This is a guest post by Gretchen for our Love in the Real World series. Learn more about Gretchen at gretchenfleming.com.
What I Wanted
My prayers were typical of so many from affluent nations. I really didn’t think that much about it. I mean I WAS praying so wasn’t that what I was supposed to do as a mom?
“God bless my kids. Help them……… Keep them……….. Protect them……… Give them…………”
Basically, I was praying for God to make life easy for them.
Who am I kidding? Let’s be honest! Ultimately, I was asking for myself as well because when the kids are happy, so is Mom.
The truth was I wanted God to bless them so they wouldn’t have to struggle. I equated an “easy” life as a safe/happy one.
“God, keep all the bad stuff away and bring them only good”.
In essence, that is what I was asking from God. What I learned is how unwise this was as a parent, not to mention unbiblical.
What Jesus Wanted
Reading Luke 11:1-13 NIV, I am reminded of how selfish and foolish my prayers were for my children all those years ago. That’s why I desperately need to be in the Word because it is through reading it that I gain corrected perspective. Left to myself, I am so skewed in my thinking. I don’t recognize, nor desire, the right things.
In this passage, Jesus sets me straight when it comes to prayer. I am struck by what He taught us to ask for and what He chose NOT to ask for from His Father. In verses 2-4, He summarizes the subject matter of prayer.
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.
There is only 1 sentence dealing with temporal subject matter. All the rest dealt with spiritual.
That’s not what I had been asking for as a mom. Honestly, I was spending 99% of my subject matter on temporal issues when it came to the kids.
Maybe I should examine further how the content of my prayers for my kids compared to Biblical examples.
What the Disciples Wanted
The first time I was convicted over prayer as a mom came from this passage. Acts 4:23-31 NIV describes a scene after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection whereby the leaders who put Jesus to death were now threatening the disciples. Having recently abandoned Jesus when He was in the midst of His experience, it is riveting to see how differently the disciples handle it this go around.
Verses 27-31 describe their response.
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Are these even the same men?!? Yes and glory to God for that!!
Notice how they handled the threat against them. It is shocking! These men who were fearful and cowering just weeks before were now asking for boldness!
They didn’t ask for protection. They asked for power!
As a mom, had I experienced that scene I would have asked for power too BUT for our protection. Instead, these guys asked God to consider the situation so that they could be properly enabled for persevering in proclaiming the Gospel.
Their comfort and protection were of no consequence, only their obedience to the call of the Christ. The disciples didn’t ask for the annihilation of those against them, just the courage necessary to be faithful in spite of them.
As a parent, how often was I praying for God to suit the circumstances of life to my children? What was better was the prayer to ask God to suit my children to their circumstances.
What God chose to allow my kids to face had to run through His Sovereign hands first. If He chose for them to experience hardship, then THAT WAS WHAT WAS BEST for them even if it wasn’t what was easiest or safest.
What They Gained
We cannot miss what God provided them. God filled them with the Holy Spirit which enabled them to go out and speak the Word boldly, even in the face of great danger.
This ties back to the passage in Luke where Jesus was teaching the disciples about prayer. In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus explained how God would answer bold prayer but it is imperative to consider prayer for “what”.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
I just recently noticed what God said He would provide from “bold” prayer. It wasn’t all the temporal stuff I was praying for but rather spiritual. Yes, we are to ask, seek and knock but what we really need more than ease, comfort or protection is the Holy Spirit, who will equip us for whatever is being required of us at any given moment.
What My Kids Needed More Than “Blessings”
My kids were not being served well by a mom asking for their protection as much as a mom asking God for their power to overcome! The world doesn’t need weak kids growing into incapable adults unwilling to meet the challenges of life head-on. For that matter, nor does the kingdom.
I want my children to be the kind of adults who will be strong and courageous, no matter what. I want them to be part of the solution, not the problem! It is my desire as a Christian mother that they make a powerful difference for the name of Jesus!
Those disciples taught me plenty about the priority and wisdom of asking for the right things -to be equipped for what is difficult, what God deems necessary. Christ hammered it home with the value of the Holy Spirit. He is key to what it will take to get through this life to the glory of God.
It serves my kids better to ask God for their equipping rather than their “blessings”. Prayer now revolves around the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives more than the temporal issues concerning them.
He IS their greatest need, just as much as He is mine as their mother. I think what I learned is that as much as I may want God to bless them, I want THEM to be a blessing to God as well!
Read more from Gretchen on her blog at gretchenfleming.com
Check out others in the Love in the Real World Series.
Join the newsletter
Do you love books? Need something new to read? Have questions on content or age groups of a new read your kid picked up at the library? Keep up with all the latest in books and reviews and even some things every book lover needs. Subscribe to the newsletter and I promise not to email you but twice a month.