“Please, Lord, help him sleep through the night. Keep him safe and healthy. Amen”
This is the end of the prayer I pray for my son before I lay him down to sleep. I’ve prayed this prayer every single day since he was born. Mostly, I emphasize the “sleep through the night” part and sometimes this is the first of the prayers for the night. Many nights I’d pray this particular part four, five, six times as he’d wake screaming through his first year of life.
“Please, Lord, help him sleep through the night. Please, God. I’m so tired.”
And yet, this particular night, with his warm body snuggled close, the words left my mouth and created an ache in my heart. The Holy Spirit dug deep, stinging me to my core. How selfish my prayers. Yes, he wants us to communicate with him in our deep need and as a new mom, sleep is a very deep need. But even deep needs can turn into deep sin. Even justified wants can turn into idolatry. For a solid year and a half, I prayed for sleep, but how many times have I prayed for my child’s salvation?
We prayed nine months for his life. And nine months before that, we prayed to conceive. While he was within me, I prayed for his health and safety, yes, but I also prayed for him to have a heart for God. I prayed for him to know him on the deepest levels a mortal can here on earth. I prayed for him to come to know him at an early age and for his heart to be a sponge in the ways of God.
And yet, here I am, eighteen months later, and I’ve forgotten the most important prayer a mother can pray. I’ve forgotten the eternal in exchange for the carnal. I’ve prayed for sleep, when I should be praying for life. Because that’s what salvation is – not just the reward of heaven, but the glory and mercy of feeling Christ’s breath on you in the very broken world we live in.
So, as I laid my son down, I prayed for his salvation. And I will continue to ever single day and night. Because sleep is a temporary need, but salvation is an eternal one. And there is no greater responsibility of a parent, no greater gift one can give their children – than to lead them to the Lord.
The Bible tells us that Issac was forty years old when he married Rebekah. For twenty years he intreated the Lord for a child. Twenty years of prayer proceeded the double miracle of twins. Twenty years of faithfulness produced in the waiting. And as much as we intreat the Lord for the desires of our hearts, how much more should we beg his mercy and salvation for the answer to our prayers – our children’s souls.
While all human beings have free will, 94% of decisions to follow God occur before the age of 18 (The Barna Group). There is no time like the present to pray for your child’s heart and fervently pray, we must. If we want our children to be faithful stewards of the Gospel and make an impact on the world, we must first be faithful models ourselves. Salvation is the Lord’s but our own personal spiritual lives as parents has a profound impact on whether or not our children will see Christ in our homes.
Charles Spurgeon was known as The Prince of Preachers or as my husband likes to call him “the man.” However, before he became world renowned for his theology and preaching, he was first a rebellious young boy. His mother’s heart ached for his salvation. The book The Power of a Pleading Mother (Christian Men and Their Godly Moms) recounts one instance in which she wrapped her arms around her son and cried out “Oh, that my son might live before Thee!”
Spurgeon later said of his mother:
You, my Mother, have been the great means in God’s hand of rendering me what I hope I am. Your kind, warning Sabbath-evening addresses were too deeply settled on my heart to be forgotten. You, by God’s blessing, prepared the way for the preached Word.. I love you as the preacher to my heart of such courage, as my praying, watching Mother.C.H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography: Compiled from His Diary, Letters and Records
Prayer is powerful.
1. A Prayer for Salvation
Lord, thank you for the precious gift of salvation that is only found in Jesus Christ. I pray for my child’s heart and soul. I pray for my child’s heart to be softened to the Gospel. Draw my child to you right now. May my child know your love and know you are the only one who saves. May my child begin a relationship with you that lasts for all eternity. Help my child have child-like faith and trust in you.
2. A Prayer for Sanctification
Lord, as my child grows taller and stronger and more independent, may my child also grow in discernment and love for you. Give my child a passion for your Holy Word. May my child study your word to know you and love you deeper. Help my child not grow hardened or apathetic to your word. Keep my child’s heart softened to the transformative work of your Spirit. Help my child be humble before you, submitting to you and trusting and relying on you in all they do.
3. A Prayer for Purity
Lord, create in my child a clean heart. Help my child recognize sin in their heart and confess their need for you. Keep my child’s mind, body, and soul pure. Give my child a new heart and protect my child from temptation. Guard my child’s mouth, eyes, mind, and heart. Continually bring my child back to you. Protect my child from evil. Help my child put on the full armor of God to fight against the attacks of the enemy. Help my child please you with the meditations and thoughts of heart and deed.
4. A Prayer for Discipleship
Lord, help my child seek to please you, not man. Give my child an eternal perspective. Help my child fulfill the purpose and calling you have given them. I pray that my child will set their mind on you and the mission of making disciples. Help my child to never be ashamed of you or the Gospel no matter what. Help my child understand and grow in their faith. Challenge and equip my child to press deeper and deeper into you and help my child share your love to all they come in contact with. May my child be a faithful follower of Christ.
Becoming a mom made me realize just how little control I have. Despite all my research and planning, my child has his own personality and will and drive. I couldn’t make my child nap at the exact time I wanted for the exact length I wanted. I couldn’t make my child eat what I wanted my child to eat. There isn’t much I can control at all. Control as a parent is an illusion. But there is something that I can do – I can pray for my child.
I can’t control how my child will respond to the Gospel, but I can show my child God’s love each and every day. I can speak Truth over my child. I can expose my child to God and make church a priority. I can be a witness to my child. I can disciple my child. This, I can do. This, I will do. Because God matters. Salvation matters. My child’s future is at stake and I will do everything possible to raise my child in the ways of the Lord.
A Prayer for Mothers
Lord, I thank you for loving my child even more than I do. I thank you for the transformative and redeeming work of salvation. I pray that you will equip me to shepherd my child’s heart. You gave me the gift and responsibility of discipling my child’s young soul and I pray for the endurance and wisdom to best show my child your love and the precious gift of Jesus. I entrust my child to you and pray that your Spirit will convict my child’s heart. Help me teach my child submission by submitting to you. May the deepest desire of my heart be to see my child embrace the Savior I love and serve. Equip me to be a missional mother. Equip me in my lack. Help me be a missionary to the little ones entrusted to me. May I get on my knees and pray like never before – fighting war against the enemy who would love nothing better than to rob my child of the greatest gift known. Use me, Lord, and may you have all the glory and honor.
The motherhood to which every Christian woman is called is making disciples of all nations. We all must labor, prayerfully expectant that God will mercifully grant people new birth in Christ. Because Jesus is worthy to receive worship from the image bearers he has created, every human being is worthy of our labor and care in this endeavor of discipleship. In this sense there is no Christian woman who is child-free. We pass on the gospel to the next generation of worshipers, who will pass on the gospel to the next generation, and so on. The aim of our motherhood is to declare the good news to the next generation, “to a people yet unborn” (Ps. 22:31). We pass on the gospel because we know it is the only thing that will give our children the strength and motive to give their own lives in making disciples.Gloria Furman, Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God
So, get on your knees, momma. Pray like it matters. Because it does.