Seven Things to Pray for Your Children

Prayer (2)I first began to pray for my children in 1980 at the age of sixteen. At first I wasn’t sure what to pray, but over time my prayers became progressively more focused; especially after my son was born. Thirty-two years later I can clearly see the abundant return of all those hours spent on my knees praying for him. I am still praying today that God will continue working in him until he attains “to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4.13).

I would encourage you today to begin praying for your children, even if you are years away from starting a family. Here is a post by Jon Bloom that will assist you in beginning to pray for your children. Please remember, your prayers are most effective when they are an overflow of your lifestyle. The greatest witness to your children is you, so live out your prayers for them to see and follow.

Bloom writes:

So, here are seven helpful, specific things to pray for your children:

1. That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming.

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13–15)

2. That they will respond in faith to Jesus’s faithful, persistent call.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

3. That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

4. That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

5. That their thoughts will be pure.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

6. That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work.

All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord. (Exodus 35:29)

7. That when the time is right, they will GO!

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

7 Things a Pastor’s Kid Needs from a Father

Here is a great post by Barnabas Piper:

Pastors, your position is a demanding one, and those demands bring unique struggles on your family. A pastor’s wife bears a great burden, but she usually enters into the ministry willingly. A pastor’s children, though, are carried on the current of their parents’ calling. It is often a life of singular struggle and uncommon needs. These struggles often stem from the failures of the father. This isn’t to cast full blame on pastors for their children’s problems. But it is to say that pastors need to work to be good dads.

My own father has worked hard at this. He had his blind spots and weaknesses, and they have been a source of tension between him and me. But to this day, in his 33rd and last year of pastoral ministry, he has never stopped trying to be a better father. As I wrote this I thought of his failures, yes, but I also thought of successes. Lots of them. I also thought of dozens of conversations with fellow PKs about such struggles and their own relationships with their fathers. So know that my writing does not stem from bitterness of heart or some jaded desire to expose a good man’s faults. I love my dad. My desire is to see struggles avoided or defeated for other pastors and PKs.

So here are seven of the most significant ways a pastor can be a good father to his children. Pastors, your child needs . . .

1. A dad, not a pastor

Yes, you are called to pastor your family, but PKs want a dad–someone who plays with them, protects them, makes them laugh, loves their mom, gives hugs, pays attention, teaches them how to build a budget and change the oil and field a ground ball. We want committed love and warmth. We want a dad who’s not a workaholic. It’s hypocritical to call your congregation to a life of love, sacrifice, and passionate gospel living while neglecting your own family. If a mortgage broker or salesman works too much at 60 hours a week, so do you. Leave work and be present for your kids. Your children will spit on your pastoring if they miss out on your fathering.

2) Conversation, not sermons

Sermons are an effective way to communicate biblical truth to a congregation, but not to your kids (or wife). Preaching at your children will stunt their view of Scripture, dull their interest, and squelch what passion you are trying to stir. Speak TO your children about the Bible in a way that’s interesting, applicable, and conversational. Help them see the Bible as a normal part of life. Rather than teach lessons, imbue your conversation with biblical worldview to help your children shape their life lenses. That way they’ll think they, too, can interact with this important book. Sermons at home separate them from the Word by implying that only the learned can understand it.

3) Your interest in their hobbies

Jonathan Edwards may be your homeboy or Seth Godin your muse, but your first-grade daughter doesn’t give a flip. Her love language is playing Barbies and dancing to Taylor Swift. Your son wants to build a Lego fort, beat you soundly at Modern Warfare on Xbox, or learn how to run a 10-yard out pattern. Your hobbies are yours alone, but engaging your children’s interests speaks love that matters deeply to them.

4) To be studied

It gets harder to share time with kids as they get older. So study them as hard as you study your Greek lexicon. They’re more important, anyway. Would your high school son appreciate going out to pizza with you or chilling on the couch and watching college football on a Saturday afternoon? Does your teenage daughter want you to take her shopping or to coffee? Maybe they don’t want recreation but just help–so talk through their friend challenges or algebra problems, whichever are the most pressing. LEARN these things, even if it seems like there are no right answers. Teenagers are hard; they treat parents like idiots all the time. But these acts, when done consistently, add up. Make them a pattern so that when your kids are done thinking you are a moron they have a path to walk with you.

5) Consistency from you

No one can call hypocrisy on you faster than your kids (and wife), and nothing will undermine you in the home faster. If you stand in the pulpit on Sunday and talk about grace after spending Friday and Saturday griping at your family, grace looks awfully cheap and unappealing to your son in the second row. If, however, you treat your son as if you need his grace and forgiveness for your crappy attitude, it may open a door to God’s grace. (And use phrases like “crappy attitude”; it sounds more like you actually know what you’re apologizing for.)

If you act like the great shepherd in the pulpit but the hired hand who runs away at home, your children will see church and all it entails as phony because you are phony. If you encourage a life of joy but are morose or exhort your people toward a life of sacrifice but are lazy and spendthrifty, nobody will notice faster than those in your home. To your family, your interactions with God and them are far more important than your Sunday sermons.

6) Grace to fail

Pastors speak much about grace. It is the basis of our salvation and the source of hope. But when the rubber meets the road, do you offer enough of it to your children? PKs feel enormous pressure to be “good” and to be confident in all things biblical. But we are often not good and often lack confidence in biblical realities. We sin and doubt like everyone else, but when we do, the road to restoration and peace often feels like an impossible one to travel. Are we allowed the same grace to fail and to doubt (assuming you preach grace to your congregation)?

7) A single moral standard

One of the graces PKs need is a single moral standard. Too many PKs feel the pressure of their fathers’ priestly profession in our moral lives. The pastor and elder qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus feel like a threat: “If you screw up, your father not only looks bad, he will be out of a job.” But those standards are the same ones that every Christian should be held to (other than the ability to teach). Nobody else’s dad is at risk of being unemployed if his kid is rebellious, but mine is. The additional pressure to be morally upstanding does not help my heart. It creates a convoluted soul environment in which temptation to rebel and temptation to be a hypocrite battle the desire to honor Jesus and my dad.

You have heard that it was said PKs should be holier than their peers, and their parents should raise them better, but Jesus says to us all, “Be holy for I am holy.” So it should be.

Barnabas Piper works in marketing and acquisitions at Moody Publishers in Chicago. He is the son of John Piper. Source: The Gospel Coalition.

Child-like Faith

And Jesus said,
“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child
shall not enter it.” (Mark 10.15 ESV)

A few weeks ago we were watching a story on the evening news about a
car that had hit a motorcycle.  The motorcycle was on fire, and its rider was trapped under the car.  The flames were consuming the bike and had spread to the engine of the car, and yet, people were desperately trying to get the young man out from under the car, thus putting their own lives in danger. Dozens of people rushed to the car, lifted it up so that another man could pull the injured rider to safety, set the car down, and backed away from the dangerous fire.  It was an act of selfless heroism.

 As I sat in my recliner watching this unfold I just kept saying, “That is unbelievable!  In today’s world you just don’t expect people to react like that.” I was truly pleasantly surprised that people would rally together, put their lives in jeopardy, and then do what was necessary to save someone else’s life.  No sooner had the words left my mouth when my seven-year-old son said, “Dad, isn’t it great that God sent all those people to help that man!”  Needless to say, I now was speechless.  Child-like faith has a way of putting things into perspective.

 In Mark 10:15, Jesus tells us to enter His Kingdom we need child-like faith.  Children believe what we tell them.  The Bible says God is gracious, merciful, kind, loving, generous, our defender, supplier, and meets all our needs.  In spite of this, adults tend to get caught up looking at the problem instead of the problem solver.  We end up focusing on the seen rather than unseen.  We walk by sight rather than by faith.  Children do not have that problem–they simply believe what they are taught and walk by pure faith.

 As you go about your day, keep your eyes of faith open to see the wonders which God is working all around you. You never know, it might be your hands that God uses to rescue someone from perishing.

To Any Daddy

There are little eyes upon you, and they’re watching night and day,

There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say;

There are little hands all eager to do everything you do,

And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.

You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise;

In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise;

He believes in you devoutly, holds that all you say and do

He will say and do in your way when he’s grown up like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right,

And his ears are always open and he watches day and night,

You are setting an example every day in all you do,

For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be like you.

Source: Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes, pg 203

A Father’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, can you forgive me for hurting my children?

I came from a poor background so I thought that a big house would make my children feel important. I didn’t realize that all it takes is my love.

I thought money would bring them happiness, but all it did was make them think that things were more important than people.

I thought spanking them would make them tough so that they could defend themselves. All it did was stop me from seeking wisdom so that I could discipline and teach them.

I thought that leaving them alone would make them independent. All it did was force my one son to be the father to my second son.

I thought that by smoothing over all of the family problems I was keeping peace. All I was teaching them was to run rather than lead.

I thought that by pretending to be the perfect family in public that I was bringing them respectability. All I was teaching them was to live a lie and keep the secret.

I thought that all I had to do to be a father was make money, stay at home and supply all their material needs. All I taught them was that there is more to being a dad. The problem is they will have to guess what being a dad really is.

And Dear God,

I hope you can read this prayer. My tears have smudged a lot of words.

From “Stories for the Heart” by Alice Gray (Multnomah, 169).

The Hope of Parents for Their Children

As a parent my greatest desire is to see my son grow up loving, honoring, and serving the Lord. We read the Bible and pray together almost every night. We take him to church a couple of times a week. We try to explain to him that the way we treat others is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. We want him to understand the difference between cultural morality and living out the Christian life. We want to teach him that his life is to be lived as a demonstration of his love for God.

We are prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom to raise our son up in the ways of the Lord; however, there is no guarantee he will obey or continue in these teachings. As a pastor I have seen too many parents broken because of the choices of their children. They were godly parents and yet somewhere along the way their children departed from the godly path.

Because of this, parents often ask me about Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” They feel like they held up their end by raising the child the right way,  but now that same son or daughter wants nothing to do with God, Jesus, or the church. These parents just want to know what they did wrong or if there is anything they can do to fix the situation.

This morning I found a few insightful thoughts on D.A. Carson’s blog in regard to this verse. Dr. Carson writes: “The proverb ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it’ (Prov. 22:6) is so well known that it cries out for comment. Recall that a proverb is neither case law nor unqualified promise (review meditation for March 23). When children go wrong, very often the careful observer can spot familial reasons that have contributed to the rebellion. But this is not always the case. Sometimes young people from evidently wonderful families kick the traces. Some return years later; some never do. Good families may produce prodigal sons. This proverb must not be treated as if it were a promise that fails periodically. Rather, it is a proverb: it tells how God has structured reality, and what we should do to conform to it. This is the principle of how families work; it includes no footnotes and mentions no exceptions.”

As parents we are going to make mistakes in raising our children. However, if we strive to honor God in the raising of our kids, if we set the Word, the commands, and ways of God before them, and if we try to be a living example of all we teach then we can rest knowing that we did our best. There comes a time when our kids must choose which path they will take. Yes it is heartbreaking when they make terrible choices, but as their parents we will still have opportunities to use our authority to influence them in the right direction. But in the end they must choose which path of life to follow.

Regardless of the age of our kids, there are few ways we can continue to train them up in the ways of the Lord. First, pray for them. Pray for their wisdom, holiness, and even conviction of sin. We can also lovingly and gently offer advice. If they are receptive, sit down with them and share your concerns. And finally, love them. My past is littered with mistakes the I believe greatly disappointed my parents; however, I always knew they loved me. It was their reflecting the unconditional love of God that helped lead me to repentance and a godly Christ-like life.

So parents do your part in putting children on the right course. Then entrust them into the hands of God knowing that He will never give up on drawing them to Himself.

A Jesus Storybook for Teaching Children

One of the greatest challenges as a parent is finding just the right Bible to use in teaching our children about God’s love. Many of the books out there tend to make the Bible sound like a mythical fairytale, while others are nothing but a rule book to follow so God will love you. Sitting down together as a family to study the Bible, discuss the lesson, and then pray together is one of the most important things we can do as… Continue reading