Sometimes raising children is gut-wrenching, challenging, and seemingly impossible to navigate without stepping on a minefield.
Something came up with one of my kids yesterday that left me completely baffled. I had no idea how to deal with the challenge at hand, which was quickly getting out of control.
I removed myself from the situation for a moment, and quickly poured out my heart to God, asking for help with my struggling child. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle for me. My mouth was filled with words that were beyond my reach a few moments earlier. I felt confident that what I was saying was what she needed to hear, and she heard it. God’s love was thick in the air, literally wrapping both of us in a blanket of peace and comfort. An anxious and stressful situation quickly diffused, leaving a rare teachable moment in its wake, because she was listening…really listening.
I am sure that this moment was not my doing. My instinct in that situation was to push, but a quiet voice in my head told me to listen…to look beyond the outburst and try to understand what was in her heart. A desperate plea to the Father brought words into my mind that I otherwise would not have said…words from the one who understands her when I do not.
This experience reminded me that we do not need to do this parenting thing alone – that there is one who understands our children better than we do – one who knows what lies ahead, and how to navigate those steep cliffs with greater perspective, and He will help us if we ask.
We simply cannot discount the power of prayer in raising children. I love this quote from Patricia Holland:
…If we are to search for real light and eternal certainties, we have to pray as the ancients prayed. We are women now, not children, and we are expected to pray with maturity. The words most often used to describe urgent, prayerful labor are wrestle, plead, cry, and hunger. In some sense, prayer may be the hardest work we ever will engage in, and perhaps it should be.
Isn’t that profound?
Wrestle…Plead…Cry…Hunger…The hardest work we will ever engage in…
I had a friend tell me the other day that she just keeps “praying till her knees bleed” that her kids will turn out alright, despite challenges, pitfalls, and heartache. Isn’t that how it is?
So much of what we encounter while raising children is simply out of our control as parents. We cannot control the choices that our kids make, the weaknesses that they must overcome, the way that others treat them, struggles with their physical or emotional health, or other hardships that come simply because we live in an imperfect world.
Sometimes all we can do is kneel down and plead with the Lord to watch over them and guide us as we try to teach and raise them in a world that is full of detours, potholes, and wrong way turns. We have to trust that He knows them, understands them, and loves them, and will help us to do the same.
Through experience, I have learned that those answers do not always come in the way that I want them to come, but they do come. Sometimes they come almost instantaneously, like yesterday when my mouth was filled with just the right words. Other times, it seems as if that light will never come…until it finally does, and I realize in hindsight that God was guiding me all along in ways that I had not previously noticed.
Yes, I believe in a God who knows us, and who cares deeply about family and this whole business of raising children. I believe that He wants us as parents to see our children how He sees them, to guide them with His help, and to tell them of His love. I believe that He will help us to do just that. But first, we must trust Him enough to ask in humble and sincere prayer, thus creating a magnificent partnership that transcends our own abilities and understanding, allowing us to reach our children in ways that we are not able to do alone.
That is the power of prayer in parenting.