In one of our family’s most treasured picture books, a celebratory lullaby is sung to a newborn, commemorating the night the child was born. “On the night you were born,” it croons, “the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, Life will never be the same.“ The book goes on to illustrate how all of creation celebrated that special night, concluding with the resounding, “Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.”
I can imagine every mother feels such celebration and tenderness towards that impactful evening of introduction to each of her children. The moment we mothers first lay eyes on a child’s precious face, we know we—us, our family, the whole world—will never be the same again. For better, and sometimes for worse (or at the very least, for sleeplessness and worry), our lives are transformed.
If bringing a child into this world is significant, raising said child is MOMENTOUS. Shepherding our children from infancy to toddlerhood, school-age to prepubescence, adolescence and beyond requires more of us mothers than we feel capable of giving: more patience, more stamina, more wisdom, more grace, more cleaning spray and tolerance for messiness and more pairs of earplugs. . . and more guidance from our Lord.
As I raise my own three children, I am in constant communication with my Heavenly Father, offering up hourly prayers regarding what to say, how to act, how to handle each situation, and (if I’m honest) how to get these rambunctious little munchkins to listen to their mama without making me lose my mind!
But although I pray ceaselessly for my children, I have to admit that my prayers are more concerned with their here and now, and our day-to-day existence, than my hopes for their future, their character, or their hearts. It’s not that I don’t think about these things (often!), but I don’t always know quite how to pray.
An answer to this quandary came to me recently as I read through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. In the book’s final chapter, the apostle beseeches his readers to remain alert, courageously standing firm in the faith, while letting love guide their every action.
Paul was a spiritual parent to the early members of the church, and these were his summarizing words to his children. As I read the end of Paul’s letter, I was convicted that this wholistic exhortation should become my primary prayer for my own children. These two simple verses encapsulate nearly every aspect of who God (and therefore I) hope for them to become.
Remember to stay alert. We live in a fallen world, and the enemy of our souls is masterful at distracting us from our divine purpose here on earth. We are surrounded by incessant messages to chase after worldly possessions, to heed earthly desires, to give in to sinful patterns and false ideas. As my kids’ mom and one of their primary spiritual shepherds, it is my responsibility to raise my children’s awareness of the battle being waged for their souls and hold them accountable when I sense they are falling asleep to the truth.
Hold firmly to all you believe. In his dystopian novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley observes, “One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” Culture is set on conditioning our children to believe things that Scripture tells us are untrue. My fervent prayer for my kids is that they are grasping so tightly to what God tells us about Himself and His Creation that they are not swayed by the deceptive winds buffeting them as they remain Christ’s ambassadors. For my part, this requires that I surround my family with people and resources and messages that keep these true beliefs front and center, while at the same time teaching my children how to recognize falsehoods and disentangle deception from Truth.
Be mighty and full of courage. It requires divine courage to stand by one’s Biblical convictions. I sense this in today’s increasingly secular society, but I have no doubt it has always been true—we are just more aware of this need for courage now than before. I pray that my children will experience supernatural bravery as they face whatever comes their way.
Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all you do. This encapsulates Jesus’ greatest commands, to love God and love neighbor. I desire for my children to feel and believe that they are fully known and fully loved by their Heavenly Father. This love will in turn inspire them to act with loving kindness towards themselves and all who cross their paths. Every word, every action, every purchase and decision and next step should be driven by love, just as Jesus’ sacrifice was motivated by love for us as His children.
This request for (and pursuit of) alertness, conviction, truth-seeking, courage, and love is now my daily prayer for my children. And of course, it is my personal prayer as well. In my human flesh, I am incapable of remaining alert or courageously holding fast to the truth as I act out of kindness and love. It is only through the power and graciousness of Christ that I can access these qualities that I know are God’s intention for me.
As my children’s mother, and my Lord’s beloved daughter, I wholeheartedly ask for God’s guidance and strength as I remain vigilant of the world around me, stand firm in Biblical Truth, live and lead humbly yet courageously, and let love guide me in all that I say, all that I do, all of who I am.