The average person has about fifty thousand thoughts each day.
How many of those thoughts are about our kids? And how many of those thoughts do we turn into prayers?
If you are in that double-decade season of life that is mostly about raising kids, then you probably have thousands of thoughts each day that are focused on your children. Prayers become about the needs of that day or even that moment.
But when you want to pray for their lives, rather than their day, what should you pray for?
Jesus provides a great example from the upper room.
Jesus prayed for his “kids”
Jesus was in the upper room, preparing his disciples for all that was ahead. They had shared the Passover meal together, and Jesus wanted to pray for them.
John 17 is considered the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus. These men were the inner circle, the people Jesus chose to invest most of his time to “raise” up in the way they needed to go.
The prayer in John 17 is a great model for parents who are raising their kids as well. We think about our kids all day and pray for their “moments.”
But if you knew it was your last day, what would you pray for?
Jesus’ prayer provides some good examples.
What did Jesus pray for?
Their eternal lives
Jesus praised God that his disciples would spend eternity in heaven. He said, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
If your kids have not yet come to know Jesus as Lord, their salvation is the most important prayer request. If your kids have chosen Jesus as their Lord, their salvation is your praise.
They would know truth
Jesus prayed, “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me” (John 17:8).
The world’s messages will often be different from God’s. We need to pray that our kids know and believe the truth in Scripture so they know which opinions, priorities, and paths are the best to choose for their lives.
They would be kept safe
Jesus knew it would be difficult for his disciples when they were on their own. He prayed, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them” (John 17:12).
Every parent who has sent their child off on a bus or off to college feels those words. The safety of our kids is our most frequent prayer. But Jesus prayed for his disciples to be kept safe in God’s “name.” Jesus prayed that his “kids” would stay close to God and his plan for their lives. That was the safety they needed.
They would be protected from Satan
Jesus knew that Satan would come after his disciples, and parents can know the same is true for their kids. If we raise our kids to follow Jesus, we need to raise them to be strong because they are going to take some hits from the world.
Jesus prayed, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14–15). It is good to remember that our kids need us to pray for their spiritual lives as much, or more than, we pray for their physical lives.
They would be holy
Jesus didn’t just want his disciples to be healthy, he wanted them to be holy. He prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
We spend a lot of time praying that our kids will fit in, be popular, and have friends. Jesus prayed that his kids would be sanctified, or set apart. If your kids believe God’s word, they will not fit in to a lot of rooms or crowds.
Pray for your kids to choose the right crowds and the right rooms, knowing that such a choice might not be the most popular. Jesus prayed that his disciples would be holy, knowing that would mean they would be unpopular. (But, Jesus’ kids are probably the most popular people in heaven.)
They would be loved and love others
Jesus concluded his prayer with this: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26).
Being loved is better than being popular. If your kids are filled with (“controlled by”) God’s Holy Spirit, then their lives are filled with and controlled by the love of Christ.
The most important prayer for your child, after their salvation, is that they will be controlled by the Spirit of Christ. If you have raised your children to live their lives led by the Holy Spirit, then you have given them the perfect foundation to build their lives upon. That choice will impact every choice.
Is there anything more important to pray about?
If every prayer paved the foundation . . .
When we take groups to the Holy Land, we often point out the ancient foundations. Sometimes these foundations have been built upon multiple times over several centuries. The buildings have changed, but the foundation remains the same.
All of us have a spiritual legacy. If every prayer was a stone that built a foundation, whose prayers would have paved the foundation of your life? If you could see the ancient stones, who are your ancestors that prayed?
Great-great-great-great-grandparents might have prayed for their kids, who prayed for their kids, who prayed for their kids, who eventually prayed for you. When you pray for your kids, you are also praying for your great-great-great-grandchildren.
One day, in heaven, those answered prayers will have faces.
Thoughts can become prayers
You will have fifty thousand thoughts today.
How many of those thoughts about your kids can turn into prayers?
How many of those prayers will pave the foundation of their lives?
Jesus prayed for his “kids” too. His prayer is our great example.
Your kids, and their kids, and many others will be different because you pray.
Thank you for raising your kids like Jesus raised his.