Every morning at approximately 7:18 am I usher my pajama-clad daughter back into the house after a short walk from the neighborhood bus stop, baby boy on my hip, and close the door behind us. I breathe out a sigh, as if that with that exhaled air I can also exhale all of my worries and vulnerable feelings about my oldest son being away at school all day.
By the way I hug my son’s shoulders before he steps onto the school bus each morning, you’d think it was our last goodbye. In a way, I suppose, it is. My hope is to communicate all the love and all the words and all the things I want him to feel and know with that one last hug. It feels so much like my last chance before he goes off into a world that doesn’t love him even one measly ounce as much as I do. It is a raw, very uncomfortable place to be.
But while my son may be going off alone, he is actually very much surrounded. He is surrounded by a holy God who loves him and cares for him so much that blood was shed to make a way for him. And this God who goes with my sweet boy is accessible to me through the gift of prayer.
Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” So it is with the confidence that my God hears me and has the infinite power and strength to go with my son every morning that I can offer up three of my most favorite prayers.
1. Numbers 6:24-26
These verses are a beautiful blessing from the Lord that Aaron the priest was to speak over the children of Israel. And these ancient words spoken over God’s children thousands of years ago are some of my most favorite words to pray over my own dear children.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you, and give you peace.”
I don’t know that there is anything left to add to this beautiful benediction except yes and amen.
2. Lord, give me the wisdom to specifically parent this child’s unique heart.
Anyone who has ever been around people for any length of time (umm … that would be all of us) knows that we are all very different. The same is true with the kids under our roofs and how, even cut from the same cloth, they each have their own unique styles of relating to themselves and others.
It would be foolish to think that a single style of relating to my children would carry over to my ten-month old and my almost seven-year-old. I have a deep desire to seek to know them, and everything that is unique to them as a little person, just as God does to me.
Daily I ask God to show me how to parent their unique little hearts so that they will, in turn, trust their heart with mine and let me in. I want them to trust me with the details of their day, what funny thing their friend said at lunch, or how they felt when the teacher reprimanded them in front of the class. I want to know their thoughts, their fears, their hopes, their dreams, and I believe it all starts with asking God for wisdom on how to unlock that delicate privilege of knowing their heart.
3. Please Jesus …
The times when I feel adequately equipped to pray exactly what my child needs in that moment are far outweighed by the times when I struggle to articulate my requests. I mean, how exactly does one pray for a person that feels like an extension of their heart and soul walking outside, exposed and vulnerable?
I want what is best for my children. I want what the Lord thinks is best for my children. I just want the maximum goodness-while-still-relying-on-the-Lord ratio in their lives that could possibly exist. But I don’t exactly know how to use words to say that.
In times like those I couldn’t be more thankful for the truth of Romans 8:26:
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
For the instances when my deep, deep love for my children paralyzes my tongue, I am thankful that the Lord can untangle my thought-web and that His spirit can bring the petition of my mama-heart straight to the throne of grace.
As we cultivate a desire to pray for our children at the start of each morning, let us not forget these wise words about the God to whom we pray:
“The right way to pray is to stretch out our hands and ask of one who we know has the heart of a Father.” –Deitrich Bonhoeffer