I was in an interesting discussion recently about praying for your children, especially when they are grown. Do we pray for their lives to keep going smoothly? That all is happy and peachy? What about if they seem to have no interest in GOD?
A few years back, I was challenged that it may not be wise to pray that all goes smoothly for them. What kind of people would they be if they never had to struggle? I don’t remember ever praying that my kids would have smooth lives. Of course, there is a part of me that would love that for them.
But there is another part of me that knows it would not be good for them. I don’t pray for misery for them either, but when trouble comes to them, I pray for GOD’s grace and mercy to be close to them. I pray that they will be aware of His presence with them. I pray that they will turn to Jesus for help,1` and hope sooner rather than later. I wasn’t always a good example of that.
But what about the child who isn’t following after GOD?
For the children who are not walking with GOD, it is often hard times that show them how much they need Him. That is when they realize they can’t do life on their own. They can’t control everything. They aren’t powerful enough. They need Someone outside of themselves to lean on who is stronger and more powerful.
How often can you look back on your life and see times of growth? Do you grow in spurts like I do? Each of my growth spurts came along with hard times. I wasn’t able to manage my walk on my own. I realized I was weak. I had to acknowledge I couldn’t do it all alone. I needed GOD’s help, often along with the help of others too!
Asking GOD to intervene in the way He chooses, in the lives of our children, is a scary prayer!
So if we have children who are blithely going along with no interest in GOD, we need to ask Him to intervene! We need to ask Him to show up in their lives in a way that will get their attention. It is a scary prayer for sure! But if He doesn’t show up, the end result for them is catastrophic! An eternity without Jesus will be wretched! There is no way to get around it. It will be more miserable than any short term misery they could experience here on earth.
So if some short term misery is what they need to come to their senses as happened to the Prodigal Son, so be it. We pray that for them because our long term prayer is for them to spend eternity with Christ, as well as to live out their days on earth knowing they have found peace with GOD. What our prayer for them is that they find their true selves reconciled to GOD and fulfilled in the creative ways only GOD can bring about.
“But when he came to himself, he said,
‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread,
but I perish here with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’
And he arose and came to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion,
and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him,
and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’
And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:17-24 ESV
As GOD answers our prayers for our children, He often brings us to the end of ourselves as well. We have to lay down our idols of caring what others think, of striving to please people over GOD, of seeking comfort over service, of…you can add your list of idols to the list.
I have watched families with struggling or rebel children over the years. It is so interesting to note that when change comes, it doesn’t just come to one person. The change comes to many in the family because GOD uses the issues that arise from the problem to ferret out those idols that we have been worshiping over time. As He opens our eyes to them, He often changes us before He changes the child. It is like the speck/log analogy mentioned in the verses below. We often have this log in our eye that is so huge, we can’t see the speck in the other person’s eye that we think is a log.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’
when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:41-42 ESV
Some of you reading this today are in grief over a child or grandchild who is not walking with GOD. Now is the time to realize you are powerless to change this situation. Apart from prayer, nothing is going to change. Even with prayer, the changes that happen may not be in the ways you want or even in the places you think are needed. Prayer is not like a vending machine. You put in the coins and make your order and out comes the drink you wanted.
But who are we going to with our requests? More on that next time.