Praying As We Parent
My baby is 2 years old and she has been a wonderful addition to our family. Like any first time parents we are enamoured by her. We could probably map out every day of her short life in photos that we have taken almost daily since she was born. We marvel at the glory of God in creation as we watch her grow and develop.
Yet our awe and wonder has been mingled with fear and anxiety. As she grows I increasingly become aware of the incredible responsibility God has given my husband and I as stewards over this little life. This responsibility was less obvious when she was a helpless babe and all I had to do was feed, bath and change her. Now that she can speak, negotiate, throw tantrums and express her feelings, my role in her life is evolving from primarily being a caregiver to a more formative influence.
I realise that what I am doing now and for the next 16 years or so will largely determine her experiences and worldview. The kind of wife and mother she will become one day; I would have modelled that for her. The kind of citizen, student, employee she becomes; her convictions or lack thereof; her fears and failures; I would have played a big role in shaping that. And that’s a scary thought.
I was saved in my mid 20s and often when I look back on my life I wish the Lord would have saved me at a younger age so that I could have avoided the many pitfalls of a life lived without Christ. I know that Christ has saved me completely and washed all my sins away but I also know that one of the consequences of sin is that we get to live with the memories and sometimes the consequences of our misdeeds. This is probably my greatest fear for my daughter; that the allure of the world would draw her heart away from Christ.
But our fears and anxieties are only debilitating when we do not subject them to the scrutiny of scripture. God promises us a peace that surpasses all understanding when we surrender our anxieties to him through prayer. (Philippians 4:6). I am learning to pray and lean on Jesus to overcome my fears. I pray grand prayers and I prayer small prayers. When I pray grand prayers, I ask the Lord to save my baby at a young age and spare her the regret of living a wasted life, that she may own Christ as her King long before the world claims her heart. I pray that He may rescue her from the mistakes that I am going to make and let not my fears and inhibitions limit her possibilities.
But I confess that the little prayers are the ones I find myself praying more often. In his book on marriage, “What did you Expect? Redeeming the realities of marriage”, Paul Tripp says that marriage is made up of many little moments. He adds further that “the character of a life is not set in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments.” I think of parenting in the same way. It’s the daily, ordinary moments where character is formed and relationship built. It’s choosing to be patient when she poops in her panties for the umpteenth time. To not snap when she says an emphatic “No!” and walks away while I’m speaking to her. Or simply persevering in teaching her ABCs when it looks like she isn’t listening. I pray for daily (sometimes minute by minute) patience, kindness and humility.
My hope is that over her lifetime these ordinary moments that we share will be woven into a beautiful tapestry of grace and Christlikeness. I know I will fumble and fail along the way but by God’s help I pray that the evidence will point overwhelmingly towards a life lived in dependence on Christ.