Tuesday, October 08, 2013
BTS Series, lesson 6
I've thought a lot about prayer these last few years. I've written about it too. I guest-posted on Casey's blog last fall with many of my thoughts and changed beliefs regarding prayer. If you missed it, maybe read that first, because it gives a context for this post.
I used to be the type to sit before God and literally rattle off a laundry list of prayers. On occasion, I'm still tempted to fall back into that habit of presenting my agenda to God, my will, my ideas for how my life and the lives of those around me should run. I'm tempted to ask Him to sign on the bottom line of my plans and give the green light for all my amazing solutions.
But for the most part, I don't pray like that anymore. So this post is not going to be a list of topics to pray through for your children while they're in school. That would have been the easy thing for me to write. Frankly, that's what I want to write. And that would have been the easy thing for you to do. We both could have checked something simple off our lists for the day.
The problem is that we would both then miss out on the most important aspect of prayer: relationship with our Father. Sometimes we can reduce prayer to talking at God. That's not relationship. A good, healthy one is two-directional. And in our best relationships, we do more listening that talking.
Now it's getting daunting, I know. Listening before God, rather than the rattling-off, is hard. It takes discipline and quiet. Those are two things I don't often have, or rather, I don't often choose. But my challenge for you, in this very last Back To School Lesson, is to sit before God and LISTEN to Him during your prayer time regarding your kids.
He will speak to your heart, you know. He loves your kids more than you do, and He knows them even better. He knows what they fear, what they feel insecure about, what they need and when they need it. Doesn't that motivate you to ask Him how you can help parent these little guys? A prayer of mine for my kids may go something like this:
God, you already know my heart is full of concerns and wishes for my kids. I don't need to tell you those. But I do need your wisdom on where my kids are at right now. What are the issues I need to address? What are you working on in them? What do they need from me right now? Speak, Lord, I'm listening.....
(And then I'd be quiet, with no deadline, and focus on one child at a time, being aware of things that God sort of pops into my head, or feelings He brings to my heart about this thing or that. Sometimes, at first, I picture a blank slate to clear out my own mind's clutter. Sometimes, I ask him to calm my mind and heart first. Sometimes, I ask him to put aside His still, small voice and SHOUT to me what I need to hear if I feel distracted or confused. It takes discipline and practice. And it gets easier.)
There have been times - many times - when I open myself up to the Holy Spirit in this way that I feel convicted for a misspoken word, or hurtful attitude towards my kids and know I need to apologize. There have been a couple rare times when I've felt the Lord speak about my child's distant future, a prophecy, I guess, about His plans for them. But most of the time, He meets me in the middle of the day's events and problems. He equips me to meet their needs, and maybe most importantly, He gives me a refreshed love and compassion for my kids, even when one is about to make me lose my mind.
I long to go before God with open ears when I face the fact that I don't know how to pray for them. I don't really know with whom they should be friends. I don't really know which teachers are best for them. I don't know how God will use the events of this school year to grow and shape them into the people He wants them to be. And I desperately need His input on all these matters.
I wish there was a formula for praying for our kids, I do. I love formulas and lists and checking things off. But there's not. Powerful prayer requires faith, and faith means believing that God's will is the very marrow of abundant life, even when the circumstances themselves can look like a train wreck. A former pastor used to speak of prayer requiring a "double-fisted" faith. In one hand, you pray with a firm grasp on belief that god hears all our prayers, all our ideas and solutions and feelings, but if His will is something completely different from what we want, in the other hand, you grip onto the truth that He is good and worthy of our trust, no matter what.
The visual of having double-fisted faith reminds me of a boxer, standing tense and ready to defend and protect. That's what we do as parents, isn't it? But the boxing ring is our space for prayer, and our heads are bowed and our hearts are brave.
I've loved doing this series with you guys. Thanks for reading. May God lead you with wisdom in your mothering this school year, and may you lead your kids with double-fisted faith.