Several years ago, I found a precious letter in my family’s archives. My great-grandfather in Poland wrote to my grandfather, who had immigrated to America. One line in the letter struck me with both comfort and conviction: “I faithfully pray for you, for your children, and for your future generations.”
I am one of those grandchildren. Before I was born, my great-grandfather prayed for me from halfway around the world. That comforts me.
I was also convicted by my great-grandfather’s letter. How do my prayers shape my twelve grandchildren’s lives? How can I learn to pray effectively for them?
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1. Our Prayers Have the Power to Change Lives
I realized that my prayers for my grandchildren had been too vague and general: “Keep them safe,” “Help them in school,” “Open their hearts.”
As I read the Bible with their lives in mind, my prayers became more specific. I can pray, paraphrasing Psalm 34:13: “Lord, keep Jason’s tongue from speaking evil and his lips from telling lies.” For the grandchild who seems disinterested in the Lord, I can pray from Proverbs 2:1, “Lord, touch Ben’s heart. Teach him to listen to what You have to say and to treasure Your commands.” For the teenager going through a tough time, I can pray from Isaiah 40:1-4: “O Lord, You formed Stacy’s life. I will not be afraid because You have ransomed her. You have called her by name. She is Yours. When she goes through deep waters, You will be with her. When she goes through the rivers of difficulty, she will not drown. She is precious to You. You love her.”
When we pray according to God’s Word, we are in line with His will, enabling us to pray with power and wisdom. The praying changes not only the lives of our grandchildren, but us as well. We gain a fuller perspective.
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2. We Learn to Trust the Faithfulness of God
It’s easy for us grandmothers to worry about our grandchildren. They are faced with choices and challenges we could never imagine when we were their age. Many movies, music lyrics, TV programs, video games, and the Internet are desensitizing our grandchildren. They live in a world of legal recreational marijuana, other drugs, sex trafficking, alcohol abuse, confusion about sexual identity, pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, and much more.
But instead of wringing our hands in distress, we can pray—regularly, intentionally, specifically—trusting them into God’s faithful care.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psa 34:18).
God’s way is perfect…. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. (Psa 18:30)
Even when [my grandchildren] walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside [them]. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort [them]. (Psa 23:4)
We grandmothers can stand in the gap, praying for the spiritual, emotional, and physical protection of our precious grandchildren. We are not hopeless; wehave a God who is “our refuge and strength, our stronghold in times of trouble” (Psa 46:1).
Because God is faithful, we can breathe in His peace while we wait for the answers to our prayers.
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3. We are Given the Opportunity to Join with Others
When I first became passionate about praying for my grandchildren, God directed me to the Christian Grandparenting Network, an organization devoted to challenging Christian grandparents to live intentionally as representatives of Christ for future generations. It is committed to providing a network of resources and opportunities for grandparents to have powerful opportunities for intergenerational dialogue to strengthen grandparent-grandchild relationships and spiritual growth. I now have the privilege of serving as their National Prayer Coordinator, writing devotionals and prayer suggestions on their website.
We also have a grandmothers’ prayer group in my church. We meet monthly and pray for our grandchildren, our children, and each other. We encourage each other to love our grandchildren, even when they disappoint us with their music choices, their appearances, and sometimes their body piercings. It’s a “safe place” to share our heavy hearts. We have seen God answer prayers in some remarkable ways.
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4. Our Prayers Give Us a Purpose
As we age, we may sometimes feel that we are no longer useful. The truth is, God has a significant purpose for us. Just as the Old Testament Queen Esther stood in the gap for her people when their lives were threatened, we can stand in the gap for our grandchildren and their parents as their lives are threatened spiritually. Perhaps at no other time in history is a call to prayer more urgently needed than it is today. Together we can link arms in prayer for the sake of the next generation.
My great-grandfather’s prayers had a ripple effect on my whole family—on my grandparents, my parents, my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, and me. If you do not have a Christian heritage, you have the privilege of starting the ripple effect with prayers for your family.
Sometimes our grandchildren see the results of our prayers. My oldest granddaughter warmed my heart when she sent me the following note:
Grandma, your phone calls, cards, and e-mails were encouraging and made a significant impact on my life, especially in my teenage and college years. Your prayers and encouragement have been rock-solid reminders of God’s truth in my incredible, crazy life-shaping years, and now in my married life. Your prayers help me surrender the craziness of my life to God.
A few years ago on a sunny autumn day, my husband and I were traveling in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Mesmerized by the reflections of the rugged snow-covered mountains and golden aspen trees on a pristine lake, I could not help but ask myself: Do my children and grandchildren see God’s love reflected in my life in the same way? Do they see Jesus in me?
Pondering the answer to these questions led me to realize that the sun must shine on the mountains and trees to create a reflection. In order for God’s love to reflect from my life, the love of Jesus Christ must be shining in my heart, which means that I must be reading and obeying His Word.
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Grandparenting Honors God
My husband and I thank God he has given us an opportunity to be prayer warriors for our twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Serving Him in this way and leading the cause through Christian Grandparenting Network’s prayer ministry has given my life purpose and significance.
May the light of the Son reflect in you, and may you know the joy of serving as God’s prayer warrior for your grandchildren and future generations.
Lillian Penner is the author of Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for Your Grandchildren and is the National Prayer Coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network. An avid blogger, Lillian will break into smiles if you ask about her twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She and her husband, John, live in Portland, Oregon, where they are active in church ministries.
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