Being a parent is not easy. There's no question that dealing with children requires your first step to be prayer, rather than your last resort.

A few months ago in this column I mentioned this principle and received a lot of positive response, with many requests to be more specific on how we should pray and what specifically should we pray for. Of course, I don't know your child or your situation, but I can offer a few specifics that all parents might want to include in their prayers.

You'll notice for the most part that the changes must begin with you.

We need to pray for wisdom for ourselves - so that we will know how to speak to them so they will listen. I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to "preach" to my daughters. I have lived longer, experienced more, and can foresee the problems they may experience, so why not preach? Because they are tired of being preached to, that's why. And besides, it doesn't seem to work.

It's so difficult to watch them do something that I'm sure they will regret. I love them so much that I want to make all their decisions for them. But I can't. If I did, they would never learn how to make decisions on their own. As you can tell, I need to continue to pray for wisdom so I will know what to say so they will listen.

While you are praying for wisdom for yourself, pray that your children will have wisdom to make proper choices. We can't make all their decisions for them, but we can pray that they will learn how to make wise decisions. Be sure to pray for patience so you don't go ballistic when they make immature choices. Remember who they are -- they're children. Normal children act like children and will often make immature choices. Can you handle it?

But be careful what you pray for, though. The Book of James reminds us that when we pray for wisdom and patience we will receive it through trial and tribulations. Have you ever viewed your child's troubling experiences as an answer to your prayer? Ouch!

Pray for love and understanding. No matter how much you disagree, your children should know that you love and accept them just as they are. This is more difficult than it sounds. Children often confuse your dislike for their music as a dislike for them!

Remember that kids often identify who they are by their music, so when you "rag" on their music, they feel that you are "ragging" on them. Rag on their music if you must, but make certain they understand that your dislike of their music is not a dislike of who they are as a person.

Don't forget the understanding part of "love and understanding." Is your mind made up before you start the conversation? Are you willing to listen? Will you give them a fair shot, or will you shoot down everything that they say before they say it? Do you have a listening heart? Are you genuinely interested or are you merely doing your duty as a parent? They know the difference.

Finally, pray for self-control so you won't resort to nagging, badgering, threatening, or clobbering when things aren't going your way. Losing your cool can ruin everything.

As you can see, praying for your children often involves making a lot of changes on your part. Are you ready? Start praying for your children, and I promise, you'll never be the same again.