There’s a lot of good advice out there on what and how to pray for our children, with lists of suggested prayer points and Bible verses to go with them. Everything from good manners to good health, grades, friends and beyond can really help direct specific prayers for specific needs.
As I was lying on the floor in my children’s bedroom at night with the lights off, attempting to keep them in their beds (and keep them from playing in their beds with accompanying sounds of explosions), my thoughts wandered to what my number one desire and prayer is for my kids.
There is one thing I consistently come back to and ask for them above all other things.
Of course I want my children to read the Bible and find great friends and not marry someone who hates Jesus. I want them to be happy, successful, and not continue to spit half their food on the floor or run around the house naked in hysteria for the rest of their lives.
What will set them up for success in a way that nothing else will?
It’s what transformed Saul the Christian-slayer to Paul the Jesus-lover! It is an encounter with Jesus Himself. That my kids will have many encounters with the Lord is what really matters to me, because He is the One who is able to truly do everything above and beyond what I hope for in their lives.
My wife and I just finished watching the movie Miracles From Heaven, where a ten-year-old girl from Texas contracts an incurable disease and deteriorates quickly. Feeding tubes and expensive visits to a specialist ensue. Hope is running out, and prayers are getting desperate.
What would I have been praying if the girl was my child? For a healing miracle, yes. But then something happens that changes everything. The girl climbs a hollow tree in the family’s backyard, falls into a hole in the tree that drops her 30 feet, and ends up on the bottom, lifeless.
In an out-of-the-body heavenly experience, the girl meets Jesus in person who completely heals her and puts her back in her earthly body. She, and her family, whose story the movie is based on, will never been the same.
The newly released book Defining Moments chronicles ordinary people’s encounters with the Lord who went on to become world-changers. It wasn’t just better theology, more church activity, or other external efforts that accomplished this in Wesley, Finney, Moody, Woodworth-Etter or Aimee Semple McPherson.
When we encounter Jesus, everything changes. For me, it is Him my kids must meet and know, Him they must love, and Him they must follow. Everything else is secondary.
Both my kids have colds right now. I pray runny noses and fevers will be done soon. If they were experiencing more serious physical problems, I would no doubt be praying fervently for their healing. I would want God to fix the issue.
The same would be the case if either or both of them get caught up in sinful habits, because I know they would be hurt by them. The same is true if they struggled mentally, with relationships, learning problems, and so on.
But I believe that there is no better ‘cure’ than meeting Jesus Himself. All healing and deliverance is wrapped up in His person.
Jesus was not always decent – He rampaged the temple, for goodness sake! (maybe the resulting mess would’ve resembled my kids’ room after their bouts of destruction?) And He didn’t always do the socially acceptable thing – He didn’t wash His hands before eating, God forbid! (my boy tries to do that a lot too…)
But He is so wonderful, so merciful, so gracious, so overflowing in love, and so utterly powerful. That is the Jesus I want my children to know. And in order to know Him, they must meet Him and not only hear about Him. That is my number one prayer above all others by a mile.
Meeting Jesus, they will want to be with Him, walk with Him, and talk with Him. They will want to think what He thinks, say what He says, and do what He does. Everything else falls into place.
That’s success in my mind.
There will be little room for religious rule-keeping. Jesus won’t be just a dusty nice guy with long hair and cute stories and funny clothes who occasionally pops up in happy children’s songs. He will be their own exalted friend and king.
Believing in the supernatural won’t be tricky mental gymnastics but natural. Expecting Jesus to show up and save the day will be normal, and not only will they be expecting it, they will see it.
There’s more for my kids than songs, TV shows, and Sunday school, though they will get all of that too. As one powerful encounter with Jesus has radically shifted the whole course of many people’s lives, my number one prayer is that they will encounter Jesus in the same way.
Am I being naive or asking for too much? Perhaps I should settle for easier prayers and just hope my kids at least don’t get addicted to Pokemon Go or want to become police or politicians? No, I won’t.
I don’t have to twist His arm – Jesus wants to show Himself to the little ones!
Jesus had much more in mind when He prayed for His ‘kids’:
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory…“(John 17:24)
Jesus said that we (and our children) are not of this world, but are sent into this world on His behalf (John 17). So my prayer will continue to be that their eyes are opened to the other world where Jesus reigns supreme, so they will receive a heavenly perspective on everything that happens here on earth.
Then they can become who they were truly made to be, secure in His love and free to live as if heaven was their real home.
(You may also like Our Kids Need More Than Bible Stories.)
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