Every parent prays for his or her children, even if they articulate more than “Help!” or “Ouch!” My wife and I prayed constantly and desperately for our two children, and our son and daughter have become blessed answers to our prayers—even beyond our wildest dreams. We still pray daily for them, though some of our prayer energy now diverts to our five grandchildren.
While our children were still at home and their paths to adulthood still quite rocky, there were five prayers I remember praying most frequently and fervently for them:
1) Keep them close to You and close to us.
Surely all parents pray such things as, “Please, God, let them sleep just a few more minutes today.” And “Keep them safe.” My wife and I prayed those words many times. But even more often and ardent was our request that in their wonderings and wanderings God would keep them close to Him, and also close to us. We prayed for help in keeping lines of communication and relationship open between our children and God, and them and us, and God often suggested helpful actions we could take to make that happen (such as parent/child trips or staying up to sit—and sometimes talk, or listen—with a child whose curfew was way past our preferred bedtimes.
2) Help them to know the difference between right and wrong (and to choose right).
We prayed daily that our children would not only know what they were allowed and not allowed to do, but that they would be wise enough to know the difference between right and wrong—and, of course, choose the former while eschewing the latter.
3) Bring good influences and godly people across their paths.
We knew, as any wise parent knows, that the day would come when our children no longer looked to us as examples or for guidance. So we prayed that, when that day came and for as long as it lasted, God would bring and keep good influences and godly people across their paths—a prayer that has been answered beautifully and wonderfully by many good people over the years (many of whom we didn’t even know at the time).
4) Save them from irreversible mistakes.
We likewise knew, of course, that our children would make mistakes; everyone does. In fact, we welcomed many mistakes, as seeds of wisdom. But we prayed passionately that God would save them from irreversible mistakes, the kind of bonehead plays, so to speak, that would alter their course and limit their opportunities (such as felonies, for example).
5) Protect their future mates.
As she has been in so many ways (and so many prayers), my wife set the example for me in praying before our children were even born that God—who knows all things, of course, and therefore knew who our children’s future spouses (and our grandchildren’s parents) would be—would protect and preserve the people who would become our son-in-law and daughter-in-law. It was a blessing to tell our children’s mates on their wedding day that we’d been praying for them for decades. And it has been a blessing to see how God marvelously answered our prayers through the years for the lovely people our children would choose to walk with through life.
Obviously, we prayed more prayers than these (our prayers even birthed a prayer resource, “31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids,” that is available as an iPhone or iPad app), but these five repeated requests dominated our kids’ upbringings and molded us as parents and as Christians. And they remain, even today, useful prayers for our children—and their children.