As a Christian parent, my greatest desire is for my children to trust and follow Jesus. I want good things for them, but the world is full of frightening possibilities that threaten my kids’ faith and future.
Maybe like me, you find yourself overwhelmed with concern for your kids and you just don’t know where to start when it comes to prayer.
For centuries Christians have written prayers and used the prayers of others as a guide. Even the first disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, and Jesus gave them what we call The Lord’s Prayer.
Sometimes we need inspiration to know how to pray. That’s why I wrote this. I hope this post will inspire and help you talk to God about your kids and the anxieties you carry for them.
Scriptures to pray over your children
Prayer is a conversation with God. When we use our Bibles to pray, God talks first, we listen and respond. If we make a practice of talking to God about what we read in our Bibles, we’ll have plenty of help with what to pray for our kids.
Here are 8 Bible verses and prayers to use as a starting place.
Prayer for your children’s protection
I am guilty of wishing I could raise my kids in a bubble.
Drugs, alcohol, sexual perversions, greed, love of money, abusive people… the options for destruction surround my kids like a pack of wolves. How should I pray?
The famous bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” may sound childish, but the truth is, the Lord is the one who keeps our kids’ souls. He is our hope for their protection.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- whom shall I dread? Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid; though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident.”
Psalm 27:4 CSB
Pray like this:
Prayer for a child in crisis
When we get bad news about our child, or they experience trauma or loss, the overwhelming sense of helplessness is paralyzing. We want our kids to be strong and courageous, but when fear breathes down our necks we too need the anchoring truth of who God is to help us pray.
“God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil.” -Psalm 46:1-3 CSB
Pray like this:
Prayer for children’s health
God has not promised our kids health. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.(John 16:33)” But Jesus also fulfilled the prophecy that says, “…he himself bore our sicknesses…” (Isaiah 53:4) Though our children may not be healed of mental or physical maladies, we can pray they will trust the Christ who bore their brokenness in his own body, and can raise them to new life.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will have life even if he dies. And he who lives and believes in me will never die. Martha, do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
Pray like this:
Praying for a rebellious child or teenager
Next to the death of a child, watching a son or daughter rebel against your guidance, and especially against Christ, is heart-wrenching.
In Psalm 51, David writes a broken-hearted prayer of repentance after his sin was exposed. It was only after recognizing his own sin that he was able to teach others to turn to God. In our prayers for our children we must seek God’s wisdom to discern where our own confession of sin and repentance is needed to help our kids return to obedience.
“Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious your ways, and sinners will return to you.” -Psalm 51:12-13
Pray like this:
Prayer for your child’s future
God knit our children together, weaving their personality, talents and number of days like a master tapestry, before their first cry. We can pray with confidence in the goodness of the God who holds their future in his hands.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it…For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:7,11
Pray like this:
Prayers for your child’s success
Because God’s thoughts are not like ours, the way we and our kids measure success may leave us with an insatiable thirst for more. We want our child’s ideas of success to grow out of God’s thoughts, not their own. Whatever our children set out to do, we want them to be motivated by a desire to glorify God.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 CSB
Pray like this:
Prayers for teenage relationships
Next to the “terrible twos,” the teenage years have the most notorious reputation for trouble.
Teens live in a tension between playful childhood and adult expectations. The fact that teenage relationships are between two immature and broken people means there will inevitably be trouble. We can’t keep our kids from this kind of suffering, but we can pray that in their relationships they will learn to love others well.
“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 CSB
Pray like this:
Prayers for my daughter or son to come home
The goal of parenting is to launch our children out into the world equipped to follow Jesus. We want this to be a deliberate and happy launch. We don’t want anger, shame, and lust for the world to drive our kids away from home. When a child leaves home in rebellion, the desire for them to come home is a desire for reconciled relationships. Like the Father in the prodigal son story, we must look for restoration. Praying is how we watch for the day when God brings our child back to a right relationship with us and him.
“So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. – Luke 15:20 CSB
Pray like this:
Never Stop Praying
As our kids grow through the various stages of life we must never stop praying for them. Using these 8 verses and prayers we can begin praying with confidence in what God says. The Holy Spirit will help us when we’re weak and don’t know what to pray.
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23)
And click here to get free printables of these 8 scriptures and prayers. And here for an editable word document of the same.
Today at church we sang, “O come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.”
As we sang, years of hard marriage and longings for good things I don’t have filled my eyes with burning tears. And a gentle voice asked my soul, “Is Jesus worth it? Is his blood really precious to you?” Tears broke over the dam of my resistant eyelids. “Yes, yes he is worth it. Yes his life spilled out for me is precious beyond measure. And yes I’ll lay down all that I long for and take your outstretched hand.”
Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Relationship with anyone is hard. Life brings pain and suffering. Attempts to escape end up being our chains. And in all our efforts as Christians to follow Christ, the question is, is Jesus worth it?
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And what is that purpose? Romans 8:29 answers. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
God’s purpose for his people is to conform us to the image of his Son. God’s purpose for my life is to make me like Jesus. He may or may not attain that purpose through all the good things I long for. But God is going to use all the hard things in my life to make me more like Jesus. The question is, is that what I want? Do I want to be made like Jesus more than anything else.
If my husband never bends his knee to Jesus. If my sons never speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. If my home is never filled with songs and laughter. If my job continues to be hard and drain me of energy. If the ministry I lead never flourishes the way I dream it will. If I never get to do the things I long to do, but God makes me like Christ, is that enough for me?
1 Peter 1: 13-21 calls us to sober up because so often we’re intoxicated with ideas that aren’t reality. The truth of the Christian life is not that God is going to give you your best life now. The truth of the Christian life is that God is going to make you like Jesus. Whatever it takes! And so the question is, is the “precious blood of Christ” that has purchased my life and set me on a course of promised redemption- the final end being made like Jesus; it that worth it?
I want so badly to stand next to my husband on a Sunday morning and hear him sing praises to God with me. I so badly want my sons to walk with Jesus and experience his deep love for them. I so badly want to be fruitful in ministry and see my friends hope in Jesus with me. But if they don’t and if I spend my life loving them well, is Jesus worth it?
I’ve never seen this Jesus, but compelled by his love I cry, “Yes! Yes he’s worth it! Jesus is worth my life!” So, even if my life is grieved by longings unfulfilled, Jesus is worth spending my life loving these I long for well. To be like him eclipses all other longings. With Job I cry:
Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.[b] And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! – Job 19:23-27
And with the Psalmist I preach to myself:
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. – Psalm 17:15
It’s 110 degrees
there’s a significant wind moving the leaves
of our sissoos and elms.
From the window outside looks inviting
I’m tired of being inside
tired of air conditioning and my couch
I want to feel some heat, some breeze
that’s what I want
I’ll go get a watermelon
“I’m going to the store for watermelon!” I shout to my husband
laying on the couch watching videos of mountain biking
“That’s all? Watermelon?” my husband questions the necessity of the trip
“I’ve got my mask. I’ll be quick”
and off I went.
I found myself wondering the isles, not being quick
watching people, some masked, others not.
Going to the store wasn’t like this last year
Melon and some popcorn, I check out
a Plexiglas shield between me and my masked cashier
“What are you doing for the 4th, honey?” she asked,
It struck me funny she called me honey
she could have been my daughter
“Just trying to stay safe, you know” I pointed to my mask
“Me too. I wish I could just stay home” she confessed
“I’m sorry dear. I pray you’ll stay safe.”
“Thanks! Happy 4th!”
I was tired of being inside
she just wanted to go home.
Home again I wash my hands
and the fruit
and cut into that idealistic melon.
Small red triangles dotted with black seeds
fill my bowl.
but I don’t want to stay inside.
so I walk to the nearest patch of shade in the yard
the stinging invisible rays burning enough
to make me a little uncomfortable.
I brought the rinds from the watermelon
to our goats and chickens
who I found hunkering down, panting in the shade of our aluminum corral
I set the green and red rinds down in their troughs and watched them
get up from their spots
They seemed to enjoy the cold, crunchy shell of the melon
pecking and chomping
A neighbor down the alley has started up
the mariachi band that usually plays on Saturday nights
I listen for a bit
Mariachi always sounds like happy children playing in the yard to me
dancing and laughing and chasing each other
There will be no fireworks in town tonight
a young cashier will be calling strangers “honey” from behind Plexiglas
a Latino family down the alley will play mariachi
my friends will fight off panic in the hospital
a woman will grieve that Covid took her love
a daughter will weep that it took her mom
a stranger will call a nurses station hoping for good news
and when the sun to goes down
I’ll sit on the porch and watch the sky
Honestly I’m angry. It’s 10 pm and I just made myself shut off my phone.
What I read on Twitter tonight has me writhing in anger! I see people loosing their grip on their wealth and spinning the elderly and vulnerable as worthy martyrs on behalf of the American dream.
It makes me want to puke! Puking probably won’t help anything. But learning how to breathe like a Christian during this pandemic will.
Just today I was thinking about the tension between being joyful as a Christian and lamenting. Right now I mostly want to lament. I want to be angry at the injustice and evil I see. I want to weep over the anxieties I feel. But I also feel a sense of hope, anticipation and actual joy about the redemption Jesus is working through this dark time in history.
After scrolling through tweets tonight, finding myself scowling and scrunching my shoulders, holding my breath and slamming utensils in anger, I realized I needed to stop and breathe and cast my cares on the God who defends the widow and fatherless and redeems my life.
There’s a healthy pattern in the Psalms for a practice of living with the tension between joy and sorrow, anger and hope.
The Psalms are like breathing. Breathing like a sojourner in a foreign land. Breathing like a child of God.
We exhale, “How long?” And, “Why have you forgotten?” And, “Contend, O Lord!” and we cry.
He gathers our tears and bears us up continually (Psalm 68:19).
Then we inhale, “Trust in the Lord!” And, “You are my help and my deliverer!” Breathing in the hope of his promise.
He leads us on, in that “long obedience in the same direction” (Peterson), through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), all the way home.
There is much to lament. And there is also much good to anticipate. Our Redeemer lives! And while I weep and I cannot tritely say, “Look at how happy I am because I’m a Christian, even while the world burns.” I can, weathered and worn, laugh at the days to come.
I can breathe out my complaints to the One who takes vengeance, and I can inhale his unspeakable peace.
Tonight after 13 hours at the hospital, I walked out my back door with my dog Lukas, and we made our way, as usual, the half acre back to where the chickens and goats were already roosting and chewing their cud under the stars. While I was filling up their empty water buckets, despising the fact that it’s still 95 degrees at 9 pm (this summer seems like it will never end), I found my thoughts drifting toward hopelessness.
“How long?” was turning into, “It’s never going to happen.” At that moment I remembered Joseph. I wondered if he felt like it was never going to happen that he would be lifted up and his brothers would bow to him. I wonder if he thought it would never happen that he would get out of prison.
And then I remembered that it did happen. And I remembered that Jesus did raise from the dead. And I remembered that redemption always happens for the people of God. Nothing is for nothing in Christ. Christ is redeeming all my pain, all my loss, all my long days and short years. Christ is redeeming what seems like will never happen.
For 26 years I’ve prayed and pleaded with God to give my husband a heart for Jesus. And for 16 years I’ve pleaded he would give my sons a heart for him too. Two years ago, my youngest son professed his faith in Christ and was baptized. A week ago Sunday my oldest son confessed his faith, and on the eighth, I’ll baptize him. Like the first little buds of spring after a long winter, or the first fresh breeze of fall after the dog days of summer, redemption is busting up out of this long tear-soaked ground. Redemption is coming!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy – Psalm 103:1-2
Growing up in Roseburg, Oregon in 1989, all the cool kids shopped at the Gap store in Eugene. It’s an hour drive. And on some weekends, when I got to go shopping with my friends we would all plan to shop at the Gap and eat at Cinnabon. The aroma of those heavy, buttery, sweet cinnamon rolls was intoxicating then, and it still is. There really is no comparison to Cinnabon for me. I’ve tasted and I’ve seen that Cinnabon is good and there is no other cinnamon roll that will do.
That level of craving, of tasting Cinnabons and wanting more does not compare to the taste of and craving for the goodness of Jesus. I know it feels like a drop off doesn’t it. We all know the intoxicating taste of hot, melting-with-butter-and-frosting cinnamon rolls, but Jesus? How do you taste and crave Jesus?
The Bible calls us to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8) The only way we can taste and see the goodness of the Lord is to be feeding on his word (1 Peter 2:2), joining our lives with his people (1 John 1:3), and praying fervently as we go (Psalm 69:13). And if I’m sensing my own condition and the state of many in my life correctly we’ve lost our appetite for tasting the goodness of the Lord Jesus this way.
There are times I need to push reset on my eating habbits. I need to eat clean so I can enjoy the goodnes of good things once again. When I’ve been indulging in junk food and fast food my body feels it, and I have a diminished desire for what’s actually good for me and want to eat more french fries. I’ve found my relationship with Christ to be similar. Sometimes I need to intentionally stop filling my mind with podcasts, music, my favorite movies, or busying myself with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and reading blogs or books, and fill the empty, uncomfortable space I find when I do that with God’s word and prayer. That’s the only way I can cleanse my spiritual pallete. It’s the only way I can grow my appetite and affections for Jesus.
Today in a leadership meeting at my church we talked about the need to return to our first love Jesus, to return to fervent and effective prayer, to remember the gospel and stir our affections for Jesus and all he’s done for us. It hit me that I have to repent often of not valuing what Jesus has done, and valuing something else in his place. The barrier keeping me from passionate love of God and others, fervent prayer and a worshipful heart is my constant and often unconscious tendency to think, “Yeah, Jesus is great, but I want ____________.” I’ve filled that blank with so many things over the years. They’ve all dulled my appetite for God’s word and the goodness of the Lord.
Do you have a craving for knowing Jesus more? For being with him, going where he’s going, being made like him? Do you find like me that you’re often lacking in desire or appetite for Jesus and sort of, “meh” the thought of him? Join me in repenting. Join me in turning away from the things that have dulled our appetites for Jesus. And join me in returning to a steady diet of God’s word and prayer to regain a craving for God that’s fitting. Surely he is even more wonderful than a Cinnabon.
A return to feeding on the word of God, praying as we read, talking and listening, casting cares and asking questions, chewing like cud again and again what God has revealed to us of himself in Jesus through the Bible and his church is the hard reset button we need to push on our spiritual diet.
C.S. Lewis described our condition this way:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – The Weight of Glory
Lord, forgive me for dulling my appetite for you with “mud pies.” Thank you for your mercy and grace provided me in Christ. I want to crave you more than Cinnabon, more than spacing out, or vegging out, or detaching, or escaping, or wine, or chocolate, or surfing social media, or anything. I want to love you with all my heart and love my neighbor as myself. Let me taste and see that you’re good again and again!