To answer further questions about praying for our children, I share a bit about some of the things I do. I find that the approach I take to praying for their needs changes frequently, depending on which of them is going through a tough “stage” and just how tough that stage happens to be on me, if you know what I mean!
My children are still learning to pray. Well, so am I! As a gift of love, I strive to pray for them with the words they do not yet have.
To give a sense of order to things, I set aside a certain day a week to pray for each child. I only have three children, so this works well for me. On Monday, I pray for Lonna. On Wednesday, I pray for Jared. On Friday, I pray for Hilary. (On Tuesday, I pray for my husband.) Not to say that I don’t pray for all of them on other days as well. I don’t ignore Jared’s needs just because it’s not a Wednesday! Setting a day apart for each of them gives me time to focus, though, and keeps me obedient.
Sometimes I pray for my children by just calling out to God for them with whatever words are on my heart. Sometimes I don’t need words. But, I have also found the following ways useful:
1) I use a variation of the Jesus Prayer. As part of my prayer rule, I pray the Psalms three different times a day. After I am finished with the appointed Psalms, I take my 50 bead wooden prayer rope and pray for whoever’s day it is. So, I say:
“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on your handmaiden, Lonna.” or
“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on the child of God, Hilary.” etc.
Throughout the rest of the day, as I pray the Jesus Prayer for myself, I will sometimes switch to praying it for them, especially if they have a specific need. Also, I find this useful for when my relationship is strained with that particular child. Praying for them continually helps me to put aside my emotions about the matter and to see the best way for me to handle any given situation. By praying for them, I’m praying for myself and needed wisdom.
2) I appeal to their patron saints. On the child’s day, I will also say specific prayers asking each child’s saint to pray for them. This might be at formal prayer times or another version of Jesus Prayer-like prayer of the heart.
“Most Holy St. Peter, pray to God for Jared!”
All of my children have icons of their patron saints over their beds. Sometimes, I will go into their rooms and pray at those icons. Sometimes, I will bring their saint’s icon out to the main icon corner, so I can light a candle in front of it and see it throughout the day.
3) I pray the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children every Thursday. Such a lovely prayer that speaks the desires of my mother’s heart. Prayers for them to grow in love for God, to not be distracted by the false influences around them, and to “be made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven”.
The Mother of God is such an example for me. I seek her often to teach me the ways of gentle and intentional motherhood. How easy it is to get distracted by the day to day struggles of just keeping everyone fed, satisfied, and in one piece! To mother intentionally, though, is to mother with one goal alone…to show my children Christ. I do that when I fix meals with love and attention. I do that when I clean the same reappearing mess for the thousandth time with a smile. I do that when I correct them with grace and gentleness. Even in the seemingly mundane, I can show them Christ…if I choose to do so. I can fill their every moment with Christ, if I allow Him to fill all of my own moments.
4) And that is the way I pray most for my children…by praying for myself. I have to attack my own passions head on, my own pride, vanity, sloth, and greed if I’m ever going to be able to serve my family with the love of Christ. Authentic mothering is a daily challenge and the prayer on my lips continually. When I’m overwhelmed and those precious cherubs have turned into snarly, abrasive teenagers or whining, shrieking preschoolers, I turn it all over to Christ. I pray that He will love them with the pure love I so often fail to give. That He will surround them with the peace that eludes my darkened soul. Many people are parents, but just because it’s common, doesn’t make it easy. On God we must depend. We must look to the examples of holy mothers and fathers before us. We must remember the Father and the Son.
I must pray for my children. When they cannot. When I love them but don’t really like them! In all places and at all times, I must pray for my children. No matter how many things I want to teach them and show them and give them, it all starts in this one place…that they have a mother who prays for them.