How I Failed and Succeeded to Pray for My Sons – Plus Linkup

Prayer is very important to me as a mom, not to mention as a Christ-follower. But I haven’t always done parts of it perfectly or even well. I’ve been very consistent in how much I pray for my children—both then and now. But I failed in how little I prayed WITH my kids.

So today I want to talk about what I could’ve done better, as well as offering some of my ways to pray that are right on target.

Pray for Children

How I should’ve prayed WITH my kids . . .

1. At the start of their day.

I don’t know why I didn’t do this. It seems like a no-brainer. But, for the most part, I didn’t. And I believe my children missed the opportunity to see me modeling the best way to start their/our day. #momfail

2. When they were hurting.

To be fair, I have three SONS, so this wasn’t always very clear to me! 😉 As my boys grew older, I think this began to feel awkward or embarrassing for them to run to mom with any troubles. But with that said, I could’ve made a habit when they were very small of praying immediately with them whenever they were hurt. Learn from my mistakes!

I will say that my husband and I did make a daily habit of praying WITH our boys just before they went to bed. We kept this up for many years—probably all the way up until they were in sixth or seventh grade. But at least by the time they were in high school, this habit gave way to the simple “good night” offered just before they hit the hay.

By that point, I was of the opinion that they should be given the freedom to make prayer their personal choice and habit, instead of mom or dad continually leading them in what to do. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue in the comments. It’s always good to learn from one another.

Now to some positive ways we all can pray for our children . . .

1. Pray specifically.

We should pray specifically for our children’s relationships, emotions, challenges, dreams, talents—all with a view to the spiritual condition of their hearts. And one tremendous way to do this is through Scripture.

So, for example, when my child feels anxiety, I might use a verse like Philippians 4:6 to pray . . .

“Father, help my son not to be anxious about anything. But whenever he is, I pray that he would seek Your help. I also pray that he’d grow in his ability to recognize and thank You for all the ways You answer his prayers and meet his needs.”

I’m including a list of other prayers based on Scripture that you can pray for your children here. (Btw, each prayer is written in the plural, but can be edited to your satisfaction.)

[Tweet “Pray Scriptures for your children based on their individual needs and character development.”]

2. Pray with open hands.

God wants us to lift our children up to Him daily and then release them into His care. But more times than not, parents can end up praying “tug-of-war prayers” that ask for God to shield their child from any pain. We must come to a place of trust—knowing that God will use the pain and unfairness our children experience as a way to refine their hearts into a heart like His.

3. Pray expectantly.

God wants the best for our children, just like we do. So we should expect nothing less from Him when we pray for them. #believeGodloves #believeGodanswers

4. Pray consistently.

We can pray a beautifully crafted, very specific, open-handed and expectant prayer, but only do so once a year! That certainly won’t impact our children’s lives nearly as much as if we prayed a simple sentence prayer for them daily.

[Tweet “No matter how or what you pray for your children, be sure to do it daily! #justprayit”]

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What are some ways you pray for your children that you could add to my list?

 

What do you think about releasing your children as they grow into teens to make their own spiritual choices/habits?

 


Here are some lovely linkups I joinChristian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Moments of Hope, Literary Musing Mondays, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage

  • Mary

    I didn’t pray for my sons consistently when they were growing up. Our prayers were ones that we had memorized because that was what I learned when I was growing up. I missed opportunities to turn a moment into a time of prayer often. What I know is that my sons and I have made up for it since then. We learned how to pray specifically and with God at the center. Our daily prayer is “I can’t, but He can.” Thank you for for this series on prayer.

    • I think I was like you, Mary, in that I did what I lived and was taught as a child. Though my parents were good in many ways, they didn’t pray with me at the beginning of my day or make prayer a “go-to” when I was hurting. But we all learn from reflecting on the good and bad in our lives–choosing to do the good more often and avoid the bad. I just hope this especially helps others who are younger and just getting started as parents. But I also know that even older parents need these reminders. Hugs to you, my friend!

  • Beth, I think it’s wonderful you prayed with your sons every night. I don’t remember what I did. I think I did that when they were young, but not sure about when they were older. I have a habit of including the Lord in our conversations. Talking to Him out loud about what we are discussing or praying when an ambulance goes by. I’m thankful both my children love Jesus and have their own relationships with Him. I’m also glad Jesus draws our children to Himself.

    • I love that idea of “including the Lord in our conversations.” I don’t think I practiced that very much either. I see and hear of moms who stop and share a Bible verse that fits for the moment of challenge or use a teachable moment to point to Him. It’s a beautiful thing that just didn’t occur to me to do when I was a young mom! ha! It sounds as if you’ve cultivated a very mindful attitude about the Lord–recognizing He is with you and active in every moment of your day, Debbie. I love that and appreciate you sharing this. 🙂

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth. Not having ids I don’t know if my contribution will be worthwhile, but here goes.

    I do think that you have to let kids find their own way in prayer, and in their relationship with the Almighty. I had to find my own way – prayer in the residence in which I spent my youth would have been beyond ludicrous.

    I did have an example, in the Orthodox Jewish family that spiritually took me in (and tried to adopt me) but I had to meet them with an open heart, and I’m amazed that, having lived as I did, I was able to both realize thi, and DO it.

    Perhaps the closest thing I did to praying with ‘my’ kids was when I was teaching, and disregarded policy not to have any religious conversations with students. They need a shoulder to cry on an a voice lifted in prayer, you don’t turn them away, whether they be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh. I prayed with them all. And I still pray for them.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/01/your-dying-spouse-263-superstitions.html

    • Yes, I agree about what you’ve said regarding letting kids find their own way. But it’s a fine line and I often feel and felt like I didn’t do the best job in some ways. I suppose that too is the common mom attitude–feeling guilty about all the things I didn’t do right! ha! I second guess myself all the time.

      I”m so glad you had that family that loved you and gave you new insight into faith and sacred practices. I think they’ve had a lasting and profound impact on you.

      I’m so glad that you were the kind of professor who really listened and cared. I’ve seen you do that here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, so it doesn’t surprise me. Hugs and prayers being sent your way!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    For some reason my original comment didn’t post. Grr!

    Anyway, great post. Not too sure what I can add except to say that I do believe that kids have to find their way to their own relationship with the Almighty, and have, as you say, to be released into His care. You can provide the tall tower from which they can test their wings of faith.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/01/your-dying-spouse-263-superstitions.html

    • I’m glad you were persistent, Andrew, but will respond more in full to your comment that did post above. 😉

  • Thank you Beth. This is a powerful post…I’m sharing along.
    Hugs

    • Thanks for your kind words, Ifeoma! Blessings to you, my friend!

  • Susan

    I was so convicted mid-way through reading your post, I dropped my head and prayed for my precious children and grandchildren. WHEN a post brings conviction? The Lord wins!!! All glory to Him. Thank you.

    • I’m so glad you shared that with me, Susan. That’s the best comment anyone could make! Hugs to you, my friend.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    Like you, I have some regrets that I didn’t pray more with my children. Prayers over meals and prayers before bed are all good, but praying with them as they incurred trials at school, or were worried or anxious would have been good, but I can’t get caught up in the “if onlys”. I like when you say tug of war prayers. I’m famous for that. So, lately I envision myself and often lift my arms up as if laying my child(ren) on His alter. AFter all they were His long before they were mine. Loved this post…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Yes, Bev, I agree on all points. And the Lord is really putting me to the test on the whole “tug-of-war” prayer today since my oldest is facing a health crisis of sorts. He had surgery in Dec and his eight inch incision started to pull open in Jan. The dr now feels like it’s not progressing like it should and has given him an antibiotic in the hopes that it will close up. But if it doesn’t, he will have to have further and more invasive surgery–which it was pretty invasive to begin with! All of this is down on his spine as well. So it’s sending me into something of a tizzy–asking God to spare him this pain and challenge! But I’m trying ever so slowly to release Jordan to the Lord. He’s got Jordan’s “literal back,” I know! 😉

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Praying for your son and for you…God’s got this…
        Bev xo

  • That open-handed praying has been my biggest challenge with my children. I tend to pray prescriptively — “Do this thing, God, which I have planned for us.”
    I’m thankful to be learning NOT to do this at this point in life when the decisions are becoming bigger!

    • Yes, I just shared with Bev below that I’m struggling to follow that “open-handed” prayer attitude as well, Michele. My oldest had surgery in Dec but his incision isn’t healing properly and they may have to do further more invasive surgery if it doesn’t heal up soon. So I’m really struggling to release him to the Lord. God has a way of keeping us on our toes … or maybe that’s “knees!” 😉 Thanks for sharing your heart and struggles here, my friend!

  • When I was younger some of my “faith” was forced on me, and it wasn’t until I was able to find my own way and make my relationship with the Lord my own that I truly came into a deeper understanding of what relying upon Him meant. So kudos to you mama for giving your young boys freedom to pray and figure some of that out on their own. Also #cutyourselfsomeslack 🙂 You did the best mothering you could and you have to let it all go. They are grown boys, contributing members to society and if I remember correctly all married now, correct? So you taught them well and loved them well. Good job! xoxo

    • It’s a fine line to walk, Nicki. I don’t think I did it perfectly, but you’re right–I need to let this “mom guilt” that I’m so very prone to go!

      I do have three adult sons–I hasten to say they are all three “grown men” just yet! ha! And only my oldest is married. My youngest is only 20 and moved to LA–clear across the country this past September. He’s the one that I was so upset over his departure that I broke out in shingles–now post-herpatic neuralgia, since those little buggers won’t settle down completely even yet! But I’m hanging in there and will accept this as just another bump (literally!) in the road (or side)! Hugs to you!

  • A great post on prayer, I am actually reading a book about Prayer by A.W. Tozer. I also have to remind myself when I can’t pray that Jesus prays on my behalf, sometimes the words are hard.

    • What a great thought to add, Jenn. Yes, Jesus does pray on our behalf all the time! Thank you for adding that to the conversation, my friend!

  • Yes, you make a really good point, here. I pray for my children everyday, but I don’t pray with them everyday. Not past routine prayers …I need to be better about bringing the personality of the day into our prayer life, together. Wonderful. Happy Wednesday! Megs

    • It’s so easy to get caught up in the work of motherhood that we forget that part of what we are teaching our children is how to seize the moment in prayer. I failed at that, but am so glad that you and others might learn from my mistakes, Meg. Thanks so much for your kind words and for joining the linkup!

  • Thank you Beth, for this great reminder. My kids are little and want me to pray with them at night. I used to read them a devotion every night. So often they prolong the bedtime routine to the point where I’m frustrated and exhausted. But willing hearts mean I know I should seize that moment while they are young. Will you pray for me in this area? I love praying in the car as we go to school. But I really want to establish a nightly devotion back into our routine while I still have their open hearts.

  • Happy New Year Beth, it’s been a while! I have not been much around the blogosphere until recently.
    I love this post as I am currently preparing prayer lists for my children and I have come to see areas I left uncovered all these years.
    This is a great list! Sometimes I just walk into their rooms in the middles of the night lay my hands on them and speak God’s word over them.
    Some other times I enter their room at about midnight and do warfare prayers.
    Praying for our children at whatever stage of their lives is very important Beth, especially when we believe our prayers…
    Thanks for sharing from your heart as always.
    Happy New Year!

  • Mary Flaherty

    I did much the same thing. Once they were older, I sort of left them alone. Prayer with them felt awkward, then there was the whole divorce situation and then remarriage..and it all got weird. Plus, they pulled away, no longer desiring to embrace “my” Christianity.

    Just today, my adult son (who I work for …whom I work for?…anyway…) told me that he woke up in the middle of the night feeling anxious and didn’t know why, then wok up in the morning feeling ‘weird’ but couldn’t put his finger on it. You know, Beth, until I read your post, it never occurred to me that a) I should/could pray for him and b) it could be spiritual. And now I feel bad that I didn’t even see that. BUT…a) there is no condemnation and b) I can (and just did!) pray now.

  • oh where were you when I was raising my little ones? your wisdom would have been welcomed … it certainly was needed. i thank God for the impact you have on so many couples, Beth. be sure that your wise counsel is not only affecting marriages, but parenting, too.

    bless you, girl …

  • I read Power of the Praying Parent when my kids were just toddlers. It transformed my life. From that day forward, we all prayed together for everything! As they now are older and one a teenager, the moments are less, yet when there is a struggle it is right where we go. They each pray intensely before their basketball games. Not for wins, but for protection, strong leadership goals, and to be the light to those who have yet to meet Him or for those who need encouragement.
    Love this, Beth! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

  • Beth, this is such a good article. I plan to share this on my FB page next week!