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)

I’m Going to be a Dad?

In my office, on the wall above my computer monitor, is a present my wife gave me for Father’s Day 2005. It is a picture frame with thirteen pictures of me and William. It starts with a picture of me holding him the day he was born and is followed by another picture taken on the same day each month. The final picture is, of course, me holding him on his first birthday. On my book shelves I have several other pictures of him—graduating preschool, his school photos from kindergarten, first, and second grade.  In just a few seconds, I can see all seven years of his life.

Sometimes I just can’t think or study anymore, so I take a break to rest my weary mind. It is during those breaks that I recall all the wonderful memories I have had with William over the last seven years. I think about how much he has grown physically, all that he has learned educationally, and how he is maturing spiritually. Without a doubt, I am a proud father. I love my son with every ounce of my being, and I make sure he is confident of that love. I want him to know my love for him doesn’t change when I am frustrated at his disobedience, when I am disciplining him for his actions, and most especially when we are separated from one another. I want him to understand that my love is unconditional, and nothing—I mean nothing—will ever separate him from my love, ever.

Most of us have seen too many children literally fighting for the affections of their parents. When they do not get it, they go elsewhere in search of love and acceptance, and it is guaranteed they will find it somewhere. It was this thought which woke me up from a deep sleep shortly before William was born. I sat straight up in the bed with one thought racing through my mind, “What if I’m not a good dad?” I found myself gripped with fear and anxiety. What did I know about being a parent? I was thirty-nine years old and should be getting ready to be a grandpa not a dad! Needless to say, I wasn’t able to clear my mind or go back to sleep, so I quietly knelt down beside the bed so as to not wake my wife, and I began to pray.

That night, I prayed for everything. I prayed for my son’s health, protection, salvation, his spiritual calling, and even his future wife. I remember asking God to give him a heart that burns with a passion to live a godly life, tell others about Jesus, and meet the needs of the hurting. And then I prayed something I had never said before, “Father, I guess I’m asking you to give me a son like Jesus. A son who loves you, obeys you, seeks to glorify you in all he does.” To be honest, the words came out before I thought them through, so I stopped praying to contemplate what I had just asked for.

Up to that point, praying had eased my fear and anxiety; however, that last line had rekindled the fire of anxiety and put one thought in my fearful mind, “If he is to grow up like Jesus, he needs a father like Jesus’ Father, and I’m not GOD!” With that dark storm cloud of fear hovering over me I cried out, “God, please help me be a good dad!” Immediately a thought rushed into my mind, “Give him Jesus!” Give him the unconditional love of Christ, teach the commands of Christ, show him the love, grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness of Christ, and most of all, live the life of Christ as an example for him.

That dark night of the soul has become a bright beacon on days when I just don’t feel like I’m getting the job done. It is a bright lighthouse shining in the darkness—lighting the way for me to avoid the dangerous rocks of doubt and depression. It is a memory that reminds me that my son doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does his father! Why? Because Jesus is perfect and He is in control of our lives!

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.

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared with you how grateful I am for my LOBC church family.  Today, I want to talk about the two people who mean the world to me—my parents.

As far back as I can remember my parents have been teaching me about Jesus. Every evening we would turn off the T.V. and have a family time of Bible study and prayer.  They simply sat us down and read the Bible with my brother, sister, and I.  They made sure we understood that God’s love for us would never end and that He would meet all our needs.  After Bible study, we would say our prayers together.  My parents didn’t make us learn prayers that sounded all “churchy.”  They told us just to talk honestly to God sharing our needs, fears, concerns, but mostly to thank, praise, and worship Him.

Another lesson they taught me was responsibility.  I had chores that were my responsibility, and if I didn’t do them, they wouldn’t get done.  I was to complete my chores in the proper amount of time and with the right kind of attitude.  Trust me, it never paid to complain about my chores (I’ll let you figure out what happened when I complained).  My chores were also to be done to the best of my ability.  I was never allowed to do a job half-way.  In today’s standards all this may sound harsh, but they taught me lessons I am still applying today.  Everyday I try to do my best at my job; taking a sick day doesn’t happen unless I just can’t get out of bed.  I believe that my work is a direct reflection of my character, so I want everyone to know me by the work I do.  Besides, one of the Bible verses my parents taught me was Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it as to the Lord Jesus.”  If I am working for Him, He knows when I am slacking off!

I also learned about commitment from watching my parents.  They have been married for forty-eight years.  They made a commitment to God to love each other no matter what, and they have stuck with it.  They have had lots of difficulties throughout the years, but they never gave up.  Through financial struggles, sickness, family loss, crippling injuries, and even getting older they have managed to stay together and still love each other in spite of the difficulties.  Their commitment even stretched to them fulfilling a promise—they never backed out of a promise.  No matter how difficult, they always kept their word.

The greatest lesson I learned from my parents is to just be myself.  Mom and Dad never tried to act like someone they weren’t.  They have always been down-to-earth and were never ashamed of who they were.  They never looked down on others because they had less, nor did they envy others who had more.  They were always happy for those who were blessed with more and were willing to help those who had less.  They taught me that it is okay to be Bob Pittenger.

So today, I want to honor my mom and dad.  I am so thankful that in God’s divine plan He allowed me to be the son of Bob and Geri Pittenger!  Mom and Dad I love you and want to thank you for everything you have taught me over the years!