One of my all-time favorite verses is Philippians 4:6-7: “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 minds in Christ Jesus.”
I memorized this verse when I was expecting my firstborn, and reciting it brought great peace through some big challenges I faced right before my bundle of joy arrived. Six years later, I can’t count the times this verse has brought peace in all sorts of situations as a mother.
Whether our children are still in the womb, asleep upstairs or all grown up and living half-way around the world, we moms and dads are frequently tempted to be anxious about our children. But then what an opportunity we have to meditate on biblical truths as we pray God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, to fight for our children!
If we want to experience the joy of watching our children walk in the truth, we must pray for them, says Pastor John Piper of Desiring God Ministries (www.desiringGod.org). Watching your children walk away from the truth, he adds, is crushing.
“To lay hold on this joy and to prevent this pain, we must pray daily (sometimes hourly) and earnestly for our children,” Piper says.
Desiring God offers this list of seven things to pray for your children. My goal is to pray through these each week for both of my daughters.
1. Pray 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. Pray that they will respond in faith to Jesus’ 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. Pray 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. Pray 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. Pray 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. Pray 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. Pray 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)
Also, not too long ago one of my best friends forwarded this list of 12 petitions to pray for children; specific verses accompany each petition. The instructions suggested praying for one petition each month so that, after a year, you’ll have thoroughly prayed for each petition. If you memorize the verses as you pray, you’ll also have a great stash of biblical truth to draw on in times of trouble or need.
Below is the list of petitions to pray for your children and references for the corresponding verses. I looked up each of the verses and wrote them down in a handy spiral-bound book of index cards to review as I pray.
Here are 12 more ways to pray for your children:
1. Pray that they will know Christ as Savior early in life. (Psalm 63:1 and 2 Timothy 3 :15)
2. Pray that they will have a hatred for sin. (Psalm 97:10)
3. Pray that they will be caught when guilty. (Psalm 119:71)
4. Pray that they will be protected from evil in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional, physical. (John 17:15)
5. Pray that they will have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships. (Daniel 6:3)
6. Pray that they will respect those in authority over them. (Romans 13:1)
7. Pray that they will desire the right kinds of friends and be protected from the wrong friends. (Proverbs 1:10-14)
8. Pray that they will be kept from the wrong mate and saved for the right one. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
9. Pray that they, as well as those they marry, will be kept pure until marriage. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
10. Pray that they will learn to totally submit to God and actively resist Satan in all circumstances. (James 4:7)
11. Pray that they will be single-hearted, willing to be sold out to Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:1-2)
12. Pray that they will be hedged in so they cannot find their way to wrong people or wrong places and that the wrong people cannot find their way to them. (Hosea 2:6)