What is the secret?
Perhaps the greatest weakness in our parenting is our lack of prayer. It is our most powerful weapon? God waits for our prayers. When we pray, He moves. When we pray, He gives us answers and shows His mighty right arm. E.M. Bounds writes, “Woe to the generation of sons who find their own censers empty of the rich incense of prayer, whose fathers have been too busy or too unbelieving to pray, and who have inexpressible perils and untold consequences for their heritage! They whose fathers and mothers have left them a wealthy legacy of prayer are very fortunate, indeed.”
Every child deserves praying parents. If we don’t pray for them, who will? Some children are blessed with praying grandparents and great-grandparents but parents dare not lay down this responsibility.
I love the typology of the Priesthood and the tabernacle in the wilderness and how it relates to us today. God was very particular about designing the High Priest’s clothing. It was to be made for glory and beauty. God wanted His servant to be clothed in beautiful, bright-colored garments when he came into His presence.
Engrave them on your Shoulders!
There are two interesting aspects, among many others, of the High Priest’s garment. One was the ephod which was skillfully embroidered with gold thread and blue, purple and scarlet yarn. It was joined with two shoulder-pieces in which were fastened two onyx stones. God told them to engrave the names of the children of Israel on the stones, six on one and six on the other. Exodus 28:12 says, “And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial.”
The names of the tribes of Israel were to be carried on the priests’ shoulders in the presence of the Lord. It is on the shoulders that we carry burdens and weights.
In the same way, the father (the priest of every home), along with the mother, carry the burden of their children upon their shoulders in prayer.
Engrave them on your Heart!
But that is not all. The High priest had to wear a breastplate that was made with the same beautiful materials as the ephod. On the breastplate they attached four rows of precious gem stones which were each set in gold. God told them to engrave the name of a tribe of Israel on each of the stones. Exodus 28:29 says, “Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually.”
We must not only carry the names of children upon our shoulders but also upon our heart. It is our privilege and responsibility to carry their names upon our heart into the presence of the Lord each day to pray for them.
This was such a high priority to God that He made it very tangible and practical for them. He didn’t just say, “I want Aaron to pray for the tribes of Israel when he comes into my presence.” Instead, He made sure they were engraved on precious stones, close to Aaron’s heart, so they would be a continual remembrance before Him. I know your children’s names are upon your heart, but you may also like to write, engrave or make something tangible that you could take into God’s presence when you pray for them each day.
Pray for your Children Daily!
What do you pray for your children? I have always prayed that God will give our children soft hearts to hear His voice and to be pliable in His hands. We pray daily for our children and grandchildren that they will hate evil and love righteousness. We pray that they will seek after God with all their hearts. We pray that God will give them godly husbands and wives who will be true and faithful to them all their lives, who will love and embrace children and who will also establish godly homes and families. We pray that God will pour out His Holy Spirit upon them as God promises in Isaiah 44:3-4, “I will pour my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring; they will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.”
We pray that their whole spirit, soul and body will be kept pure and blameless for the Lord, and of course that they will also be kept from accident, harm and danger.
Not only do we pray for our children and grandchildren each day, but we also pray for the children who are to come and future generations. We pray that the generations to follow will continue to walk in the fear of the Lord and impact this world for God.
When God gave commandments or promises to His people, He gave them also for the offspring to come. In the space of four verses in Genesis 17:7-10 God reiterates the following words five times, “you and your descendants after you…” My husband’s great-grandmother loved to pray. Not only did she pray for family and those who needed her prayers in this life, but she constantly prayed for the coming generations. We believe that the blessing of God on the family today, six generations later, is due to her prayers.
Recently I was reading in John 17 the prayer of Jesus for His disciples and all who will believe on Him throughout the ages. As I felt the burden of Jesus’ heart for His disciples, I felt that this should also be the burden of my heart for my children. You may like to add them to your prayers for your children.
1. That they will know God.
“That they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” v. 3.
This is the greatest burden of my heart—that my children and grandchildren will not only know about God, but they will come to know Him personally and experience His power and presence in their lives. This should be our No. 1 prayer. Some time ago I asked our six married children to share with me again when they first met Jesus. Most of the children were under five years and yet had a life-changing encounter with God.
Let me share with you Evangeline’s experience: “God saved me at four years of age. Even today, it is still the most vivid and powerful experience of my life. I was lying in bed. I still remember the orange bedspread cover. My mother came into my room and said, “Stephen has just asked Jesus to come into his life. Would you like to also?” At that moment the world stopped and the fight between the powers of darkness and heaven began. My whole body was shaking. With all my heart I wanted to ask Jesus into my life, but the pull from Satan was so strong. “No, no, no…” the voice of Satan pulled at my heart. The struggle was powerful.
Eventually I said, “Yes” with all my heart. I followed my mother in prayer asking Jesus to come into my life. At that moment I knew God. I experienced the reality of God. He came into my life and filled me. He opened my mind to Him. I was saved for life – no turning back! I have known His powerful presence in my life ever since. Instantly, I felt peace. Instantly, I was not afraid of the big owl outside my room – or of anything. I have never been afraid of anything from that day.” And this has continued to be her testimony until her 43 years of age today.
Rocklyn was also four years old. He said, “After my mother read the story of Nicodemus to us in our kitchen, I asked her if I could also be born again. I look back at this experience as the start of my conscious relationship with Jesus Christ. This experience burned into my life. Many Christians who are saved when they are adults see part of their life from a worldly aspect and now they have the Christian aspect. I found that growing and learning with Christ in my life affected my understanding of everything in life from a God point of view. I saw and learned everything from a Biblical perspective. This shaped my life.”
2. That they will have joy.
“That they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” v. 13.
Jesus knew that His disciples and believers throughout the ages would suffer much persecution and trials and yet He prayed that they would have joy. Not joy because things were going well, but the joy that goes beyond circumstances—His joy in our hearts, because He is joy, and He lives within us. We need to pray and also teach our children that joy is not dependant on circumstances but allowing Christ to live His life of joy through us. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 tells us that “affliction and joy” go hand in hand.
3. That they will be kept from evil.
“Keep them from the evil one.” v. 15-16.
What an important prayer. We cannot keep our children from evil by hiding them from this world. Taking them out of the city into the country may not even work. We raised our teenagers on the Gold Coast of Australia in a home that looked out on the Casino! That drove me to prayer! The greatest victory in our parenting is that our children can live in this world but not be touched by the spirit of this world, that they can live in this world but not be sucked in by its evil. We are to be separated from this world, but our separation is not isolating ourselves and our children from this world. Our separation is the power and presence of God upon our lives. Read Exodus 33:14-15 and 2 Corinthians 6:17-18.
4. That they will be sanctified.
“That they also may be sanctified by the truth.” v. 17, 19.
Let’s pray that our children will be sanctified (set apart and made holy) by the power of the truth, the Word of God. Let’s teach them that the Word of God is alive and active and speaks to us personally. Pray that they will have a love and passion for the Word of God and that it will lead them to holiness.
5. That they will be one.
“That they may be made perfect in one.” v. 11, 21-23.
God wants oneness in the body of Christ, but we will never have it there until we have it in the home. Firstly, in the marriage. God planned for the husband and wife to be one. Not two, but one! When we are one and our children see that we are one, with no compromise, or being able to play one off against the other, they will experience security and see the divine truth of oneness. When there is oneness in the marriage, there can be oneness in the family, and oneness in the church.
6. That they will behold the glory of the Lord.
“That they may behold my glory which you have given Me.” v. 24.
As we behold His glory we will be changed into His image from glory to glory. Let’s encourage our children to spent time in the presence of the Lord, reading His Word and praying daily. In doing this they will behold the glory of the Lord and be changed into the likeness and image of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
7. That they will experience God’s love.
“That the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them.” v. 26.
This love is agape love, a supernatural love, which continues to love in the face of rejection and hate. See Above Rubies # 73, pages 16-19.
8. That they will be prepared and ready to face the battle of life and declare God’s glory to the world.
“As you have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” v. 18.
The purpose of raising our children is to get them ready to God’s purposes for them in this life. God wants His salvation, love, joy and peace to be revealed in them wherever they go and whatever they do. We do not raise our children for hibernation but for the revelation of God in their lives.
Let us daily pray to this end.