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A Prayer for Parenting our Children by Faith and Grace

February 8, 2012

Scotty Smith:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;     for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:1-3

Heavenly Father, it’s a liberating joy to address you today as the architect and builder of your own house—including the household of faith and my children’s place in your family. No one cares about and loves our children more than you. I know that now better than ever. Our kids are your heritage.

I grieve the years I spent in pragmatic parenting, assuming if I prayed and parented just right, my kids would be converted at a young age, would never get into big trouble and would be protected from all harm. How naïve on my part. But my rejoicing is much greater than my regretting, for you’ve proven yourself faithful to your covenant love… even when I was overbearing and under-believing.

I praise you for rescuing me from parental “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. O, the arrogant pride of thinking that by our “good parenting” we can take credit for the encouraging things we see in the lives of our children. O, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of our fear and pride, rather than by your love and grace. O, the miserable unbelief of assuming that by our “bad parenting” we’ve marred our children forever and have limited what you’ll be able to accomplish in the future.

Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children; only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worthiness of your love. I really believe this, but the move from parenting by grit to parenting by grace has often been three steps forward and two steps back. Take me deeper; take me further.

Since our children and grandchildren are your inheritance, teach us how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners. Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Constantly remind us that you call us to be faithful parents, not “successful” parents. More than anything else, show us how to parent and grandparent in ways that reveal the unsearchable riches of Christ. Keep teaching us how to love and lead your covenant children “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14 NIV). Father, dazzle and delight our children with your grace. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ faithful and loving name.

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