Nothing will bolster your prayer life like becoming a parent. I remember vividly how, 18 years ago, a nurse wheeled my wife out of a hospital in Birmingham, AL, and waited with her and our newborn son while I went to get the car.
And then she left.
And then it was just the three of us, and I’ve never driven so carefully in my entire life. The thought that we had been entrusted with another person – another life – was overwhelming to me, and it became even more so when I began to consider all the things that we simply out of our control as parents.
As much as we wanted to protect our son, to nurture him, to make him happy, there would always be unforeseen circumstances and threats that we could not insulate him from. So what do you do when that realization hits you?
You pray. And your prayers for your children only get more fervent as they grow older. So you pray for their faith. For their friendships. For their growth. For their health. And for a host of other things. But in recent days, I have found myself praying increasingly for something else in the lives of our children:
That is, Perseverance. Stick-to-it-ness. Persistence. Courage in the midst of adversity.
There are many reasons why I think I’ve felt burdened to pray this for our kids, but those reasons mainly boil down to two:
Firstly, because fortitude is one of the marks of those who follow Jesus. Those who have faith are those who persevere. Those who genuinely believe are those who are willing to stick it out, even when circumstances are hard and opposition is stiff. And though there are many biblical passages that extol that kind of virtue, I think particularly about the simple word given to the Hebrews, a group of people who were struggling with their own sense of fortitude:
We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end (Heb. 3:14).
We want our kids to be firm in their faith all the way until the Lord brings them home. This is fortitude, that they have continued on despite the various off-ramps they will inevitably encounter.
And those off ramps are the second reason why we should pray for fortitude – it’s because we live in a culture of escape. To go one step further, we live in a culture that is increasingly defined by our feelings. We eat what we feel like, like who we feel like, and even define truth by what we feel like. And when those feelings change, we hit the eject button on that relationship or church or belief system or whatever. In a culture constantly shifting like sand due to the unstable nature of our own hearts, fortitude is in short supply.
Against that backdrop, we want kids who stand. Firmly planted by their roots, they do not break; they do not run; they do not constantly seek escape when the studies or the relationship or the truth becomes difficult. They stand. And so as parents, we pray for that sense of fortitude. May God grant it for our kids and for yours:
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit (Jer. 17:7-8).