My three year old daughter screamed, “No!” and yanked her hand away from me in the middle of the Costco parking lot. I calmly reminded her that for her safety, she was required to hold my hand in the parking lot. She adamantly refused, with tears and shouts and hitting, creating a scene that left people staring as they walked by for 20 minutes.
I could talk a lot about the parenting lessons I learned from that day, maybe I will share that in another post, but for this post, I am going to talk about praying specific, scripturally based prayers for your kids.
Something that was very apparent to me that day in the Costco parking lot was that while she was displaying her anger outwardly, I had that same anger inwardly. I was steaming hot with anger!! I just knew how to control that anger so that I could respond in an appropriate way and not have CPS called on me!
As my kids have grown, I have loved watching traits from both Phillip and I emerge within their personalities, but alongside the good traits, there are the not so good traits that emerge as well. Yuck! There’s nothing quite like seeing something you don’t like about yourself displayed within your child. That was what happened that day at Costco for me.
I came home that day knowing that anger was going to be a loud trait within my daughter. I could do all of the parenting things in the book to help her through her anger but my best weapon was prayer. I needed to enlist the help of the perfect parent, our Father in heaven.
Last week, I wrote about praying big picture prayers for your children. Those prayers are vital for the lives of our kids, but praying specifically for what they are going through at the time is just as vital. But how do we pray specifically?
There are certainly many ways to pray specifically for your children, but one that I have found to be essential and the most effective is praying God’s Word over my kids. When my child is going through something, or I see a trait come out in them that has the potential to be negative, I go to God’s Word for help and direction.
Ephesians 6 tells us that as part of the armor of God, we have the sword of the Spirit. What is the sword of the Spirit? God’s Word. When Jesus was here on earth, he quoted scripture often. Matthew 4 is an example of that and tells us of when Satan tempted Jesus three different times when Jesus was alone in the desert. Jesus didn’t fight back with a literal sword, he fought back with the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word. As I’ve said before, if Jesus is doing it, then I want to do it too!
Here are some specific scriptures and prayers that I have prayed for my kids based on topics. I hope these will be thought provoking for you and cause you to turn to God’s Word to be used as a weapon in the fight for the spiritual life of your children.
Lying – We recognized that one of our kids was starting a pattern of lying. We certainly were not impressed by the behavior but were more concerned with the heart behind it. I asked my mentor about it and she immediately pointed me to Proverbs 12:22, “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.” From that scripture, we often pray, “Lord, may our child have the desire to live a life that is delightful to you. Cause our child to recognize that being a truth teller is a way to worship you and that although lying may seem like the easier option, truth telling is the better way.”
Anxiety – We have one child who leans on the side of being anxious about certain things. Knowing the detrimental effects that anxiety can play in your life, we are actively praying against anxiety in the life of our children. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” From that scripture, we often pray, “Lord, we know that anxiety is not of you or from you. Cause our child to willingly place their burdens in your capable hands. May they bring everything to you, fully trusting that you will care for them. Lord, may they find peace in you.”
Anger – As mentioned earlier, my kids get their anger honestly. I can have patience for a long time and then my anger will boil over. Thankfully, God has graciously been working on me in this area for years. I still have to battle against it but I can clearly see how he has been refining me over the years. James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” From that scripture, I often pray something like this, “God, this area is a hard one for me, but I see you continuing to do work on me. God, I see anger being an area of struggle for my children. Cause them to be slow to speak and slow to become angry. May they be avid listeners and choose their words wisely before they speak. May they be characterized by righteousness, not anger.”
Self seeking – It’s no secret that every human being on earth has a selfish nature. Since the Fall, selfishness is rooted deep within our souls. We want the best for ourselves. Phillip and I see selfishness in ourselves and in each of our kids, however, one of our children in particular will do whatever it takes to come out on top. We saw that tendency early and although God is making significant progress in this area, selfishness still rears its ugly head often. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” From that scripture, we pray, “Lord, we see selfishness reigning in the life of our child. Father, do your work within their heart to cause them to grow in humility, valuing others above themselves. May the reason for them doing anything be to bring you glory, not to bring themselves glory. May their eyes and hearts be open to seeing how they can have a heart of service to others, not a heart of selfishness.”
Siblings – For the majority of the time, all four of our kiddos get along pretty well, but sometimes, like all siblings, they butt heads. This was particularly true this past year as we were all together so much. Psalms 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers (siblings) live together in unity.” From that scripture, we often pray, “God, help us!” Just kidding, we pray something like, “God, our home is so pleasant when the kids are getting along. Cause them to recognize that! May they see how enjoyable spending time together is when they are actually getting along. Lord, root out the selfishness within their hearts that often causes the arguments between them. As they grow into teenagers and even into adulthood, may there be unity among them all.”
Half- jobs – Anyone else have kids that do half-jobs?! We ask them to clean something up and they do it partially but get distracted and don’t complete it? Or they do the minimal amount. That happens a lot in our home. We are really pressing into the idea of “half-jobs,” as we call them, and are looking forward to how God is going to grow our kids in this area. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” We do not expect our kids to be THE best, but we do expect that they will do THEIR best. If they have the mindset that whatever they are doing, they are doing it for the Lord, then they will offer their best effort. From this scripture, we pray, “Lord, we know that you accept us just as we are, but Lord, we want to give you our best. May our children have the mindset that whatever they are doing, whether big or small, they can honor you by putting forth their best effort, as if working for you.”
The thing about all of these scriptures is that we can use them in the life of our kids, but also in our own lives as well. For example, I don’t only pray about being slow to anger for my kids, I pray that for myself! Any place in prayer that I say “my child,” I can also insert “myself” into that prayer. We can use God’s Word in the prayers we lift up on behalf of ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our friends, our parents, our church, our nation, humanity and beyond. When we pray the scriptures, we use God’s words to express our heart, which is delightful to His ears.
Here are a few more to get your mind going. I encourage you to use some of these as a guide to get you started in using God’s Word as the framework for your prayers.
Inner beauty – 1 Peter 3:3-4
Self control- Galatians 5:22-25
A manly man – Joshua 1:9, 1 Kings 15:5
Heart adoration – Psalms 146:2
Wisdom and favor – Luke 2:52
Listening to the Spirit – 1 Samuel 3:1-10
Being an example – 1 Timothy 4:12
Understanding God’s love – Ephesians 3:16-19
Blessings over your children – Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 13:14, 2 Samuel 2:6, Numbers 6:24-26
Discernment – 1 Corinthians 6:12
Body image – 1 Corinthians 6:19
God, your word is the sword of the Spirit, may we use it often in our prayer life.