Your Greatest Legacy
"Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children ..." Lamentations 2:19b (NLT)
Nothing keeps you on your knees or on your toes like parenting. Maybe you can relate to these words attributed to John Wilmot: "Before I got married, I had six theories about raising children; now I have six children and no theories."
Lora and I have three children (ages 18, 16 and 12), and they have effectively dismantled all of our theories about parenting except for one. And that one theory is the game changer:
You'll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.
Prayer is our highest privilege as a parent. There is nothing we can do that will have a higher return on investment. In fact, the dividends are more than generational. They are eternal. Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren and every generation that follows.
The blood running through my veins is half Swedish. I trace my genealogy back through the Johansson family who made a decision to get on a boat and come to America in the late 19th century. That single decision started a chain reaction that radically altered the destiny of every descendent to follow in a thousand different ways. Just as one decision can change your destiny, so can one prayer. In fact, you are one prayer away from a totally different life!
Before you were even born, even named, many of you had parents and grandparents who prayed for you. At critical ages and stages, family and friends interceded on your behalf. The sum total of those prayers is your prayer genealogy.
My grandfather, Elmer Johnson, died when I was just six years old, but his prayers did not. Our prayers never die! They live on in the lives of those we prayed for. Some of the most poignant and providential moments in my life have been the moments when the Spirit of God whispered to my spirit: Mark, the prayers of your grandfather are being answered in your life right now.
Grandpa had a habit of kneeling by his bed at night, taking off his hearing aid and praying for his family. He couldn't hear himself, but everyone else in the house could. Few things are more powerful than hearing someone intercede on your behalf. His voiceprint left an imprint on my soul.
I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have inherited a prayer legacy from their parents or grandparents like I did, but you can leave a legacy for future generations. And it's the greatest legacy you can leave!
I believe there are circles you can pray around your children — everything from praying a hedge of protection to praying the promises of God. But let me share a simple starting point: Go back to the Bible. The Bible wasn't just meant to be read. It was meant to be prayed. Scripture is the best script for our prayers!
If you'd ask me what I pray for more than anything else, the answer is the favor of God. While it's difficult to describe or define, the favor of God is what God can do for you that you cannot do for yourself.
When our oldest child, Parker, was a baby, I turned Luke 2:52 into a prayer blessing. This verse says, "Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people" (NLT). And I have circled my children with this prayer thousands of times: May you grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with man.
I realize Luke 2:52 isn't a promise, but I think I'm on sound theological ground to use it as a prayer for my children. This one verse is a time-lapse of Jesus' development as a child, and we're called to be just like Jesus. So why wouldn't I turn it into a blessing and pray it around my children?
Parenting is hard and many days I feel like a complete failure. But prayer covers our shortcomings. So let me say it one more time: you'll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. And those collective prayers are the greatest legacy you can leave.
Lord, help me let go of my desire to be a perfect parent and, with Your help, become a praying parent. Show me in Your Word what I should pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What are your deepest desires for your children? What are God's desires for your children?
Identify them and use God's Word to pray circles around your children.
Luke 2:52, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (NIV)