Like many other families, we are trudging back into school this week after a great summer. For our part, our kids seem neither despondent nor over the moon, but somewhere in the middle. They’ve had a great summer, but they’re also ready for a change, and ready to get onto the new possibilities this year in school will bring. So here they come – a rising 7th grader, 5th grader, and 2nd grader.
Here are some of the prayers we are praying for them as they begin this year:
1. Free these children from the idol of popularity.
Oh, how seductive is this idol. I still feel the pain of knowing when someone doesn’t think well of me for some reason, and even as an adult I feel the tug toward compromise if it means being well-liked. Even while feeling that temptation, I remember well the intense desire to be invited to the right lunch table or the best birthday party. I’m praying that our kids would, by God’s grace, find their worth and identity in Jesus rather than in the “likes” they receive from others.
2. Guard their hearts from materialism.
It’s inevitable that kids are going to come in contact with others who have different brands of clothing, whose parents drive different cars, and who live in different sized houses. The love of money is fostered and nurtured from a very young age, most of the time through comparison with others. We are praying that the Lord would guard these growing hearts from this and instead would help them to learn a sense of gospel-centered contentment in any situation.
3. Help them see our home as a safe place.
In classes, on the court, in the band, and most other places the kids will encounter a spirit of competition in which they will not only be tempted, but encouraged to be the best, whatever that means in that particular environment. But, please Lord, may our home be a safe place. Help them to see that at home, they can be themselves, with all their insecurities, fears, and hurts they could never show somewhere else lest they be considered weak.
4. Create in them a desire to communicate.
“Fine.” That’s the dreaded, but common, answer that often comes when a parent asks their children about their day. We continue to pray that our kids would go past this stock answer – that they would communicate honestly with us about the real things that are going on in their lives. We continue to pray that, because our home is safe, our children will confide in us the things they aren’t willing or able to say anywhere else.
5. Teach them perseverance through their studies.
With each grade jump, the homework seems to grow more and more intense. While I’m still able to help our second grader with his math, our seventh grader has moved beyond my capacity. That’s a difficult thing for me, but it’s an opportunity for them to learn a greater lesson for life. The perseverance to keep at it, though it means hard work, will prove (I think) even more valuable in the years to come than their mastery of the quadratic formula.
6. Help them understand more deeply the greater purpose of education.
I remember the tunnel-vision of the teenage years, how you can only focus on what is immediately relevant to you at a given moment. Those were the days when life seemed to begin and end with each test or game or whatever. But in education, as with all things, there is a greater purpose for those who know Jesus. That greater purpose is to honor God through stewarding the resources He’s given us, including our brainpower. Education is a means to love the Lord our God in yet another way and glorify Him through the effort we bring to the task in front of us. We are praying that God would, by His grace, begin to expand our children’s vision for this greater purpose.
These are not the only prayers to pray as this school year begins, but it’s a start. And while we’re on the subject of prayer, here’s an extra one that I’m praying for myself and my wife as we get going in another fall:
Help us, Lord, to represent your kindness, compassion, discipline, and forgiveness that you perfectly display in the gospel through the way we parent our children.
May it be so, Lord.