"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day." Abraham Lincoln
"The teen years may kill me! Please pray for my (children)." My heart skipped a beat as I read the message from a dear friend. Then, I prayed for her children, and for their stressed out mama, too. Because, I have learned, when it comes to raising teenagers, prayer is the most powerful thing a mother can do! In fact, many times, it is the only thing we can do.
I experienced this firsthand, forty years ago, when I was the lost teenager, who became a prodigal daughter.
As I ran away from church and God, my mom's initial reaction was to preach and prod, but one day she stopped. And for the next two years, she (and her friends) contended for my soul in prayer, as well as showing me unconditional love and unshakable friendship.
Like my mother, I too prayed for my children. When they were little I tried to make bedtimes special by tucking each one into bed with heart-to-heart talks, stories, songs, and prayer. However, some nights, in utter exhaustion, I could only sit in the hallway between their rooms, where I consolidated my prayers for them to the most urgent pleas of my heart, "Jesus, please let my children grow up to know You, to love You, to serve You, to seek You, and to obey You all the days of their lives."
To me that covered the essentials. However, looking back, I wish I would have added one more prayer. "Lord, teach and show my children how very, very much You love them and how very special they are to You!"
As they grew, I learned the precious power of turning God's Word into a model for my prayers. When I did this, I knew I was praying God's heart for them, not just my own. I especially prayed the passages from the Proverbs. Because, I reasoned, if these were the things Solomon (the wisest man on earth) wanted his sons to know, then they were the things I wanted my children to learn too.
As my sons and daughter approached the teen years, my prayers intensified. In fact, I often joke that my knees were calloused by the time my firstborn had finished college.
My youngest son had just turned twenty when I received my first phone call from a distraught mother of teenagers, asking if I would meet with her to give her counsel and advice. Since then, I have had many of these invitations from bewildered and worried moms. And, my counsel to each one is the same, "The most powerful thing you can do for your teenagers, and/or your prodigal son or daughter, is to pray!"
Below, is a glimpse into my mothers heart. They are the petitions I daily sent heavenward for my teenagers, my friends' teenagers, as well as our prodigal sons and daughters. These were (and are) the sincere cries of my heart, the prayers I patterned after scripture, and the prayers I prayed, and the thanksgiving I offered in faith, when they were going astray or running away.
I have many stories, that I could tell (and, one day, will) for each of these prayers. But for this post, I simply share this mother's prayers:
1) Lord, please, don't let my children get away with sin. Let them be caught by their dad or me, a friend or stranger, or simply by their own conscience.
2) Lord, let my children be miserable in their sin. Don't let them get any pleasure from their wrong choices.
3) Lord, please, help my child's faith to go from just head knowledge to heart knowledge.
4) Heavenly Father, in Jesus name, bring godly men, women, counselors, teachers, mentors, influencers, friends, and family into each of my children's lives. Titus 2:3-6
5) Heavenly Father, please put within their hearts an insatiable appetite for You, for Your Word, and for Your Kingdom and Your righteousness.
6) Lord, show each one of my children the race You have marked out for them to run! Teach them to run their race with perseverance, fixing their eyes always, and only, on You. Hebrews 12:1-2
7) Lord, help my kids to throw off everything that hinders them from running their race, as well as the sins that so easily can entangle them. Hebrews 12:1
8) Dearest Father, discipline my sons and daughters for their good so that they may share in Your holiness, and, one day, see You! Hebrews 12:10, 14
9) Please help my children to be trained by Your loving discipline so that one day it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace in their lives. Hebrews 12:6, 10-11
10) Heavenly Father, in Jesus name, thank you that it is not with perishable things such as silver or gold that each one of my children has been redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to them from their forefathers, but with the precious blood of Jesus, a Lamb without blemish or defect. Oh Lord, fully redeem them from every empty way passed down to them, and from the empty ways handed down to them from their dad and me. 1 Peter 1:18-19
11) Let them fully understand and embrace that You, Jesus, have come to set them free. That Father, You, want to fill them up to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit, and Your good plan is for their lives to be abundantly fruitful. Galatians 5:1, 13; Ephesians 3,16-19; John 15:1-8
12) Teach my sons and daughter not to conform to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their mind, so that they may prove (and do) Your good, acceptable and perfect will. Romans 12:2
13) Lord, please open the blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, soften hard hearts.
14) Abba Father, draw my children to Jesus. John 6:44
15) Rescue our prodigals from the dominion of darkness and bring them fully into the kingdom of Your Son Jesus. Colossians 1:13
16) Call our sons and daughters out of darkness into your wonderful light that they may proclaim Your praise! 1 Peter 2:9
17) Thank You, Lord, that it is You who is at work in my children to will and to act according to Your good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
18) Thank you, Father, that You hold in Your hand the lives of each of my children and all of their ways! Daniel 5:23d
19) Thank You, dear Abba Father, You have determined the times set for my kids and the exact boundary lines of their lives. Thank You that You did this so that they would seek You and perhaps reach out for You and find You. Please let them know that You are always near to them, and how in You they live and move and have their being! Acts 17:26-28
20) Lord, help my prodigal son or daughter to seek You and to call on You! Let them forsake their wrong ways and evil thoughts. Let them turn to You, Lord God, so You can have mercy on them. For You will surely pardon them. Isaiah 55:6-7
21) Lord, return my prodigal to his/her first love. Revelation 2:4
Dearest reader, I have attempted to be true to the way I prayed at the time, so you could hopefully see into my mother's heart, and how my prayers evolved over the years. Then a dear friend happened to post the quote below, and it was so fitting to end with. "Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference." -- Max Lucado