As a mom of 4, I know just how much work parents put in to Scripturally "raise up a child in the way they should go." But trusting that they will not depart from that path is unbearably trying. To be honest (let's just get really real in this space, okay?), there are times my children accuse me of being a helicopter mom (surely you can hear the chopper blades from here!). Inevitably I try to take my hands off and watch them fly, then, just as inevitably, my hands go back on. Then off. Then on. You get the idea.
I always turn back to the encouraging verse of 2 Timothy 1:12, which says, "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day." I have faith that for their entire lives, I have entrusted my children into His hands. In order to steward and entrust the precious gift of their lives that I have been given, I must posture my heart to prayer. Our communications director, Caroline Arey, recently shared her prayers for her children, and I was moved to tears, as she put into words my own prayers for mine.
I wish my prayers for my children were as simple as choosing a “life verse” for them, assigning it thusly and praying it over and over them. It seems too simplistic and yet too overwhelming a task to choose a single passage to assign a child as his or her life goals. At the same time, I can’t help but feel the need for specific, clear, packaged prayers to guide the way I parent, and the way our children are nurtured through life. Especially now. Especially this generation. Though mothers and fathers of every decade before us have wrung their hands and shaken their heads at the deplorable state of the world we live in, right now… right now in this moment, there seems to be a thick haze of hopelessness, desperation, fear, distrust and violence that we can’t wipe away. And while my generation has probably been pandered to too much, I want to lift some of the weight off my children’s generation to be world changers. They may not change the world individually, but I hope my prayers shape them into people who are hopeful. Who are joyful. Who are smaller than the purpose for them and bigger than the oppression around them. This is what I pray. An Effervescent Joy – I pray for my children to have hearts that are joyful, unconditionally. I pray for their hearts to be so catching, so infectious, that the joy they radiate bubbles up the best in those around them. A Wise Discernment – I pray that they are equipped with a wisdom that reaches beyond their experience and their age… that equips them with a fair and critical discernment that rises above bitterness, pre-conceived notions and pain that experience typically packs within its wisdom. I pray that they have the ability to discern and judge crucially. An All-Consuming Kindess – Not a kindness that reveals itself in times of crisis. Not a kindness that is dependent on a hashtag. Not a kindness that burns brightest when others can see it, but a kindness that pervades their spirit. A kindness that is resolute and keeps their hearts soft and ready and eager to help the downtrodden, because it is nestled within their very cell structure. A Hardy Resilience – I pray that above their joy and above their kindness, my children will be resilient creatures. Able to withstand the inevitable storms and shifting foundations. I pray for a resilience that only adds a steely resolve to their soft hearts and hopeful minds. A resilience that keeps them from crumbling when met with strife. That empowers them to rise again. And again. And again. With vigor and strength and free of cynicism or resentment. A Heavy Burden – I pray that they already have seeds inside them that make their hearts feel a touch heavier. A burning desire and passion and purpose they feel no choice but to pursue. I want their hearts and souls to be light and free, yet weighted down by something so much bigger than themselves. I pray that they are doers, not just conversationalists who can list the plights of humanity, but activators who are aware and feel a pull to do. To change. To be. Brokenness – I’m thankful for a Holy Spirit that intercedes in my heart, because it’s rare that I can utter this prayer aloud on behalf of my children. I wish for them, brokenness. Not a flippant rejection from a romantic interest. Not a small envelope from their college of choice deferring them to a later round. An injury that propels them to be vulnerable and minister and encourage and display their resilience. A brokenness that gives the Master Planner a chance to refine the perfect structure He created within them. A crack that allows His radiance to shine more brightly than before. A knick that adds character, that doesn’t detract from their beauty. A Well-Constructed Rudder – I want to keep my children tucked against my wings for eternity. That is my perfect plan, but thankfully there is One who curates His children’s lives less selfishly than I do and who will, most assuredly, call them out upon the water. As they march their tiny, soldier selves into the action appointed them, I pray for rudders that are well-made, that will steer cleanly and purposefully through the swells ahead of and behind them. A Fierce and Familiar Love – And when they are knocked down, when they are their weakest, when they are most doubting, when they are afraid, when they are unsure, when they are too burdened, when they are broken, when they are weary of lifting their joy and their kindness forth, I pray, that they know, above all, a fierce and familiar love that is beating wildly inside of me for them. A father whose steadfast and unwavering love is beckoning them into his embrace. A maker whose love overwhelms even that and holds them resolutely in His grip. I pray for them to feel all around them, a boundless, burning love.