Trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:8

Several months ago a friend asked me, “I pray for all sorts of things for my kids, but are there core prayers I should be praying? What are the best things to be praying for?

I understand where she’s coming from. The older kids get, the more the prayer list expands. And the difficulties kids face grow more complex.

And where do you start? After all, you want your child to be kind, honest, respectful, fair, do well in school, succeed in dance class, or at least have a good attitude if they don’t do well…

How do you know if you’re praying for the right things or for everything you should be praying for?

I love the three core prayers below because they come from an expert—Jesus. After the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for “those who would believe” (John 17). That would be you and me.

And these three prayers cover most of our requests for our kids, whether the issue is sibling rivalry, jealousy, danger, etc.

Go-To Core Prayers

1 – Protection

Jesus prayed, “Protect them by the power of your name” – John 17:11

When my son turned six, the doctors diagnosed him with juvenile diabetes. My stomach twisted into a firm knot. My biggest concern? Safety. What if his blood sugar dropped when I wasn’t around? What would I do? Who would take care of him?

One day I was beside myself with worry. “Lord, would you please protect him? Would you watch over him?” I prayed. In a flash God whispered that he’d not only watch over him but he’d do it “with singing.” Years later I read this verse in Zephaniah 3:17: “He will rejoice over you with singing.”

God wants to protect our kids.

Whether you’re talking about an accident, abuse, the effect of hurtful words, a hurricane, or an evil person, everything falls under one word–protection. So pray for physical, spiritual, mental and emotional protection for your child.

2 – Unity instead of Conflict

Jesus prayed “that all of them may be one” and “that they may be brought to complete unity.” – John 17:21, 23

You can drop all the “getting-along” prayers in this category. When you pray for unity, you naturally pray for conflicts to be resolved.

These three sample scenarios all fall under the unity prayer.

Sibling conflict: Have you ever heard this conversation? “He took my toy.” “Did not.” “Did too!” You can pray, “Lord, I pray for unity in our house. I pray that instead of bickering and disagreement, my kids would build each other up and encourage each other.”

Parent-child conflict: You’ve been frustrated with your eight-year-old. He argues with everything you say. You can pray, “Lord, lately Sean has been arguing. I don’t know what’s going on. But I ask you for a spirit of unity to be in our home. Give me your wisdom.”

Child-friend conflict: Your daughter Jessica had a falling out with her former BFF Avery. You’ve listened to her, encouraged her, and given her advice. But you can also pray, “God, I pray for strong, godly friendships. Instead of friendships marked with conflict and tension, I pray for peace and togetherness.”

3 – Holiness, just being like Jesus

Jesus prayed, “Make them holy” – John 17:17.

Holiness covers everything related to character—kindness, honesty, justice, respect, right living. When kids learn to walk in God’s Spirit, everything HE is spills out of them. That doesn’t mean, of course, you don’t have a lot of teaching and encouraging and discipline to help with the process. But those qualities will ultimately come from Jesus inside them. So pray that your child would be holy, just like Jesus.

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