If you’re a parent, perhaps you can relate to these words by Bob Hostetler:
For years, like any responsible Christian parent, I prayed daily for my two children, Aubrey and Aaron. I prayed for God’s blessing and protection throughout their days. I prayed for them to be happy. I asked God to help them through difficult times and to help them make wise choices. My prayers were regular, heartfelt, and—for the most part—pedestrian and repetitive.
I wanted more than that, however. I wanted so much for my children, but when I knelt in prayer, I invariably found the same tired words rolling from my lips, like an adult whose table grace never progressed beyond “God is great, God is good, now we thank him for this food…”
So Bob developed his own “parent prayer program,” a simple practice that revolutionized the way he prays for his children. Each day of the month, in addition to his prayers for their safety and for the concerns of that day, he also prays for a specific character trait, virtue, or fruit of the Spirit to be planted and nurtured in his children through his efforts (and his wife’s), through the influence of others, and through his children’s own actions and decisions. At the end of each month, he begins praying through the list again.
I really appreciate Bob sharing his plan and inviting others to “duplicate it—or improve upon it—to help you pray specifically and purposefully for your children.” Below is a slightly adapted list I plan on adopting for my own prayer life.
- Salvation – “Father, my heart’s desire and prayer to you is that my children may be saved, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (Rom 10:1; 2 Tim 2:10).
- Growth in grace – “I pray that they may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18).
- Love – “Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:2).
- Honesty and integrity – “May integrity and honesty preserve and protect them” (Psa 25:21).
- Self-control – “Father, help my children not to be like so many others around them, but let them be alert and sober in all that they do” (1 Thes 5:6)
- A love for God’s Word – “May my children grow to treasure your Word as more precious than gold and sweeter than honey” (Psa 19:10).
- Justice – “God, help my children to love righteousness as you do and to act justly in all that they do” (Psa 11:7; Mic 6:8).
- Mercy – “May my children always be merciful, even as their heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
- Respect – “Father, grant that my children may show proper respect for authority, for themselves, and for others” (1 Pet 2:17).
- Strong, Biblical self-esteem – “Help my children develop a strong sense of self-worth that is rooted in the realization that they are your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph 2:10).
- Faithfulness – “Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts” (Prov 3:3).
- Courage – “May my children always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions” (Deut 31:6).
- Purity – “Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions” (Psa 51:10).
- Kindness – “Lord, may my children always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thes 5:15).
- Generosity – “Grant that my children may be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future” (1 Tim 6:18-19).
- Peace and peaceability – “Father, help my children pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:19).
- Joy – “May my children eagerly receive your Word and be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit'” (1 Thes 1:6).
- Perseverance – “Lord, teach my children steadfastness in all that they do, and help them to run with endurance the race that is set before them” (Heb 12:1).
- Humility – “God, please cultivate in my children the ability to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people (Tit 3:2).
- Compassion – “Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassionate hearts” (Col 3:12).
- Responsibility – “Grant that my children may learn to faithfully bear their own load as dedicated stewards, for your glory” (Gal 6:5).
- Contentment – “Father, help my children learn the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need, through Christ who can strengthen them in any and every circumstance” (Phil 4:12-13).
- Faith – “I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them” (Luke 17:5-6; Heb 11:1).
- A servant’s heart – “God, please help my children do your will from their hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as to you and not to men” (Eph 6:7).
- Hope – “May you, the God of hope, fill my children and make them overflow with hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).
- Patience – “Do whatever you must, faithful Father, to help my children develop patience in well-doing as they seek for glory and honor and immortality” (Rom 2:7).
- A passion for God – “Help my children to learn that your steadfast love is better than life and that the greatest joy is found when our souls cling passionately to you (Psa 63:3,8).
- Self-discipline – “Father, I pray that my children would develop discipline to consistently seek your wise instructions, that they may walk in ways that are right and just and fair” (Prov 1:3).
- Prayerfulness – “Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives would be marked by prayerfulness, that they would pray at all occasions with all kinds of supplications and requests” (Eph 6:18).
- Gratitude – “Help my children to live lives that overflow with thankfulness, giving you thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Col 2:7; Eph 5:20).
- A heart for evangelism – “Heavenly Father, help my children to develop hearts for the spread of the gospel, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all the peoples” (Psa 96:3).
What about you? Could a similar approach to prayer supplement your efforts to bring your own children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord? (Eph 6:4)