The funny thing about the most important parts of life is that they are rarely the most immediate. For instance, I’d like to lose ten pounds. But I’d also like to finish off that bottle of Magic Shell in my cabinet. (Disclaimer – I am totally willing to make this a for profit blog, underwritten by Magic Shell: the sweet chocolate coating that hardens into a crunchy shell when you pour it on top of ice cream)
Since finishing off the Magic Shell is a much more tangible goal, maybe I should try it first, and that victory will give me the momentum to reach my long term goal of losing ten pounds. Right?
Ok, so maybe that’s a bad example. But it’s not hard to think of plenty of legitimate items in our life where we sacrifice the important on the alter of the immediate.
That would also be a great description of much of my prayer life. Walking along each day, for someone who rarely actually worries about where their daily bread is coming from, I am mightily consumed with asking the Father to meet my daily needs. And hey, that’s not a bad thing! God loves me and delights to take care of his children! But he also wants his children to grow up.
You see, now I have kids of my own, and I want to know that they relate to me as more than just a vending machine. I want to know how they are doing, to hear their hopes and dreams. To hear “thank you” sometimes.
And yet when I talk to my Father about my kids, it’s so very hard to think past the request of today. Their needs feel ENORMOUS, and I desperately want God’s help! But I confess that I found myself so consumed by my children’s (legitimate) immediate needs, I rarely spent time praying Big Picture items for them.
Here’s how I began praying long term prayers for my kids:
- I set aside time. For me, this works best at the very beginning of the day, before the rest of the family gets up. I wake up, grab my shoes, and slip out the front door. In the quiet and darkness of my neighborhood, I could keep walking to stay awake, but not be distracted by people, activities, or anything else beyond an occasional bunny rabbit.
- I thought through a list for each child. For my boys, I pray that God would make them strong and that they would use that strength to take care of others. For my girls, I pray that God would make them graceful to heal others. For each one, I pray for their future spouse, begging God to shape and mold that person to love Jesus and love my kids well, begging God to give us wisdom to raise good husbands and wives. For my adopted daughter, I pray God would heal her of the trauma of her first year of life, that he would make her brain and spirit thrive, and that she would come to know Jesus and love him deeply. For my oldest daughter, I pray God would heal her of the pain and heartache of losing family members, hurtful relationships, and my poor parenting choices. For my boys I pray that God would help the to be surrounded by good friends and to be good friends that point others to Jesus. There’s more, but those are some of the big ones.
- I found a helpful piece of technology. (Note: here I want to give out a big thank you to Tim Challies at https://www.challies.com for introducing me to the ap and for overviewing his system, which I adopted with some modification) Earlier this year I was introduced to an ap called PrayerMate, and it literally changed my prayer life. Each morning, each of my kids scrolls across the screen, and I pray one of these big picture requests each day for my kids. I’ve never prayed them all in one day, but I feel like I’m praying for the most important things in their life every week.
If you don’t make an intentional plan to pray big picture prayers for your kids, it will never consistently happen. The other consequence is that I am now being shaped by the very requests I’m making. I’m a better parent with these things on my mind.
You don’t have to use my system, but you do need to have some system. Don’t spend your entire prayer life on the urgent and immediate. Your kids are worth it!