As Christian parents, we have a lot of parenting tools at our fingertips. In fact, you can discover 20 different effective parenting tools right here on CfP.
But while all of these are very helpful in the area of implementation, they are only surface tools. They don’t tend to penetrate very deep . . . kind of like a trowel or hoe in a garden bed.
Experienced gardeners address both the soil’s surface and its depths. A hoe can help turn over the soil, but it’s the lime and fertilizer that will make the plants grow.
So how does all of this apply to parenting? Well, like gardening, parenting requires the right tools for the right purpose. If we focus our energy solely on perfecting time outs, demanding outward obedience and the like, we will only be scratching the surface.
So what’s the most important too for Christian parents? It’s…
Prayer is the premier parenting tool in your tool box. By the power of the Spirit, it has the ability to simultaneously address the surface and the soil.
The first step in any parenting task needs to be prayer. This doesn’t have to be a formal affair with flowery and fancy language. It is a raw, come-as-you-are, lay-it-all-out communication with our Mighty Maker and best Friend. It can be as simple as a “help me Lord” or as complicated as a long needed confession and re-alignment with the will of God.
We are instructed to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). But if prayer were only a formal conversation with God, this instruction would be unreasonable – we could get nothing else accomplished in our day. Instead, prayer is meant to be an on-going dialogue, where we “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
At its very foundation, prayer is submission to Someone greater. When we pray, we are admitting that we cannot manage on our own.
So what does prayer look like in the daily life of a Christian parent? How can we use this essential tool from morning to night?
How to incorporate prayer as a Christian parent
There definitely is no formula for how to use this wonderful parenting tool, but here are some suggestions on what “praying without ceasing” might look like in the day-to-day life of a busy Christian parent.
Before your rise, lie in bed and commit your interactions with your children to the Lord. Ask for patience and a kind tone.
Thank God that the cereal box Johnny dropped was closed.
Thank God that you have enough food to feed your family when Johnny spills the contents of the cereal box on your freshly washed floor.
Pray with each child as you prepare for the school day.
When your little lawyer stumps you or catches you in a verbal trap, ask God for the wisdom to find your way out.
Thank God that you handled that situation better than the day before.
When Sally hits Johnny take a moment to ask God what to do next.
When worries about finances creep in, lower your head and pray that you will, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
Tell God you don’t know how you are going to find time to get the grocery shopping done. Ask Him to show you a way.
When frustration at your child bubbles over, ask God to give you His eyes of compassion.
When you tuck your children in at night, pray for the presence of God to fill their hearts and minds.
As you settle into bed, thank God for the gift of grace, the gift of His sufficiency, the gift of prayer . . . and the gift of sleep.
When your day is bathed in prayer, it doesn’t guarantee that everything will go smoothly. But it does guarantee that you realize that God is in charge and you are not. And a day when God has the reins will always be for your good.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Prayer is not meant to be a burden, but rather a life line that helps you up when you fall, gives you direction when you get lost and pulls you along when you would rather just sit down where you are. If you are struggling with your prayer life – talk to God about it. If you can’t even do that, ask others to intercede on your behalf. God always hears. God always answers.