A Most Terrifying Prayer for Your Kids

There’s a lot of things I pray for when I’m praying for my son, James: for God to protect him, to keep him healthy; that he would sleep well and fully; that one day he would marry a woman who loves the Lord; that he would grow up in a community of believers, etc. But ultimately, I pray that God would know him and that he would know God.

Of course, this last one is what James needs the most, yet I find that when I pray for this, it unexpectedly terrifies me. It’s easy to pray for the circumstantial things, because there is a part of me that so wants his life to be one of comfort and ease, protected from any pain or grief. I can’t bear to think of him being hurt or made fun of or coming face to face with an insurmountable obstacle. But it is hard for me to give his life to God, to truly want God to do anything in his life in order that James would know and trust him.

Because isn’t that what is true for most of us? In the desperate times of suffering, in the revelation of the depths of my own depravity, and in the trials and somber valleys I’ve walked through – it’s in those times that I have learned to rely on God the most. It’s in those times that I have known his presence more fully and deeply. It’s in those times that I’ve seen my true need for a Savior. I want these things for James, but as his mom, it is terrifying to think that it likely won’t be smooth sailing and comfortable living that will get him there. He just might have to stagger through the wilderness in parts of his own story.

In his new book on prayer, Tim Keller points out,

“It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances… Their existence was far less secure than ours is today. Yet in these prayers you see not one petition for a better emperor, for protection from marauding armies, or even for bread for the next meal. Paul does not pray for the goods we usually have near the top of our lists of requests.”

Rather, he believed the most important thing that God could give his friends was “to know him better… [to have] the ‘eyes of their hearts…enlightened’ (Ephesians 1:18).” Paul’s prayers demonstrated that a fuller knowledge of God was a much more critical need than a change of circumstances.

While I have my own goals and expectations and even my own will for James’ life, I want to want God’s will for James most. I want to empty my hands of my own agenda for him before the Lord, because as my friend Jen likes to say, he is God’s first, and as much as I love him, God loves him more than I do.

I don’t know what the path for James looks like or how hard it will be, but I do, desperately, want God to draw James to himself. I want God’s goodness and saving grace to reach into James’ life, increasing his faith and helping him to cling joyfully to the gospel. So while I won’t stop praying for blessings or about his future or about his health (after all, Jesus does command us to pray for our needs, to ask God to provide for us and to deliver us), I am asking God to reveal himself to James. I am asking God to save him, to instill in him a deep trust in the gospel, using whatever means necessary, because really, nothing else matters.

One Comment

  1. Sophia said:

    So well put. I have the same prayer. Thanks Colleen!

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