Like many of you, I pray with and for my kids each morning before they head off to school. And, like many of you, I want those daily prayers to be more directed than just the common, "have a safe, fun day" kind of prayer. I want to pray God's truth and life over my kids. I want to, as a family, give God creative control over every aspect of the day. I want to ask for the things that God wants for my kids.
So the big question is: What should we pray each morning before our kids head off to school out of our care and control?
As I've spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on this question, I've found the perfect answer (and words) in His Perfect Word.
I thought I would share with you the core elements of what I've begun to pray each day. I hope they will be encouraging and helpful to you as you daily pray with and for your kids as well.
First, I (we) ask for protection over them.
I mirror Jesus' prayer for believers in John 17:15, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."
Second, I (we) commit each day to Him.
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans...In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:3,9
The Message version puts it this way: "Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place....We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it."
The word commit literally means to "roll" the burden of care upon God, to cast upon Him our desires and intentions for the day (1 Peter 5:7). It is a clear picture of surrendering the whole day to His control. The verse then promises that when we give the LORD our works and our day, His purposes and plans are established in and through us.
Third, I (we) pray they would know Jesus personally with ever-deepening intimacy each day.
"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Philippians 3:8-9
I love the life-giving truth of these words. Nothing else matters but knowing Jesus. As parents, we cannot demand spiritual perfection from our kids. Why? Because God never demands perfection. "Untainted morality vanished with Eden." (Swindoll) Our children are saved by grace, not by works. No amount of good works or spiritual disciplines will make them holy. Thus, their only duty as followers of Jesus is to know Him.
So in the words of Charles R. Swindoll, "If they read Scripture, pray, meditate, journal, or fast, let them do it for the sole purpose of knowing His mind. If they worship, serve, partake of communion, or spend time in the company of believers, let them learn about Him through His transforming work in others. If they feed the poor, defend the weak, comfort the lonely, or proclaim the gospel to a broken and needy world, let their walking in His sandals give them firsthand knowledge of His character. Let every trial or triumph bring them closer to knowing Christ's nature and to understanding His purpose."
Fourth, I ask God to daily transform them into His likeness. A fancy theological term for this is to sanctify. Again I pray the words of Jesus, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." In laymen's terms, Jesus was praying that we would become like Him.
2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks to this, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
As our kids come to know Jesus more personally, the Holy Spirit will do what only He can do: make them more like their Savior. "As the moon reflects the light of the sun, yet has no light of its own, so our kids will shine with God's radiance as they live in proximity to His Son." (Swindoll)
My daily morning prayer for my kids has become empowered by these four core elements.
So whether or not you join me daily in praying these core elements over your kids, will you join me today and pray them?
As my kids head off to school today, will You protect them from the evil one. Keep their bodies and minds from evil, may Your life-giving truth be their refuge and strength. And I surrender their day to You. Enable them through Your Spirit to put You in charge of their day. As they roll the burden of care upon You for this day, thank You that your plans and purposes will be established in and through them. I also pray they would know You with a deeper intimacy today. May they learn to seek only You in all things. And as they come to know You more intimately, may Your Holy Spirit do its sanctifying work and begin to transform them into Your likeness so they will radiate You to the world around them.