Praying Peace Over Our Children

Well, we made it through Halloween, and now “the holiday season” begins in earnest. This is the time of year I simultaneously anticipate and dread, both personally and as a parent. Intentional Parenting through the holidays brings a special set of challenges that include travel, overindulgence (of food and gifts), missed bedtimes, and, as always, The Santa Question. For our family, the concerns have moved past Grandma’s uncovered electrical outlets and into issues of greed (“She got more presents than me!”) and getting along with extended family members (“My cousin hit me!”).

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Praying Peace Over Our Children (c) Carole Sparks

Speaking of cousins, excitement and anxiety are clearly first cousins, and easily confused by those who don’t know them well. This year, I want to keep the excitement in check and the anxiety at bay by using Scripture to pray peace over my children. Even more current, our national elections are a week away (!), and there’s tension throughout the country. If your children are feeling it, use these prayers right away to remind them of Who is in control.

We can be confident that our prayers align with God’s Will when we repeat His Word back to Him…and there’s something about saying Scripture out loud that increases its impact for everyone who hears it. So pray for your children in front of them. Lay hands on them if you’re comfortable with that. Substitute your child’s name for “my child,” if you want. Join me in blessing and encouraging our children through these verses!

Read Philippians 4:4-7, then pray verse 7.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Dear God, I pray that your peace, which we will never completely understand, will guard the heart and mind of my child through the presence of Jesus, our Lord.

I love the active, protective image of peace here—that it shields our emotions and thoughts. Anxiety eats away at our emotional condition, but God’s peace keeps us whole…and wholly His.

Read John 14:26-27, then pray verse 27.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Lord Jesus, we understand that your peace remains with my child, that you have given it to him. Thank you that this gift of peace isn’t given in the way the world gives. Help him guard his heart against trouble and his mind against fear.

What’s notable here is the intentionality of Jesus’ gift. He knew we would feel anxious and afraid, and He doesn’t want that for us! Remember, too, that the world’s idea of peace is a cessation of hostilities, really the negative of fighting or war. Shalom (Hebrew for “peace”), on the other hand, is a sense of safety or well-being, a confidence in God’s sovereignty, and a contentment with our circumstances. So when you pray this over your children, you’re not simply asking God to help them quit fighting or that He’ll calm their anxiety; You’re asking that they will be content and confident in life. (This verse is so rich with meaning! Check out The Power of Peace.)

Read Psalm 4:6-8 (or the whole Psalm), then pray verse 8.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Heavenly Father, help my child to lie down and sleep now in your peace. You are the One Who keeps us safe, and we have confidence in you.

As king, David had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, not to mention enemies everywhere he turned. Through these next two months, there’s sure to be a lot on your mind and the minds of your children. With David’s words, we turn our focus from our concerns to God’s control, which leads to a better night’s sleep for everyone!

Read and then pray Romans 15:13.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I ask you, God, to fill my child with joy and peace as he increasingly learns to trust You. May the power of the Holy Spirit cause hope to overflow in him.

Look at the progression here. God fills us with joy and peace (two of the most common words of the Christmas season). The Holy Spirit then combines these two, resulting in hope. How’s that work? I don’t know, but isn’t it great?!? We can safely say, however, that there’s no real hope—no active, confidence-building hope—without joy and peace, which come from God.

This verse is also a great one to pray if you’re watching for your children’s readiness to accept Jesus as Savior and “boss of their lives” (a phrase we used instead of “Lord” when ours were little). Thanksgiving and Christmas create a spiritual openness in almost everyone. As your children hear about Jesus’ arrival on earth, be sure to emphasize the purpose of His coming. Talk about His love and faithfulness, leaving space for them to take steps of faith on their own. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in their heart so they accept God’s calling to follow Him.

In the next two months, many things will arise to distract us from the “peace on Earth” that Jesus brought. I hope you can use these simple verses to amplify peace in your children and within your home.

Now, on to the holiday list-making!

4 verses to pray, promoting peace in our children through the holidays. (click to tweet)

Are you like me and you find it difficult to maintain low stress levels during the holidays? What verses help you regain your peace or promote it in your family? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

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On Purity

As I tucked my then-nine-year-old into bed one night, she asked, “Mommy, what is purity?” Since we hadn’t had The Talk yet, and since her question wasn’t actually about sex, I hesitated.  I shot a silent prayer up to God for a simple, understandable answer and took a deep breath.

Whatever is noble . . . whatever is pure . . . think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

The phrases bounced into my head (not the reference—just the words), and I answered: “Purity is about keeping your thoughts pure, about never letting your mind dwell on things that God doesn’t like.”  (Or something like that.  It was a few years ago now, so I can’t remember word-for-word.)  She was satisfied, but the Lord launched me on a long-term thought process that continues to bear fruit in my mind.  It began with the conviction that purity is something much bigger than the box into which we have presently placed it.

Having started college in 1991, I was too late for True Love Waits. (You can go to the TLW blog here.)  I hear wonderful things about the movement, so don’t read this as a criticism of the program or the way God has used it to honor Himself in many lives.  True Love Waits espouses sexual purity, but we American Christians don’t even like to say the word “sexual”—much less talk about it—so somewhere in the last twenty years, “sexual purity” became just “purity” and we all knew what it meant.  But we lost something big when we did that.  We lost the rest of what purity really is.

Virginity is just one branch of the purity tree, and a low-hanging, usually-chopped-off branch at that. Is there no longer a need for purity after you get married?  That’s just ridiculous; of course there is.  And having sex within a marriage doesn’t make you impure.  (I wonder how many newlyweds have struggled with this . . .)  So we really need some expansion here.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart . . .  Psalm 24:3-4

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Matthew 5:8 (emphasis added on both)

Real purity allows us to stand unstained before God. It is about seeking God first, about not allowing anything to come between me and God.  It’s about keeping intimacy with God as my number-one objective and testing everything else to see how it contributes or detracts from that intimacy.  It’s about removing everything from my mind that is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Phil 4:8 again).  Real purity brings me closer to God.

What are the branches of the purity ‘tree’?  (Not an exhaustive list—I’m just brainstorming.)  But first, let’s assume that the one pursuing purity is a Christ-follower, rooted and built up in Him (Col 2:7).

  • integrity. This includes taking credit only for your own work, being honest, leaving others’ possessions alone, ‘owning’ your mistakes, and much more.
  • intimacy. It’s not just about intercourse.  God restrains what we share of our personal lives, family lives, physical bodies, and emotional situations.  He also limits what we need to see of others’ intimacy.  Mom and Dad kissing?  Fine and good.  Couple having sex on screen (especially at the movie theater, where it’s SO BIG!! . . . okay that might just be me)?  Not healthy.  Married women who look to each other rather than their husbands for secrets and support?  Not good.  The motivation behind that phrase, “technical virgin”?  Anathema.
  • interactions. Paul says, Let your gentleness be evident to all (Phil 4:5).  How we think of and speak to other people measures what is in our minds.  Thus, Jesus gave interactions the second-most-important place in obedience:  Love your neighbor as yourself (See Mark 12:29-31).  Furthermore, acts of violence are unacceptable; committing them–definitely, but even watching them . . . well, it’s something to consider.  Ask yourself, “Does the violence in this movie make it more difficult for me/my child to keep my/his mind pure?”
  • ideas. Sometimes Satan just throws sinful thoughts into our minds (especially if we have a less-than-pure past).  Entertaining them tarnishes our purity.
  • language. (Somebody PLEASE give me a word that starts with –i- for this point.  It’s driving me crazy!!)  If you expose yourself to an excess of coarse language, such terms sink into your mind and eventually come out of your mouth.  There’s a reason it’s called a “potty mouth”.

This list feels prescriptive, now that I’ve written it.  Just remember that it all begins in one’s mind; the key verse is Philippians 4:8.  Also, I was really trying to stay away from a list of negatives here, but if you want one, consider Colossians 3. Paul doesn’t specifically say “pure” or “purity” in that chapter, but look just before the list:  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col 3:1-2).  Isn’t this a great description of full-bodied purity? Set your heart and mind on Him. Wow.  I love it when the deluge of details boils down to something simple.

So sexual purity is important, of course, but it quickly descends into simple behavior modification and doesn’t focus on the heart of my preteen. The better approach will be to help our children focus on living a pure life with God-centered boundaries in every area, which honors Him and permits them to walk into adulthood with a mature and fruitful purity.