John Townsend, Ph.D.

Most parents I know who aren’t even that involved in the spiritual part of life seem to have no problem praying for their children! The love, concern and sometimes the feelings of being overwhelmed with our kids’ struggles influence us to ask God for His help and guidance. It is always a good thing to pray for your children and never a bad thing. Here are some principles:

Pray that they will seek and follow God. Nothing is more important than your child seeking a relationship with God and His ways. God is his Father, and a much better parent than we can ever hope to be. He knows your kids’ needs, purpose and issues.  God is the source of all life for your child. When our kids were small, we had our weekly family meeting and prayer time. We would pray, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”, a quote from Eli to the boy Samuel. “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” (I Sam. 3:9). We did that so that we could not only pray for our kids, but have them pray for themselves with us present.

Pray that they will grow in their character. Your child’s character is that set of abilities that is required to meet the demands of reality (Henry Cloud and I present the 6 character abilities that all kids need in our book, “Raising Great Kids”­).  These abilities include the capacity to relate well to others, to take responsibility for one’s behavior and to be able to handle failure and negative realities. Look at this prayer as being more about the future than the past. That is, parenting is really about equipping and launching your child into the adult world. As you keep the “big picture” in mind, you will both pray and parent better as you prepare your child for engagement in the world.

Pray that they will have great relationships. So much of life’s nutrients are about having the right people around us. Kids are vulnerable and sometimes have poor judgment about who wants the best for them, who is a bad influence and who is toxic.  Ask God to surround them with the right kids and the right adults during these impressionable years.

Pray that they will find their mission and purpose. Life is about some calling that God has for us. Everyone has a purpose that involves doing good in the world using our gifts, talents and passions. When we pray for our kids to find that mission and purpose we are aligning ourselves with God’s ultimate will for them and for all of us.  It’s not your job to discover that for your children, but to equip them with the ability to find that purpose and live it out. Our kids are happier and more fulfilled when they are becoming the people God designed them to be.

Pray that they will be protected. The devil is “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Pet. 5:8). That lion preys on the weak. Ask for God’s strength and protection for your kids every day to shelter them from danger and temptation.

Pray that you will be a faithful parent. We parents are ultimately the delivery system of the grace, love, structure and training of children: we are to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). It is the hardest job in the world but also the most meaningful one. Ask God to guide your steps and your decisions as you do the right thing for your child. You’ll make many mistakes. Fortunately, God makes kids resilient and able to bounce back well if you apologize, change and do a better job next time!

There aren’t a lot of better ways to spend time than praying for our children. God bless your parenting.