers and the ones we started with? Before we were just giving God a list of orders and making a bunch of insulting inferences about the rotten job He was doing. In this second set, we are communing with Him, praising Him, and cherishing His Presence in our lives. This second set of prayers is the kind that really bless God’s heart, and you can choose to start praying this way from now on. When it comes to your kids, turn your requests into statements of confidence. When it comes to your own walk with God, cherish His involvement in your life.
God understands how you’ve been taught and He sees into your heart. If you’ve never been exposed to teaching like this, it can be very distressing to realize that you’ve been unintentionally offending God. But He knows when you are trying to do right, even if you’ve been taught the wrong way to go about it. Don’t get stuck in needless guilt. Instead, ask God to help you improve the way that you talk to Him and focus on making positive changes. When you change the way that you pray, it will change the way you view your whole life. But we have to make the right kinds of changes—not greedily demanding big blessings from God as so many teach, but seeking to honor Him with our choice of words and expressions of faith.

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