People pray for their children to be happy, safe, and successful. My wife and I eventually learned to pray for God’s intersection into the lives of our children in tangible ways. ◊
The young school girl was devastated when she was rejected by her clique of middle-school friends. She sought comfort from her mother who assured her that she would get through this and encouraged her to pursue new friends and relationships. Of course this is easier said than done. For her and her parents. It’s always painful for parents to watch their own children experience pain and rejection. As her father, I wanted to have a word or two with my daughter’s ex-friends and let them know that they were so wrong to reject my little girl. Gladly for all involved, I never did this, but one can imagine the desire to protect and defend.
The freshman young man was moved into his Southern California cool college dorm by his parents. As the oldest of 3 children and the first to leave home for college, his parents lamented his departure but were excited about his forging into the next stage of his blossoming life. They encouraged him to stay connected to his Christian faith and hopefully find friends on campus that could encourage his faith and get him involved with like-minded people. Realistically, as his father, I knew there was going to be ample opportunity for his faith to be challenged, questioned, and even rejected. I knew that he was no longer going to be under our watch and control.
This very week I was reminded of these 2 very real scenarios that occurred in our family years ago. While discussing with other men their modern drama and trauma with their own teenage children, the conversation brought back memories of the common emotions all parents have that run the gamut of fear, anger, frustration, worry, and loss.
The men asked for advice on their situations.
I shared with them something better than advice. I told them the outcomes to these 2 stories about my daughter and one of my sons and the beginnings of profound lessons learned by both my wife and I (and ultimately our children) about God and the power of prayer.
Over twenty years ago I was not a “prayer warrior” by any means. Oh, I prayed, but like many of us, I gave it good lip-service and fired up good arrow-prayers when I needed help or a situation warranted some God focus. While thinking I was strong in faith, I was actually only slightly above average in the implementation of faith in my life and the encouragement of faith in my own family. At that time I was a busy guy, but I had good intentions and was even leading group Bible study sessions and helping out musically with the church youth programs.
But if I had to rate my prayer life, I’d give myself a B-, maybe a C+. I knew the drill, but was good at going through good motions rather than living with deep dependency on God in all things in my life.
Then my wife and I started praying together.
We started praying while we jogged around the streets of our neighborhood. Eyes wide-open taking turns sharing our thoughts, concerns and petitions before God. The impetus for this new outdoor prayer practice was the new issues and challenges we and our teenage children were facing. Life was getting scary and dangerous and risky. I was starting a new business out of my home and we now had the time to spend 3 or 4 days a week running the neighborhood together and ramping up our prayer life.
It made a huge difference in our lives. There was no magic recipe involved. Just a practical change of approach combined with a real definitive mind shift. One new specific change for me was to pray for God’s Holy Spirit to intersect into our lives.
The Prayer of Intersection
I remember starting to ask God in prayer to bring people to me that would be the right people for me to meet. Likewise for my children. I prayed for people that God would put in place specifically to intersect our lives and help us stay on track. I started to see God move in ways that were more than coincidental; in ways that were specific answers to prayers that played out beyond the expected, with implications for the short and long term.
For my daughter, after her fallout with those middle-school friends, I prayed that God would bring a new friend or friends that would help her forget the pain of her rejection. Nothing dramatic happened. She weathered middle-school, and then in high school a new girl moved into the area who befriended my daughter and invited her to study the Bible together after school. Looking back, my daughter says that this period of Bible study with that friend was the basis for a major shift in her relationship with God. That new girl only lived in the area for a brief time before she and her family moved out of town.
For my son, during his second week at college, I felt the urge to pray for God to bring a Christian into his life; that he would somehow intersect with someone on that giant campus and get plugged into a Christian community on campus. A few days later I was talking to him on the phone and he told me: “Dad, a very odd thing happened the other day. I was walking across the quad and suddenly this one guy makes a path directly to me and asks me if I’d like to join a Bible study with him and some other guys on campus. I think I’m going to go check it out.” I told him about my specific prayer. We were both somewhat awed by this. While this Bible study did not last long or revolutionize his life, we could both see that God answers prayer and wants to be involved in the details of all of our lives.
In hindsight now, I see the evolution of my understanding of God’s desire, power, love, and creativity in intersecting the lives of His beloved. We often are not fully paying attention. Even so, He loves us and patiently waits for us, His children, to wake up and step into His fullness. With this knowledge of our loving God, why would anyone not hold up their own children in prayer and submit them into the protective and loving arms of God, our great Heavenly Father?
Are you praying for God to intersect the lives of your children?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6