What Do You Pray for Your Children?
Imagine you are the Magical Fairy Godmother from the stories who, POOF! appears in the room in a natty pink tutu with her three wishes to grant. Gentlemen, you may choose your own outfit. (Going with the tutu are you? Nice.)
But which three wishes would the modern godly mother or father bestow? Perhaps you would wish your child beauty, wealth and to star in their own reality TV series?
Then again these may not top your list. Also, you probably don’t want your child to grow up to have to eat strange bugs while dancing the Rumba. And if you do, I have the number of a person you should definitely call. (And it’s not Simon Cowell).
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what you pray for your children reveals your deepest values and desires. It’s where the rubber hits the road of your spiritual life, so pay attention for your own sake and for the sake of your other passengers; for, lo, they are small and sticky and may require booster seats.
When you pray with your children they are drinking in your value system. Even when they appear to be more interested in where Sleepy Bear has got to at bedtime. Or why carrots are orange. Or are giants real? How about fairies and crocodiles? Or Mummy, if you don’t cut my toenails will they grow to reach the ceiling?
So, let me ask you, what milkshake flavor do you favor when it comes to value systems?
Are you the Original Vanilla of good Bible knowledge, firm morals and doing the right thing?
Are you the Sweet Strawberry of love and kindness and forgiveness and grace?
Or Are you the Powerful Chocolate of signs and wonders and seeing the Kingdom come?
These are just a few varieties, and you may combine all of the above. With a cocktail umbrella, half a pound of mashed bananas and a whizzy straw. If so, I salute you.
My own two model citizens are small, aged 5 and 3. They are obedient angels, deeply honouring to their parents and have never been known to punch each other while fighting over the last ice lolly. Well that’s not strictly true. They’re more Biters than Fighters. But whatever less-than-exemplary behavior your child favors, you can guarantee it’s all going to kick off just when you were about to get all Christian on them.
Small children can puncture your big fancy balloon of spiritual pride faster than you can scream hysterically: “Stop suffocating your sister with that glittery dance flag and start worshipping Jesus!”
So when praying with small people (I’m talking about children, not oompa loompas) it pays to get to the point real-fast, with bottom line prayers that you can get in there in between the 16 rounds of questions, requests for drinks/toilet/cuddles/random toys they just this second decided were entirely crucial to their survival through the next 12 hours. And also before you start shouting. I know, I know, you never shout at your children during spiritual devotions. I humbly lie at your feet, gently lapping at your shoes and request immediately that you take over writing this article.
For those mere mortals like myself who love our children passionately, love God passionately and fail constantly, these are the bottom-line values I’ve come down to:
Relationship with God. For me, that is the be-all and end-all. I so desperately want for them to know Him. To hear His voice in their minds, to feel His love in their hearts and to feel Him cuddle them with His tangible presence. So I sneak in a line about ‘Give her a heart that really wants you and really feels you and really loves you.’ Because I figure if they have a genuine desire inside of them to get to know Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, then you can’t go wrong. We can try to enforce morals and modes of behavior from the outside but the only thing at the end of the day that will keep our precious, sticky angels stuck in love with God – is a desire for Him.
So that’s my prayer for you, dear Milkshake Drinker, may your children be drawn to Him, like iron filings to our Magnetic Maker.
(Also, you might want to put that glittery dance flag on a higher shelf. Just a thought.)