Pray for your kids – willing to work

Pray your children grow into understanding a Biblical perspective on work which enables them to accept it will not be easy but that there is a purpose in all work. Ask Jesus to help them see that as our Father is working, so too it is good for us to work.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.(Ecclesiastes 9:10 ESV)

I guess most parents struggle when their kids are flatly unwilling to pitch in and do a fair share of work around the home. The exact expectations may vary from family to family and between cultures, but part of our task as parents is to train our children in how to work.

God values work, He set Adam the task of tending the garden even before the fall:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15 ESV)

When we work we glorify God by doing what He created us to do. After Adam and Eve sinned work became harder, but it is still part of our purpose and so does not have to be a demeaning burden. By teaching our children that work is an expression of what is good about being human and that it glorifies God, we help them to become willing to work hard.

What do I pray?

Pray your children grow into understanding a Biblical perspective on work which enables them to accept it will not be easy but that there is a purpose in all work. Ask Jesus to help them see that as our Father is working, so too it is good for us to work.


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Pray for your kids – gentleness

Boy with Down Syndrome

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17 ESV)

When God makes a person wise they will also become gentle. This is a robust gentleness, able to be fair and considerate, merciful rather than inflexible.

Being gentle comes from the heart, whether expressed by delicate hands or a labourer’s strength. Fine, dainty hands may be gentle of touch even while the owner of those hands shows harshness of heart by what is spoken.

Whereas a clumsy, ham-fisted person may be truly wise and gentle hearted, dealing kindly with others in both word and deed. I pray that my kids will be like this, showing gentleness and fairness to others.


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Pray for your kids – servant heart

… whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26–28 ESV)

Obviously none of us wants our children to actually be a slave to another person. So how is a child to understand what having a ‘servant heart’ is? Perhaps the easiest way is for them to see an example.

Many children need only look to their own mother for an example of a person with a servant heart. Certainly my wife is a much better example to our kids than I am!

However, all of us stumble is this very difficult character trait. The best example is Jesus – the very creator of the universe who came to serve rather than be served.

What do I pray?

I pray that my kids will love Jesus enough to want to be like Him, to truly be a child of His Father and so in being like Jesus to desire to serve others rather than to lord it over them.

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
(John 13:16 ESV)


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Pray for your kids – salvation

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.(1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV)

This should be my prayer every day for my kids; to know the joy of their salvation – the grace, forgiveness and sanctification of God in Jesus Christ. May they grow in understanding of the riches of the gift they have received in Christ and as their knowledge increases that their joy will deepen.

I like these verses from 1st Peter because the emphasis is on loving God, rejoicing in Him as the One in whom we are saved. With belief like this a child can endure much and remain steadfast in Christ. When our trust is in who Jesus is and our joy is in knowing Him there will always be cause to rejoice even in the worst of times.

Nothing is more important than praying for our children to know Jesus in this way, for them to obtain joy inexpressible and the salvation of their souls.


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Pray for your kids – contentment

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13 ESV)

Child consumerism

For my children to be content with what they have is much harder than it was for me at their ages. They are subjected to an unending stream of stuff, food, experiences and entertainment that simply did not exist when I was a kid.

There is big money to be made from targeting children as consumers, and it is generally easier to convince a child than an adult that this next new thing will bring happiness. There are people out there greedily wanting money.

They are happy to use our kids in order to get it.

A learned state of heart

Learning to be content is a battle for all of us. From outside ourselves there will always be more to have, while arising from within is a constant stream of desires. These may both be neutral, but we are naturally primed to be always wanting more than we have.

Contentment is learned. It has to be learned from God because the world does not want us to be content – economics depends on our dissatisfaction!

Ask God to give your children contentment and for yourself also. Pray that we parents will learn how to be content so our kids have examples to follow.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
(1 Timothy 6:6–8 ESV)


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Pray for your kids – responsibility

I need to try doing more ‘praying for’ rather than ‘grumping at’ my kids in attempting to convince them to do stuff to help around our home.

For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:5 ESV)

The parent fairies will do it

Teaching our kids to responsibly do their share of jobs around the home is one of our big struggles at the moment. They still think the world exists for them and don’t comprehend that work doesn’t do itself (or maybe they are smart enough to know the ‘parent fairies’ will always do it if left long enough).

In my attempts to ‘encourage’ them do a bit more to help I commonly end up quite grouchy at them and probably achieve little other than making everyone upset. The stupid one is clearly me because despite the technique clearly being ineffective, I still use it as my default parenting mode.

Raised voices don’t work

For children to take responsibility for their share of household chores and learn a ‘good work ethic’ is an internal process deep within their hearts. I’m sure there are developmental stages they must pass through before the concept of helping others will stick, and there are certainly spiritual issues such as sin and selfishness.

Because the change must occur within the heart of a child, my power to influence the process from outside is limited, more so if shouting or frustration characterize my approach. My best tool is to pray for my kids. To ask God to work in their hearts and in my heart so we can all work together rather than against each other. I need all the prayer I can get!


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Pray for your kids – compassion

To pray that our children will be compassionate is to ask God to cause them to enter into to pain, joys and sorrows of others. Are we willing for them to lay don their own concerns, fears and needs in order to both serve and feel the needs of others? Are we prepared as adults to model this?

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.(Matthew 9:36 ESV)

Consider compassion and a little Albanian nun often comes to mind. A woman who was greatly used by God yet did not consider herself to be anything other than Christ’s servant.

Maybe you cringe as a parent at the thought of your child taking vows of chastity and poverty in order to serve the poorest of the poor. But I’m sure you want your kids to exhibit at least some compassion.

I found an excellent description of compassion written by R.C. Sproul Jr and will simply quote what he wrote:

Compassion, rightly understood, means entering into the passion, or suffering, of others. It means setting aside our own concerns, our own fears, our own needs, and not just supplying but feeling the needs of those around us. This, ironically, happens not when we have all that we need. It happens instead when we come to understand that we have nothing and that we need nothing. Compassion flows not out of the wellsatisfied but from those who have not. There is, in turn, only one way to do this — to die to self. When my aspirations, my hopes and dreams, my wants are crucified, I enter into liberty. I am free to take up the concerns of others. A dead man has no need to protect his comfort. He has no need to protect his wealth. He has no need at all to protect his reputation.  (With Passion, Tabletalk Magazine)

Such a huge challenge – to die to self and take up the concerns of others as my own. Perhaps children can teach us something of how to do this as they have little of their own but only what is provided for them. They are less about status and more about what is happening right here, right now.

But children have to learn empathy. Selfishness is natural to our sinful nature and overwhelms compassion. Every human has to consciously leave aside their own concerns in order to care for another. This is what we ask God to do, help our kids (and us) to die to ourselves so that we may serve others.


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Pray for your kids – humility

The reward for humility and fear of the LORDis riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 ESV)

What is humility?

It is quite a difficult thing to define, often we tend to think of humility in terms of what it is not rather than what it is. After a lot of thinking and very long sentences I have finally got down to these two things:

  • Confidence in God
  • Fear of God

By confidence in God I mean that humility puts total trust in God and very little trust in self. This contrasts with the self-confidence commonly encouraged in young folks these days. Confidence in self produces arrogance and pride as people compare themselves with others – one self-sufficient being comparing themselves with other self-sufficient beings.

Confident in God

Praying for my kids to become confident in God just makes a lot of sense. If I don’t have confidence that God will answer such a prayer then there is no point wanting humility for my kids. By trusting in God myself I not only ask good things for them but also provide an example of humbly committing my requests to God. A person who is confident in God knows His character and asks in accordance with what is likely to be God’s will to give.

A person who places their confidence in God is not shaken by circumstances or personal failure – God does not fail us. We may falter in faith but God remains trustworthy.

Fear of God

To know God is to also fear God. Not fear of an unpredictable tyrant, but the fear and immense respect due to a being who is perfect in all His attributes and of infinite glory. He is our Father, He is also holy. In Christ we can approach God without fear, yet He is so awesome in glory and holiness that as we grow in knowledge of God we also grow to respect Him ever more.

A child with unwavering confidence in God’s unchanging character and growing in fear as knowledge of His holiness grows – this is what we are asking for when we pray for our kids to become humble.


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Pray for your kids – protection

… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.(Daniel 3:17-18 ESV)

This post is not following the 31 Days of Prayer for children guide but is based upon a dilemma which occurred for me as I prayed for my 10-year-old daughter who was beaten up at school today.

She was foolishly kidding around and provoked a boy in her class. He then proceeded to punch and kick her, pulled her hair, and banged her head against a coat hook. She now has a nasty bruise on her forehead and a very sore head.

I often pray that God will protect her, she hears these prayers and yet didn’t feel protected today. God did not intervene to prevent the incident, no teacher was around to stop it happening and it was her peers who vainly tried to stop an out of control bully. Even her parents are only able to respond after the fact, we will be discussing it with the school tomorrow but could not prevent what has already happened.

When I rested my cheek on hers and prayed this evening I could not bring myself to ask God to protect her, though secretly that is still what I want. Instead I prayed for Him to comfort her and take away her anxiety, to heal her and give her rest.

How do I pray out loud for God to protect the child who He has not protected from being bullied?

I know that bad things happen to Christians and this does not mean God has deserted us. My understanding of God is able to accommodate incidents such as this, my main concern is about how this affects my daughter’s perception of the usefulness of prayer? Is there any point praying for God to protect her is He appears to simply allow bad things to happen? How do I encourage her faith in a God who really does listen to (and answer) our prayers?

These are honest questions, I do not know the answers. I will continue to wrestle with this over the next few days. (See the results of the wrestling here).

A possible explanation is that it was better for Iona to suffer this incident and learn valuable lessons from it rather than to have to experience worse sometime in the future because she had not yet learned those lessons. But does this mean that God’s wisdom is limited to only being able to teach some things through hurtful experiences? The trite answers fail.

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
(Job 13:15 ESV)

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Pray for your kids – diligence

A diligent child is loved by teachers, and as an adult will be an asset to employers. More importantly, we are all commended to work hard for the Lord.

A young girl writing in a notebook.

Whoever is slothful will not roast his game,but the diligent man will get precious wealth.
(Proverbs 12:27 ESV)

Diligence is generally considered to be an ethic of persistence and hard work, characterized by self-discipline. A very employable attribute!

Career options aside, diligence is something God requires of us:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
(Colossians 3:23 ESV)

In this increasingly distracted world in which we are trying to work and study, remaining diligently attentive to the task we need to do is perhaps harder than ever.

We should pray that God will help our kids be diligent, and I think it is important to get specific in this – ask Jesus to teach our children to focus on what is of real importance rather than entertaining or fun. Pray for them to learn the value of working hard regardless of the ‘reward’, in the Kingdom of God it is who we are, our character, that will be rewarded as a sacrifice to Christ.

You may also find yourself challenged in praying these things for your children, I certainly am!

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Image of girl writing: iStockphoto