Praying for a child with a disability

Written by Jen Forsthoff
Published on July 07, 2023

I believe in the power of prayer. As I look at the Scriptures,  people called out to Jesus and asked for miraculous healing repeatedly. He made the blind man see. He made the lame walk. He even raised the dead to life. We see in both the Old and New Testament, parents who look to God for a supernatural touch that would heal their child. The same God that healed in the Bible is the same God who loves us and proves his faithfulness to our families every single day. If God answered the prayers of mothers and fathers in the past, he can surely do it again.

So, when it comes to praying for a child who has a disability or life-altering diagnosis, should we pray and believe for their healing? If we pray God would change them, does it mean we love them any less if their disability remains? What if I pray for healing and they aren’t healed? Will we be disappointed if their life looks differently than what we prayed? 

I don’t think I am the only parent who has wrestled with these thoughts. When I was 20 weeks pregnant and the doctors told us a genetic abnormality was possible with our daughter, we began praying right away. Since we chose to delay testing until after birth, this left us with an unknown diagnosis hanging in the space between prenatal ultrasounds and the birth of our daughter. We asked family and close friends to pray and believe for healing as we awaited her birth. All the while, I wrestled with these thoughts and questions as I prayed for my daughter: What if God doesn’t heal her? What if this diagnosis is a part of his sovereign plan for our family? What if God allows this diagnosis to be a part of our family’s story? What if his plans are bigger and go beyond my desire for answered prayer? What if God can show his glory through my child in an even greater way because of a diagnosis? Should I still pray for healing?

A lot of questions, I know. And perhaps you know too. You may even feel a sense of relief realizing you are not alone in your thoughts and wonderings about prayer for your child. I often felt tangled in the mix of emotions and faith, not knowing if I was praying the right prayer. This dilemma of how to pray not only affected how we prayed for our daughter at the initial moments of diagnosis, but as we have discovered layers of her disability and want to believe God for breakthroughs in all areas of her life.

Our prayers

Though there are many questions about prayer, I believe the prayers we pray as parents ought to reflect three main things:

  1. The size of our prayers reveals the size of our God. Your prayers for your child say more about who you believe God to be than anything else. Do you believe the same God who raised the dead to life can heal your child? Then pray for healing. Do you believe God can do the impossible? Then pray big prayers and ask God to do the impossible for your child. God is big, so let’s pray big prayers. Faith-filled prayers are honoring to the Lord and reveal what we believe about his character and power. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I had prayed bigger prayers for my children. I want to leave it all on the table. I want to be a parent who prays faith-filled prayers. 
  2. Ask God for his glory to be revealed. More than my prayers to be answered, I want God’s glory to be revealed in the greatest way possible. I want God’s will to be done, and I trust in his ways. His ways are higher than my ways, and his plans are greater than my plans. I will pray specifically for my daughter’s needs and healing, but I also conclude every prayer with trusting in God and wanting his glory to be revealed above all else. Your child’s diagnosis is not wasted but used for an eternal purpose.
  3. Thank God for complete and eternal healing which your child will experience in heaven. Healing is coming, but it may not happen here on earth. Take comfort your child will be healed and whole in the arms of Jesus one day when they are in heaven. Until then, God promises to give you new mercy for each day and grace that is sufficient. 

When prayers aren’t answered our way, God still moves

Though we prayed for God to heal our daughter in the womb, she was born with a genetic abnormality that has affected her in many ways. Does it mean we didn’t pray enough? Does it mean we didn’t have enough faith? Surely, not. God knows our hearts as parents and the sincerity of prayers for our children. God is sovereign and in control. His work and power are still in motion, even when our prayers aren’t answered the way we would hope or expect. Although God did not answer our prayer, he has done much, much more than we could have ever imagined. 

Through the life of our daughter, we have seen hearts become softened and respond to the Lord’s draw in their life. We have seen God use her to bring people to salvation in Christ. We have experienced divine appointments through relationships that exist only as a result of our daughter’s medical and academic needs. Our marriage and faith as parents have been strengthened. Our family has been transformed as we have leaned into God and one another for daily support and strength. 

The list goes on of all the ways God has worked through our daughter’s life and her disability. Though I still believe for her healing because God can heal and do miracles even now, I have the same prayer as the three men in the book of Daniel who faced the flames meant to consume them. As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced the fiery furnace, they asked God to rescue them—but even if he didn’t, they would still trust in him. I believe the God we serve is able to deliver my child and my family from a diagnosis—but even if he doesn’t, I will ever be faithful and trust in my God (Daniel 3:16-20). 

Consider a few extra resources:

Live perfectly imperfect

Get daily emails with practical and spiritual advice geared towards helping you set aside perfect and grow into the parent you want to be every day.

Jen Forsthoff

Jen Forsthoff is the author of Chosen for Charlie: When God Gifts You With a Special- Needs Child and Champion For Charlie: Rise Up and Advocate For Your Child. Jen and her pastor-husband, Lucas, live in Michigan with their three children. Their oldest, Charlie, was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 at birth and has opened their eyes to the needs of families just like theirs. Raising Charlie, along with her experience as a classroom teacher and in ministry, has fueled Jen’s passion to positively impact families who face the challenge of parenting a child with special needs.  She writes, speaks, and advocates for families who need a message of hope and biblical truth to shape the everyday perspective of their role as the parent and champion for their child. In both ministry and educational platforms, Jen is a voice for parents raising a special-needs child. As God has opened doors through radio, television, community events/organizations, and ministry partnerships, she continues to bring a message of hope to families. You can connect with Jen at and on Instagram @jforsthoff.

Read more about Jen

You may also like…

Privacy Preference Center