Any way you cut it, prayer is hard work. It takes concentration. When I was a young boy, we loved to play hide-and-go-seek until the sun went down or Mom called us for dinner. I remember one evening when it was my turn to be “it.” I ran to the street lamp pole and closed my eyes to start counting to a hundred. Instead of “1-2-3-4-5, ” out came … Dear Lord, bless this food of which we are about to partake.” That simple dinner prayer had become so routine that it came out of my mouth instead of counting to a hundred.
Anybody who’s honest will say that happens often in prayer . . . only in reverse. We start to pray, and before we know it, our minds wander off to other subjects. Or we are so bored with our same old requests that we know the Lord must be just as bored as we are. Sometimes we even develop shortcuts.
A Model for Prayer
A friend of mine once told me that his young son, when praying before a meal, concluded his prayer with “And God bless the you-know-what.” When asked what the “you-know-what” was, he said, “The food … we always pray for the food!”
This all gets very critical when a father starts to take seriously his ministry of praying for his children. Is there a model for fervent and effective prayer that a dad can follow? I think there is. It is found in the first chapter of the letter by Paul to the Christians in Colossae. This was a church that Paul was able to disciple only from a distance-through prayer. That leads me to conclude that what he prayed for these folks was the kind of important things a father should be praying for his own children. In fact, it is an outline or a framework that can be personalized for the individual child s circumstances and needs. The prayer begins in chapter one, verse nine, and continues through verse fourteen.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
God’s Point of View
First of all we notice the consistency of the prayer and its main interest. Paul says, “I never stop praying for you, asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” This was his main concern and the power behind his consistency. He wanted his spiritual children to be under the control of God’s will as it is revealed in Scripture, in such a way that they would see life from God’s point of view and make choices that reflected that perspective. That is what the biblical word for understanding used in this text means: to put two and two together; to take a principle of wisdom and apply it to a specific situation. That was the basic request behind Paul’s prayer. And frankly, it is the critical thing a Christian Dad wants for his children.
The apostle knew that if the Colossians pursued God’s will on a consistent basis, they would walk in a way that would please God. In other words, they would develop a lifestyle that reflected the wisdom of God. Paul prayed that about the details of their lives . . . in all respects.” This is one of those points where your prayer can open up in specifics about all the areas of your child’s life: that he would pursue God’s will in the details of his life, with his friends, school, job, habits, attitudes . . . in all aspects.
From there, Paul naturally progresses to his concern for their productivity, their fruitfulness. He prays about the purposes of their lives and the things they are pursuing, that they would be productive-part of the solution and not part of the problem. Here it is natural to elaborate in prayer about the gifts that are beginning to appear in your child, as well as the involvement in serving Christ in a growing understanding of ministry. This is also an appropriate place for prayer about a child’s school work, job, or other activity.
Spiritual Growth and Development
He next brings up their continual growth in the knowledge of God. He was concerned that they would plateau or stall in their spiritual growth. This provides an excellent opportunity to pray in detail about a child’s continual spiritual growth. Here you can pray for the ones who have an influence over your child: youth leaders, teachers, and pastors. It is never too early to request of the Lord an appropriate mentor for your child who will complement your own spiritual direction. It is also an opening to pray about the character traits you desire to see in his or her life.
Behind all of these requests is the father’s concern that his child have the strength to develop and grow in a way that pleases God. The apostle requests God’s power for the specific needs of His people. He wants them to have steadfastness and patience. It is interesting that when those two synonyms are used together they usually mean “hanging in” under difficult situations and patience with diffl cult people. Here is the doorway to pray specifically for the hard things and the hard people our children must deal with as they grow up. This list can grow as the kids grow: teachers, bullies, siblings, health problems, coaches, etc. From time to time Dad himself may be on that list of difficult people to deal with!
Thankfulness and Security
To crown it off, the apostle prays for their attitude. He desires his spiritual children to have a sense of joyful thanksgiving about life. Joy is a deep sense of confidence that God is always in control. Thankfulness is one of the main by-products of joy. I do not know of anything more important to a father than to know that his kids are joyful and thankful. This is a great place to pray about some of the areas of their lives where they are not expressing joy and thankfulness. Be specific! Just recently, my oldest son, a senior in college, sent us a copy of an editorial he had written for the university student newspaper. I was delighted to see that the subject was a list of 100 little things in life he is thankful for. I considered that a part of God’s answer to my years of praying this aspect of the apostle’s prayer.
Finally, pray about their sense of security. There is a deep peace when our kids come to know how God can forgive their sins and, on the basis of their faith, make them secure members of His eternal family. A personal growing knowledge of this truth produces secure children. How great it is for them to grow daily in the understanding of the work of God in Christ on their behalf. Again, this becomes a place to pray about the issues of insecurity and fear our young people face in today’s world.
Taken seriously, this prayer of Paul’s can become a framework for developing effective prayer in a father for his children. It is not easy, especially the consistency part. Too often our prayers are activated only by an emergency. How good to be able to tell your son or daughter, “Since the day we first heard that you were going to join our family we have not ceased to pray for you. Let me give you an abbreviated example of how this prayer can be prayed:
Lord, I continue today to pray for Billy. Lord, it is my desire that Your wisdom, revealed in Your Word, becomes the controlling influence in his life. Right now he’s facing a choice about priorities between sports and studies. I ask You to let him see this from Your point of view. Help him to remember the verse we memorized last week. Give him the strength to apply it to this situation. And Lord, give him the strength to stand up to some of his friends and even to a coach who is pressuring him. Give him strength in his inner man to do what honors You. You know I desire Billy to become a productive member ofYour Kingdom. Help him to make a decision that will lead to that rather than just a good time, as important as that is. Lord, help me to accept what is pleasing to You and not try to manipulate Billy toward my own way of thinking. And help me to know the difference between motivating him and manipulating him as a father.I also pray that his new Sunday school teacher will get a good rapport with Billy’s class. I know how important that is to his continued growth. Lately his attitude has been stubborn toward his mother. Give him growth in this area. Draw out the joy in him, Lord. Help his teacher to connect with the boys. Give them a sense of thankfulness for his willingness to spend so much time with them and preparing to be with them. At his age there are so many things that make him question just how valuable he is. As he grows in his understanding of You, Lord, and his faith, let his confidence be encouraged by all that You have done for him. Let him see himself foremost as Your child, destined to inherit Your very best.I ask this in the Savior’s name, Amen.
This brief example can be enlarged to cover all of the issues in our children’s lives in detail. It is a frame-work for prayer that can last a lifetime. It still is hard work and takes concentration, but it reflects the mind of Christ, Who Himself prays for us! The father’s ministry of prayer for his children is just an extension of his calling to be a picture for his family of our Father in heaven. Fathers who apply themselves to this model will, by His grace, see a harvest of righteousness in their children.
Article from The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood