How Prayer Is the Foundation of Parenting
- Katie T. Kennedy Contributing Writer
- 2021 18 Aug
Why is prayer so important when it comes to parenting?
Let’s be real. Parenting is hard. We are blessed with an abundance of resources, unlike previous generations. However, copious amounts of resources quickly become overwhelming. Which sources do you trust? What parenting books should you read? What blogs? Which podcasts should you listen to? On and on. There are over 50,000 parenting books you can choose from on Amazon. How do you narrow down the selection? The content is endless.
When it comes to parenting, there are two fundamental items—reading the Bible and prayer. In this article, we will focus on the aspect of prayer.
Why Is Prayer So Critical?
I sat in a counselor’s office one afternoon, longing for assistance with a parenting struggle. This was not the first appointment. While the counselor had good advice, and I am an advocate of using counselors for many situations, in this instance, I felt a reminder that God was the Creator of my daughter.
God created the heavens, the earth, and all of us (Genesis 1). While this seems obvious, sometimes we forget this fact as we live out our day-to-day lives. When I am struggling, I must turn to Him for help first and foremost. He is all-knowing and knit my daughter together (Psalm 139:13). He knows what she needs and how I can help her. He should be my first stop through prayer. I might end up back in a counselor’s office, but I need to begin with prayer.
Prayer is critical to our faith journey and helps us remain in an active relationship with God. If you have been blessed with children, parenting is a significant part of our lives. Praying for assistance in this area helps keeps us connected to our Creator and dependent on God and not our knowledge. Remaining in prayer reminds us of who is really in charge. God may have chosen us as our children’s parents, but He is still sovereign over all. Going to Him for help, celebration, and thanksgiving keeps us humble and our lives properly ordered, with God leading the way and us following. When we try to grab the reins from God and dictate which way to turn, things go haywire.
What Should I Be Praying For?
Here is the great part, you can pray for anything and everything. What shouldn’t you be praying for? “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
When my kids were little, I prayed mostly for myself. I prayed for patience, wisdom, abounding love, pretty much all the fruits of the Spirit. I needed every single one of them to get through the day. I prayed for God to put a hedge of protection over them. When they are sick, I pray for their healing. If there is a medical decision, I pray for a clear path and wise doctors. As our kids have gotten older, we pray the Spirit continues to grow in them daily and that they never know a day without Him. Ultimately, I pray for them to know God and turn to Him for everything. When my husband and I are gone, I want them to rely on their all-knowing, ever-present Father who will never leave them.
My faithful aunt opened my eyes to the idea of praying for their future spouses starting at a young age. When I heard this, it made perfect sense and was an easy prayer to incorporate. I want my girls (we have three girls) to marry Godly men. Godly men are not just created out of thin air; they are raised, taught, and molded by Godly parents. I pray for strong, faithful men to marry my daughters and support them in their continual faith journey and the eventual raising of children.
Different seasons of parenting bring about a variety of decisions. The older kids get, the more complicated the choices become. Things like schooling, friend choices, activities, dealing with technology must be decided. Don’t do it alone, do it in prayer.
How Should I Be Praying?
One strategy has impacted my family in such a positive way that I would be remiss not to share it.
On a last-minute decision, I went and listened to Jodie Berndt speak about her experience and her book on “Praying the Scriptures for your Children.” I bought her book and immediately read her book, and implemented her strategies. She didn’t create fancy elaborate prayers. Her strategy is simple yet effective. She takes Scripture and personalizes it for each one of her children. Our children are so different. As parents, we know our children’s propensity to sin, just like we know our own. While there are plenty of effective discipline techniques, why not target the heart of the matter? Of course, we are not in charge of our children’s hearts; God is.
Our role in this parenting technique is to pray the Scriptures. There are Scriptures to give us guidance in areas of weakness. You find a verse that addresses the heart issue your child is struggling with and pray that consistently. For example, one of my children grappled with being sneaky and not telling the truth. I have been praying 1 Kings 3:9 for her for years. “Give (insert child’s name) a wise and discerning heart so that she can distinguish between right and wrong.” Over the years, I have watched a dramatic change in my child. Only God can do this type of transformation. My role is to lift prayers up to Him.
By using Scripture, we are speaking God’s words back to Him. How powerful! I certainly can’t come up with better vocabulary, and I don’t have to. God laid it out there for me to use. When I consistently pray for something, I see a change, but it takes time. God is not a vending machine. You can’t ask for a drastic change in anyone to happen overnight. He may choose to work a miracle, but often we learn patience along the way.
When Should I be Praying?
I want to say all the time, but obviously, that’s challenging and unrealistic. I do set aside quiet time in the morning hours for prayer. I pray individually for each one of my family members.
The more we depend on God through prayer, the better. When my kids are performing at school, I am praying for them. As they compete in athletics, I lift prayers of safety and courage. I ask for wisdom and help throughout my day as I face challenges and decisions. We had a bad sledding accident for my middle daughter, and I sat in the hospital praying. My husband and I sent out notes to our faithful friends and asked for them to pray. We prayed fervently, and I could feel the prayers. I felt overwhelmed with peace and calm that only comes from the Spirit.
Prayers are powerful!
If you look to the Bible, when did our ancestors pray? Often. We see examples of David’s prayers and worship to the Lord in many of the Psalms. We see the prayerful lives of Moses, Joshua, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Mary, and so many more. Let us not forget the example Jesus modeled for us as He went away and prayed, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
As the Bible tells us, people prayed when they were scared or grieving and in need of courage and comfort. In the good times, we celebrate, giving thanks and rejoicing. Lifting our thoughts, concerns, and praises up to the Lord is a wonderful act of worship. The more we do it, the more we center our mind on Him, which recalibrates us throughout our day.
How Does Prayer Impact Our Parenting?
When we are connected to our Creature through reading the Scripture and prayer, He can protect our family and alter their hearts. He is the only one who can change a child’s heart. Regardless of bribery, threats, and punishment, we are not in control of our children’s decisions. Ultimately, we must pray to the Lord to turn their hearts to Him. If they stray, we continue our prayers for them to come back to Him.
Prayer gives us peace, even when the storms circle us. Prayer gives us strength to continue when it feels like the decisions are just too big for us. As a mom, I can get overwhelmed. Rather than run my house from a place of anxiety and stress (which transfers to my children), when I can get to a healthy place with the Lord and feel his peace inside, I run my house from a place of calm and confidence. Prayer ultimately reminds me who is in charge.
God is the decider of all things. He decides when we are healthy and when we are sick. When we need to be disciplined and when He wants to give us many blessings. He controls the sun and the moon, and the stars. He is sovereign over everything. When we remind ourselves of this, a huge weight is lifted from our shoulders. We don’t need to carry around baggage we were not intended for. The Holy Spirit can open our eyes to what our children might be dealing with or feeling. There have been so many occasions when I thought I knew what was going on with my child, and in my quiet time with the Lord, He showed me something. No one else can do that! No book besides the Bible can give you that wisdom.
Prayer is like the cement blocks or brick at the foundation of the house. Without them, the house is unstable and prone to damage. With them, you have a strong foundation on which to build your house. Without prayer and the Bible, we can get blown around by the fads and currents of our culture. We give thanks for all the resources we have to help us navigate parenting: friends, books, blogs, websites, speakers, counselors, etc. Just remember to build your house with prayer as your foundation before you move on. Knowing all the options out there, take those to God and let Him, all-knowing, help you sort out your parenting decisions.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio
Katie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream. She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.