As a young mom, I was eager to find parenting advice and help. I read dozens of books, consulted other parents, and quizzed the pediatrician. I was certain there was something out there I hadn't yet tried. And while some of the advice proved useful, most days I simply faced parenting challenges empty-handed and helpless.
Friends of mine and I now joke that when other moms ask us what they should do with their parenting dilemmas, we say we have no idea. After all these years parenting, we've got nothing. In some ways, we are cynical; in others, realistic. The truth is, parenthood is humbling. It brings us all to our knees. We realize raising children is not a math problem we can solve with a simple formula.
These days, I turn to prayer more and more. I cry out to the Lord for help and hope. I ask him for wisdom in my parenting and above all, to work in my children's lives and hearts.
Perhaps you are facing your own season of helplessness in parenthood. Perhaps you've sought advice, read all the books, and tried each and every solution and method. There are many helpful tips for parenting and certainly many good things we can and should do for our children. Certainly, they need a healthy diet, physical activity, and rest. They need structure and routine, clear rules and consequences. But ultimately, what our children need most is the Spirit to work in their hearts.
Here's a prayer I have often prayed for my own children, perhaps it can provide encouragement for your own prayers.
A Prayer for the Heart's of Our Children
Father in Heaven,
You are my Father. What a privilege it is to call you that! Through faith in Christ, I have been adopted as your child. I have all the rights and benefits of being part of your family. I can come to you at all times and in all places and tell you what's on my heart. Thank you for making that possible through the death of your Son.
I come to you now with a burdened heart. A weary heart. A heavy heart. Parenting is hard. Just when I think I know what I'm doing, something changes and I need to learn something new. Some days I wonder if I'll ever feel confident in my parenting. But maybe that's the point. Maybe I'm not supposed to be confident in my methods and strategies. Maybe those methods aren't supposed to always "work." Maybe parenting is supposed to keep me on my toes because instead of trusting in what I am doing as a parent, I need to trust in you. Maybe parenting is hard so that I would learn to depend and rely upon you and your Spirit at work in my life and in the life of my children.
Father, I bring my children before you. They are covenant children and enjoy all the rich benefits of being a part of the church, of hearing the word preached each week, of having other adults pour into their lives, of learning and memorizing your word. I pray you would ratify the covenant in them. Bring them from death to life by the power of your Spirit. Open their minds and hearts to see their need for Jesus. Convict them of sin and draw them to repentance. Help them to love you with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. Be at work in them, refining and shaping them into the image of Christ. Protect their minds and hearts from evil and may they never know a day when they did not know you as Lord of their lives. May Jesus be their greatest treasure.
I pray for my parenting decisions and responses. Help me to parent out of your wisdom. Help me to seek your glory. Help me to speak the truth in love, point my children to Christ, teach and discipline them according to your word, and love them as you have loved me. Help me not to fret, worry, or fear. Help me not to despair. Help me not to react. Instead, help me to trust and rest in you and the power of the gospel at work in me. Help me to be quick to repent, slow to anger, and generous with love and affection.
Good things happen while we wait. It took time for these precious souls to be knitted in the womb and what joy I felt at their arrival. May I be patient as I wait for the work you are doing in their hearts. Help me to watch with hope and trust. Help me to see and trace the evidence of your grace at work in their hearts. Help me to glory in your goodness and faithfulness in Christ.
Please hear all these cries of my heart. Because of and through Jesus I pray, Amen.