"We have major spiritual warfare here. Can't share details. Everyone is safe, but there's a soul battle going on. Please pray..."
This prayer request was a text I recently received from a desperate mom of teenagers.
I didn't know the specifics, but I knew how to pray and how to encourage my distraught friend.
(And, dear ones, lest you think this post is just for parents, it's not! This prayer has become my "big guns" petition, when necessary, for each of my kids, my husband, friends, family, others, even, and especially, for myself! So, please, keep reading)!
It was more than a decade ago, when my own teenager brought me to my knees, crying out the hardest prayer I had ever prayed!
He was 16! Our first born. Intelligent. Contentious. Tester-of-boundaries. Lover-of-fun! Of course, each year, as good parents do, we increased his freedoms and responsibilities. And, true to his nature, our son pushed his freedoms to the limits and masterfully slacked on his responsibilities, especially with his mom. (I am the softy)
Spankings and timeouts were long gone, and withholding privileges or groundings were less and less effective. I was frustrated, and to be honest (as a teenager who had made my own bad choices), I was scared and worried.
Until, one day, while I was meditating on one of my favorite Bible passages, and these words stuck out to me. "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness."
Wow, wow, wow! What a disclaimer! God knew that we, our son's earthly parents, were doing the very best we knew how to. But God, our loving heavenly Father, disciplines us for our good to share in his holiness.
I knew what I needed to do! I needed to ask God to discipline my son, for his own good and, ultimately, for his holiness! (For as it later reads, "for without holiness no one will see the Lord.")
I confess, I was terrified to pray this prayer, because I understood that God would go precisely to the heart of the matter and He could bring out the "big guns" to do so! But, desperate for my son's faith and future, I prayed, "Father, please, discipline my son for his good that He might share in Your holiness!"
Within the week, God answered my prayer, when a very wise and special friend, who my son trusted and cared for, confronted him about a destructive attitude and set boundaries on their relationship until, and if, he would change.
My son was hurt and angry. It was hard to watch him in so much pain. Yet, I knew his loving Heavenly Father had used the perfect person to speak truth into our son's life to pinpoint a heart issue that needed the perfect and precise discipline only He could give.
Asking God to discipline my son was the hardest prayer I ever said. The first time, that is. Because, although I still held my breath every time, as I prayed it many more times over the next few years, I watch in awe as the Lord truly touched, taught and transformed my first born into a man fully surrendered to God, who has become an amazing son, husband, father, pastor, worker, and friend.
Hebrews 12:11 says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it..."
Dearest reader, my earnest prayer is that our loving Heavenly Father, when necessary, will discipline each one of us for our good that we may share in His holiness. And, that even though His discipline may seem painful, we will be trained by it, so that it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace in our lives. And, one day, we will see God!