Monday, March 10, 2008

Praying for our children -- Part 2

I had intended to finish my thoughts in this area last week, and those days have already quickly come and gone. So, what I started on praying for our children last week, I will finish now.

Once I had chosen a chapter from the Bible for each child, and the topics throughout the chapter that would be the focus of my prayers for that child I at first just randomly prayed through them. But, as with all things, I needed more order in my prayer life as my time became more limited and my mind often more cluttered. My prayer time begins with a focus on God and who He is (Adoration), moves into a time of confession, continues with some thanksgiving, and concludes with supplication (for my children, my husband, and other people, situations, and ministries that God lays on my heart.) Because of the many thoughts racing through my brain at any given moment, and my forgetfulness despite the best intentions, I decided to make up a prayer calendar that I have maintained for at least 6 years now. The squares have grown more crowded as God has blessed us with more children, and names have changed as people have come into and left our lives and realms of influence, but it has remained a great anchor for my morning prayer time.

I started with a simple calendar program in Word, and filled in the squares numbered 1-31 for each day of the month. Each day I pray for a special area for my husband (based somewhat on ideas in The Power of a Praying Wife), a special area for myself, and then something for each of my children. Each square also contains a relative, a friend/neighbor, and a ministry or two. A few days a month I pray as Jesus commanded for 'workers in the harvest' to be sent (Matthew 9:38). I pray for our missionaries in general (for health, boldness, balance, finances, faith) and individually. Anything that I want to remember to pray for is scribbled on this beat up, reprinted, Scripture covered piece of paper.

During the first few days of the month I pray for my children all together.

Day 1 -- I pray through John 17, Jesus' high priestly prayer. Not all of it is applicable, but so much of this prayer shows God's tender heart for us, and is so fitting for a parent to pray for their child.

Day 2 -- I pray that my children will grow in joyful obedience

Day 3 -- I pray for their futures

Day 4 -- I pray for their purity

Day 5 -- I begin into 'their' chapters. Blake - Seeking Christ; Paige - stand firm; Faith - imitate Christ; Brooke - a living sacrifice; Nathan - he would seek God

And so the days continue through their designated chapters. Just recently I added one more help to this process. I copied the chapters in somewhat small print so they all fit on the front and back of one sheet and highlighted the verses that showed the focus of my prayer for each day. Now, I pull out my prayer calendar and the chapters, and open to Psalm 119 (that one was too long to copy, so I highlighted in my Bible the appropriate verses). I love praying the very words of Scripture over my children. So, instead of praying, "God, help Blake to seek Christ." I pray, "Since, Blake has been raised with You, please help him to set his heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1) And the words continue to flow from there. It got to be a bit cumbersome to flip to all five chapters each day, so now I have it all in one place and can pour out my prayers for my children as efficiently as possible.

Now, this may seem mechanical, but rather than binding me, it has freed me. I don't sit there worrying that I have remembered everything, because over the course of each month I hit the significant topics. As Scripture weaves in and out of my prayers, they become more focused and fervent than ever. When God does place a particular situation or character quality on my heart for a certain child I don't ignore it, sticking only to the calendar, but I jot it down and add it to my daily list of prayers for a while.

This format of praying for my children has brought joy and growth to our family. Now and then, I also pray these same individual items over my children as I pray with them at bedtime as well. They get the benefit of hearing these prayers and knowing the Scriptures behind them, and seeing the fruit in their own lives as God hears and graciously answers.

Time spent in prayer is never wasted.

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