I've been thinking about my role as a mother and what that means beyond the sort of mundane dailiness of what it takes to care for my daughter. Do I pray enough for her...for her future? And while I want every nice thing for my daughter, I know that the nicest clothes, the latest, greatest toys, belonging to the best playgroups having just the right friends, being a part of just the right activities doesn't add up to a hill of beans where her eternity is concerned! Yet, do I take that literally? Am I doing things that outwardly make me seem like a good mother, that others can brag about or marvel at? Sometimes it seems that way. Or am I in my prayer closet, in secret, praying for her. No one sees that. If they could, would I do it more? Just questions I'm asking of my own heart. So far, I'm not liking what I see. But I'm seeking better for my daughter.
Do I pray enough for her health? What about her school experience? Will I have equipped her to handle mean kids, judging teachers, failure, being gracious when she has successes, to do her very best? And her teenage years? Will she be good and kind to others? Will she be liked? Will she have some talents and/or abilities that make her feel special...that keep her out of trouble? Will she allow boys, as I did, to take advantage of her, hurt her? Or will she be a strong young woman with unshakable character? Will she marry a wonderful young man and have beautiful children of her own?
See, knowing what I know about the Kingdom of God, I don't believe all these things are left to chance. What if RIGHT NOW, when she's just 2 years old, we start to do something IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM to shape our daughter's future?
What if my husband and I fasted and prayed specifically for our daughter each week, consistently? What kind of battles could be fought and won in the spiritual? I will probably never know this side of Heaven, but Daniel gives us a clue as to what spiritual warfare happens on our behalf when we fast and pray...
1 "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. 2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come."
I am so excited by what the angel said, "From the first day....your prayers were heard!" And right then he went to battle on Daniel's behalf! If we start fasting and praying now for our daughter, what battles might the great angels be fighting for her? She may never have to endure some of the evil things that kids today experience. Giving up a day of food a week so that my child can have a more victorious life seems like a pretty small price to pay to me!
The book, Night Light for Parents by Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, is a daily devotional meant to be read with your spouse together at night. I have his other book Night Light which is for couples, but am interested in getting the one for parents as well because there seems to be some amazing wisdom there. They talk about praying and fasting specifically for your children in a section called, "Passing on the Faith,"
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV
"When confronted with the awesome responsibilities of parenthood, not to mention the incredible evil in today's world, it's no surprise that many parents feel an urgent need to pray continually for their children. When Danae was about three years old, Jim and I realized that as parents we needed divine help. We began fasting and praying for Danae, and later for Ryan, almost every week (a practice that I continue to this day). Our prayer went something like this: "Lord, give us the wisdom to raise the precious children You have loaned to us, and above all else, help us bring them to the feet of Jesus. This is more important to us than our health or our work or our finances. What we ask most fervently is that the circle be unbroken when we meet in heaven."
God has not only heard this prayer, but also blessed it in ways we never anticipated. Our prayer time has become a project that Jim and I enjoy together, drawing us closer to each other as we draw closer to God. In addition, the act of fasting each week serves as an important reminder of our priorities: It's difficult to forget your highest values when one day out of seven is spent focusing entirely on them. Finally, our children were influenced by these acts of discipline. When they observed us fasting or praying, it gave us the opportunity to explain why we did these things, how much we loved them, and how much we loved and trusted the Lord.
God hears and honors,in His perfect timing, our petitions on behalf of our children. If you want the very best for your sons and daughters, I urge you to call on the greatest power in the universe in frequent prayer."
What great advice! And what a challenge for us all!
Here's another quote that I came across this week from the book, Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders...
But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly." Matthew 6:6
And our reward (here on earth at least) will be a child who is blessed and protected beyond what we could ever ask or think!
What do you say?