Ethan was totally out of sorts. He wouldn’t eat his cereal. His normally smiley face was stuck in a frown. He uncharacteristically pushed his baby sister aside and wouldn’t look his mom in the eye.
His mom was tempted to get irritated but for whatever reason she knew in that moment he needed love—and prayer. So she scooped her three-year-old up, told him how much God loved him and prayed a blessing over him.
“Jesus loves you,” she said, holding him close.
After that, Ethan attitude seemed to change. Of course a couple days later, he was having a grumpy spell again, but you get the point.
Prayer isn’t a magic wand you wave over your kids. But prayer is a powerful weapon, not because of the words you say but because the One you pray to is powerful. God can do “infinitely more” than you can ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
As a parent (grandparents too!), you have the authority to bless, tear down threats, and protect your kids through prayer.
Praying for Your Kids: Prayer Strategies
How you pray though makes a difference. Some prayers strategies are more effective than others–and I only know that because I fumbled around for too long before settling on what works.
Prayer Strategy #1 – Don’t pray the problem, pray God’s purpose.
It isn’t that you can’t vent to God. The psalmist actually says to pour out your heart (Psalm 62:8). But God already knows what the problem is. So instead of spending a ton of time detailing what’s wrong, agree with him on what he wants to do. “God, I’m confident that you’re teaching my 10-year-old to be patient with his sister. You want that more than I do. Give me wisdom to partner with you in that process.”
Prayer Strategy #2 – Pray faith prayers, not fear prayers.
The reality of this hit me when my son was a teen and I share more about it in how NOT to pray for your kids. Praying from a position of fear just stirs up more fear and worry. It’s focusing on what could happen. Praying from a position of faith affirms confidence in who God is. That faith opens the door for God to answer.
Prayer Strategy #3 – Pray against, but don’t forget to pray for.
This goes along with #2. For moms especially it’s easy to imagine all the bad stuff you want to keep your son or daughter from–bad friends, addictions, media influences. So you “stand against” these things in the name of Jesus. Nothing wrong with this–at all! Go ahead and pray against evil but focus on praying for the good God has for your kids. Pray that his purposes will happen.
Prayer Strategy #4 – Pray with the words in Scripture
You never need to wonder if you’re praying the way you should when you pray God’s own Word. Nothing lines up better with his will. And honestly, I don’t think there’s anything that pleases God more than knowing you trust him to do what he said in the first place.
A Specific Prayer for the Son or Daughter You Love
Here’s a prayer that touches on key issues every child faces and keeps all of the prayer strategies above in mind. Use it as a start to shape some of your own prayers. God doesn’t need to hear perfect prayers just words that come from honest hearts.
A Prayer for the Son or Daughter You Love
Dear Heavenly Father,
Your Word says children are a gift from you (Psalm 127:3). Thanks for this gift. ______ is amazingly made—and I had nothing (okay, almost nothing) to do with it! It was all you. Teach our family how to care for and talk to ____ like the gift he (she) is, not a bother or a disappointment. I pray _____ would know he’s valued and loved.
Show me how to instill truth in ________ heart, an anchor that won’t give, even when everything around seems to tug him back and forth. Keep his heart from getting caught up with money and achievements (Jeremiah 9:23) and becoming like the culture around him. I pray he’d have a reputation for doing what’s just, showing mercy, and showing compassion (Zechariah 7:9).
You know how important relationships are. I ask for unity in our home. He’ll need adult mentors who will point him to you. Give _________ friends who love you, who build him up and who accept him as he is and the courage to walk away from those who don’t.
Your Word says you’re a shield around us (Psalm 3:3). Be that shield around ________. Protect his heart, health, mind, his emotions. Frustrate the plans of the enemy and bring about your purpose and your plans for his life (Psalm 33:10-11).
Stir inside him a strong desire to know your Word. More than anything, I want him to know you, not just about you (Jeremiah 9:24).
Give me wisdom, discernment, and the willingness to do the hard work of parenting. When I get tired or discouraged, remind me that the reward will be so worth it (Galatians 6:9). Thank you that I don’t have to be everything and do everything. You’re more than able to care for ______. I trust you with ______ and know you love him more than I do.
I ask these things in Jesus’s name,
Just because prayer doesn’t seem like action, don’t be fooled into thinking God isn’t on the move. He is. Your prayers are powerful!
What other prayer strategies have you discovered? Please share!
© Carol Garborg, 2021