One of my first memories of “crying out” to God was at church camp in 1980 something. On day three, I was already homesick, sun burned, out of clean clothes, and hopped up on fountain drinks and Bible verses. It was beach day. With great enthusiasm, my friend pushed us off the sandy shore toward the middle of Crystal Lake. We reached the middle, but minus a paddle. In a noble effort to recover the lost paddle, I lost mine as well.
In an instant, I found myself helpless. Things are a little blurry after that. I do remember a well-meaning counselor standing on the shore shouting instructions to us. I also remember my friend laughing at the adventure we had found ourselves in. That’s when I started crying! I honestly do not remember how we made it safely to shore, but we did.
Sooner or later as parents, we discover that there are things in life outside of our control, beyond our strength, and greater than our wisdom. We feel a little bit like a kid at “sea” without a paddle. There are days, seasons, or circumstances that expose our inadequacies. We find ourselves helpless. This is where true prayer begins. Real prayer begins when we realize how powerless we really are. The paradox in the Bible though is that the helpless are also the hopeful. The helpless are faithfully hopeful in prayer because of who God is. The power to save, lead, provide, protect, and transform is ultimately found in God.
Prayer not only requires us to realize our powerlessness; it also requires our persistence. Luke 18:1 says, “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” It is interesting to note that Jesus was not only teaching them how to pray, but he was also teaching them how to keep on praying. The faithful parent is a persistent parent.
Several years ago, I dedicated a summer to reading a handful of biographies of men and women who were used mightily by God. One of them was the story of Hudson Taylor. Taylor was a British missionary who was called by God to serve in China. He would first step foot in Shanghai in 1854 at the age of 21. Taylor would go on to spend 51 years serving as a missionary in China, eventually founding the China Inland Mission. Long before he was missionary, his biography tells the story of a faithful parent who prayed persistently for her young son.
One night, his mother, away visiting friends in another town, felt a renewed urgency to pray specifically for the salvation of her son. While many miles away, his mother slipped away to the privacy of another room, pleaded for several hours with God on behalf of her son. Days later, God would save young Hudson Taylor and open his eyes to the finished work of Jesus on his behalf. He would also soon discover that not only had his mom been praying for him, but his sister had been as well.
This story, along with many others, reminds me that God has chosen prayer as one of the means by which He works through to accomplish His purposes. As parents, we need to humbly and fervently be faithful in prayer for our children. As Paul writes in Romans 12:12, we are to be “Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
We cannot give our children faith, but we can give them faithfulness in prayer.