Parenting is far too big a job for us to do without God’s help. It’s inspiring to look into the Bible for examples of successful godly parents and examine the elements that contributed to their effectiveness. In II Timothy 1:5, Paul credits influences from Timothy’s mother, Lois, and his grandmother, Eunice, with imparting their faith in God to him. Later in chapter 3:14, 15, Paul declares that that faith began in Timothy’s infancy. I have to conclude that part of what contributed to Lois effectively passing on her faith to Timothy was that she wasted no time.
From the time he was born, she shared her faith with him. Perhaps she prayed aloud while she nursed him, or sang spiritual songs while she rocked him to sleep. Maybe she read aloud from the scriptures as he played at her feet. Most assuredly, she regularly prayed for him. When I pray with women who are mothers, it is predictably consistent that whatever else they pray for, they always pray for their children.
It is true that God determined the exact times and places where every human being should live so that they would have the best chance of seeking him, reaching out for him and finding him (Acts 17:26, 27). With that promise in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that our homes were specially chosen by God to give our children the best chance of knowing him.
Similarly, in Ephesians 1:3-14, we are told that it was God’s plan even before creation to bring us into a relationship with him and cleanse us of our sins. This was not a corporate plan for a faceless mass of humanity, but an individual plan for every human being. The child laid into your arms on the day of his birth came saturated with the dreams of God. I’m reminded of one mother I long ago prayed with who asked, “God, please help me to make my children your children.” This passage lets us know that our pure and perfect babies will become sinners in need of a savior one day. We have to ask ourselves what role we are to play in that process? In light of this, what is my job description as a mother? How should I pray for my child?
Surely I must pray for them, and as soon as they are old enough, I must pray with them. And in my own prayer life I must let them see my dependence on God. When my kids were small, I would often tell them, “I need to talk to God now. You can come with me and listen or you and play in your rooms, but you must not interrupt me. I won’t be long.” At first they wanted to come, probably just out of curiosity, but usually they would wander away after a couple of minutes and find something more interesting to do.
I love David’s instruction to his son, Solomon, who was to succeed him on the throne: “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements….” (I Kings 2:2-4) David’s urgency in pointing his child to God had to be a background for Solomon’s prayer in the next chapter: “…give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” Unfortunately, Solomon’s humble dependence on God didn’t last his lifetime. Another friend of mine, borrowing a line from an old hymn, always prayed: “Never let my children outlive their love for You.” That is a bold request, but it has a clear eye on what really matters—that our kids make it to heaven! When Roger and Marcia Lamb’s son, Michael, had leukemia, they prayed, “Lord, if he’s not going to grow up to serve you, take him now.” Michael and his wife are now in the ministry in the Boston Church of Christ.
Throughout our children’s lives, from conception on, Ron and I always prayed that God was preparing a godly mate for each of them who would one day encourage their faith and help them to raise God-loving children. He is graciously and wonderfully in the process of answering those prayers. I always asked God to give my children a faith greater than my own. I asked him to help me to teach them all that I could and then that he would take them higher in their faith, love and service to him. Ron prayed that we would be able to discern the talents that God had given our children (Romans 12:3-8), and support their growth and use, to bring glory to God.
Now, with the adoring eyes of grandparents, we regard our grandchildren as especially brilliant, uncommonly beautiful and outrageously talented. We pray that they will always be humble, God-dependent, and never use their talents for selfish ambition, but rather to honor God and advance His kingdom.
What folly to neglect praying for our children! What greater motivation do we have than our own flesh to live righteously, teach them faithfully and pray for them diligently:
Praise the Lord.
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who finds great delight in his commands.
His children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed. (Psalm 112: 1-2)