Praying for them and praying with them

My girl clambered into the minivan after school, heavy backpack on her shoulders, heavy thoughts in her heart.

She waited for my daily question, “How was your day?”

And then she spilled the news about “this boy in my class.”

“This boy” was loud and disruptive and didn’t follow the rules.  He cost them rewards in art class and never obeyed the teacher.  He did inappropriate things and wouldn’t stay in line.

She finished her story, pronounced a loud “harumph” and slammed her arms criss-cross around her chest to demonstrate her anger.

So many of our conversations take place this way, me angling the rear-view mirror to see faces, shouting back Mom-ly words of wisdom from the driver’s seat.  “You know what we need to do,” I hollered to the back seat.  “We need to pray for him and for your teacher.”

I expected her to shrug off my advice as impractical and unhelpful, no immediate solution and no personal satisfaction guaranteed.

But she didn’t.  I watched as a look of epiphany brightened her eyes and she lifted her face so her eyes met mine in the mirror.  She nodded in wholehearted agreement.

Later, snuggled together on our overstuffed blue couch, I prayed for “this boy” and for their teacher and when I was through, this child of mine–who finds kisses too embarrassing and 1timothy2declines to even hug much of the time–tossed her arms around me freely and tightly.

We parents, grandparents, teachers and leaders show our children how to pray over time, beginning with bowed heads over scraped needs and boo-boos on fingers.  We seek forgiveness for wrongs and take difficult situations to God.  And then we begin to pray for others, their hearts turning outward in ministry and compassion (and maybe sometimes frustration).

But it all begins with us, modeling the habit and discipline of “take it to the Lord in prayer.”  It’s bringing Jesus right there into the center of our everyday.

As Paul wrote, “The first thing I want you to do is pray.  Pray every way you know how for everyone you know” (1 Timothy 2:1 MSG).

The first thing we do is drop to our knees, not after consultations, Google-searches, strategies, all-night worrying sessions, and Facebook posts.  Pray first.

Perhaps God had been preparing me for that moment in the car because I’d been on my knees consistently for weeks over my girl.

Please God show me how to be the Mom she needs me to be, how to encourage her, love her, shepherd her heart, discipline her, and protect her.

I hadn’t just prayed, of course.  I’d tried the usual sources, asking for advice. Looking up some behavior issues on reliable Christian family resources.  Scrolling through resources from online sites, hoping to find that perfect book that would explain it all to me and box up my child into an understandable psychological package.

Nothing seemed quite right for my girl.  No formula or strategy was “it.”

What else to do BUT pray?  What else was truly needed but prayer?

Maybe God draws us to pray for our kids so that they’ll see us and learn how to bring His presence into the midst of all situations.  They’ll see our faith practiced in the everyday situations and learn to talk about life and God—-not life or God and never the twain shall meet.

Yes, this is more than Sunday morning belief or pew-sitting faith.  This is down and dirty life with God at our side, available to help us in every situation, to give us wisdom, strengthen our hearts, teach us to obey and discipline our desires.

We pray for children because we love them, still believing that God loves them so much more than we do.  We know them, but He knows them more.  He formed their hearts and personalities, gave them those gifts and talents that amaze us.  He knows the plans He’s laid out for them and how to guide them along “paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23).

And we also pray for them so that they learn to pray.  So that when they encounter “this boy,” they know they can carry his case to God.  And when their friend is hurt by teasing, they’ll give a hug, say a kind word, and petition God on her behalf.  When they don’t know what to do, they whisper to God a request for help and follow His lead.

Letting our children see us on our knees and hear our prayers for them teaches them how to pray—pray first, pray about everything, pray every way they can, pray for every one they meet.

You can read other devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

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