1.That they’ll be… miserable. Well, that is, if they’re caught up in sin. I know, I know…this messes with a bit of a sacred cow; our children’s happiness is culturally paramount. I remember my mom praying this for a wayward sister, who was horrified when she found out! But there’s merit in asking God that if our kids are trapped in a lifestyle that’s killing their souls, their minds and hearts would feel sin for the misery, pain, and poison it is, so they’ll yearn for relief. David himself acknowledged about his time tangled in secret sin that
when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Psalm 32:3-4
God actually let David feel the oppression of his own choices. I pray my kids will experience limited unhappiness so they can revel in true freedom for a whole lot longer. (P.S. My mom’s prayer for my sister worked.)
2. That I won’t be the only one. The more I grapple with my remarkable weaknesses, I pray for other voices in my kids’ lives: people invested in them, abundant in areas I’m sorely lacking, and intimately involved enough to speak into my kids’ lives. Sometimes these other voices may be saying what I’m already saying, but in a different way that resonates with my child, and without relational static deafening our communication. Whether it’s coaches, mentors, teachers, small group leaders, other kids’ parents, neighbors, or relatives, I pray for people to invest in my kids deeply enough to shape them to be more like Jesus.
3.That they’ll be caught. I’m amazed at my limited reach; my limited sight; my limited knowledge of what their little minds are conniving. Grant it, I’m not my kids’ Holy Spirit. But I’m thankful that my kids are never in God’s blindspot. He knows exactly what they’re up to on the internet, at a friend’s house, or in the backseat of that car. So I pray they’ll be found out and brought to a place of deep, heart-level repentance.
4. That they’ll know their major. I love actively exploring and understanding alongside my kids as they sift through their unique, God-given makeup. From the time they’re young, I’d love for them to generally understand their personality profile, to own pored-through stacks of books on subjects they love, to have experimented with “tasters” of careers that fascinate them. Hopefully that will help them clarify what to do with all the ways they’re made. For some kids, I realize that takes longer than others; seriously–my kids can change their major six times (as long as it works with the ol’ pocketbook). But I love the adventure to find just what edges of God’s image they bear–and pray He’ll help us pursue its fullness (click here for more ideas to help kids grow into their giftedness).
5. More than inflated self-esteem, they’ll embrace self-forgetfulness. Of course I want to regularly, genuinely praise my children, identifying the image of God in them and acting as their biggest fan, the most intentional advocate for their gifts. But honestly, I don’t want my kids’ value built on their performance, or on how they look in a pair of jeans, or how well they can strike in soccer. I think this blogger says it well:
As much as it hurts me – feel less than. Esteem not yourself. Feel lonely. Feel unworthy. Feel unaccomplished. Feel small. Feel lost. Feel broken.
For if you believe you are greater than, your father and I have failed miserably. Among the broken you will find Christ… If you are never uncomfortable, weary, left out and un-praised how will you recognize the desolate? And if you are never desolate how will you recognize how much you need a Savior?
I will continue to put pictures of you on Facebook and brag about you. I will still cut the crust off your sandwiches – and bring you sonic slushes for no reason. It is my mommy nature – but I pray I never make you feel you are more than those around you. My prayer for you is that you came to serve, not be served.
Tim Keller uses the analogy of a courtroom: Rather than my kids constantly having to pump up an identity constructed around how well they’re meeting standards (theirs or ours)–daily rising or falling in the courtroom of others’ opinions or our own sense of achievement–we can acknowledge that Jesus has already obtained our verdict.
And we can make much of Him.
You might enjoy this post and free printable: 31 Scriptures to Pray for your Kids.