How to Pray for Your Children and Grandchildren

We all pray for our children. We want them to do well in school, or to get a good job, or to stay healthy. But their greatest need for prayer is their spiritual lives.

The longer I am a parent, the more I see the truth in the Apostle John’s words:

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. —3 John 4

How to Pray for Your Children and Grandchildren

(Photo by Photodune)

If our children have a genuine walk with God, they will be better equipped to make wise choices throughout their lives. Our challenge, then, is how to pray for our children in this way.

When our daughters were only toddlers, Cathy and I participated an excellent parenting class that gave us a handout called: “How to Pray for Your Children.” We prayed through this list for years. In fact, as I read through each point today, I can remember specific instances in which God answered the prayers. He is still answering them.

I have edited the list and added some verses to it. I have also made a PDF you can download and print to keep in your Bible or prayer journal.

It’s never too late to begin praying for your children—and your grandchildren.

It is one of the greatest investments you will ever make into their lives.

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What I’ve Learned Since I Became Omniscient

Because God is all-wise, we should be all-trusting.

As a teenager, I knew everything. You could even say I was omniscient. I marveled at the incompetence of adults on the simplest issues. They just didn’t get it. And then I grew up, and something strange happened. I discovered that as an omniscient person, I still had a lot to learn.

What I’ve Learned Since I Became Omniscient

(Photo by Photodune)

So many times I stood so sure of myself only to discover how woefully ignorant I was.

  • I knew a lot about the Bible until I went to seminary. It turns out, the more I learned, the less I knew.
  • I knew everything about marriage until I got married. But matrimony is course in art, not science. I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.
  • I was an expert on parenting until I had kids. Parenting offers a long course of study on your own selfishness.

I’ve learned a lot since I became omniscient. But you know where that omniscient teenager resurfaces the most in my life? The same place it shows itself in your life.

When we’re talking to God.

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I am excited about serving as a Bible teacher on one of the buses for the Insight for Living 2014 Israel Tour. We’ll also have an optional pre-tour extension to the Red Sea and southern Israel. See the details below and plan to join me in Israel.

Be sure and request to be on my bus!

Date: March 10, 2014—March 21, 2014
Event: Insight for Living 2014 Israel Tour and Pre-Tour Red Sea Experience
Topic: Download a complete brochure here.
Sponsor: Insight for Living Ministries
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Your Power has a Purpose

Leonard Bernstein, the late great conductor of the New York Philharmonic, once was asked: “Mr. Bernstein, what is the most difficult instrument to play?”

Your Power has a Purpose

(Photo by Photodune)

He replied:

Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.

Bernstein nailed the problem—not only in music, but in all relationships.

Very few are willing to be second, because being second requires someone else to be first, which requires giving instead of taking.

In the movie Schindler’s List, one of the most powerful scenes shows Oskar Schindler is speaking with a Nazi commander who had a habit of impulsively shooting Jews.

Watch this scene and think about the power you have in your life.

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Walking Atop the Walls of Jerusalem

I have seen the Old City of Jerusalem from every direction. From the north on Mount Scopus. From the east on the Mount of Olives. From the south at the Haas Promenade. From the west atop the Citadel. I’ve even flown above it in a helicopter.

But the most unique way I’ve seen the city is from atop its walls.

Walking Atop the Living Walls of Jerusalem

(Photo: Atop the wall of Jerusalem ramparts. Photo by James Foo)

A visitor can walk atop most of the Old City wall of Jerusalem, accessed at the Jaffa Gate and Damascus Gate. The walk has railings on the inside and high stone walls on the outside, so safety is assured. Explanatory signs along the way give understanding to the history that occurred nearby.

More than once, I’ve walked on the ramparts, a matchless and wonderful way to see both inside and outside the Old City.

This quick tour travels atop the wall of Jerusalem from the Jaffa Gate to the Dung Gate.

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Remember The End of the Story of Your Life

I’ve probably seen Jaws a dozen times since 1976. And yet every time I watch it my heart pounds as I imagine myself as the scuba diver in that flimsy “anti-shark cage.”

Even though I’ve seen the ending twelve times—and I know the shark blows up—seeing those gaping jaws rip apart that cage still makes me nervous.

For most of us, our Great White isn’t a twenty-five foot fish. It’s an eighty-five year life.

Remember The End of the Story

(Photo by Alban, Own work, GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)

Our monsters are the dishes and diapers, the mowing and mood-swings, the finances and friends, the sicknesses and sadness, and of course, the incessant, ever-increasing “to-do” list.

Some of these nibble at you, and others take off a leg.

With such problems as we have in the Christian life, it’s not hard to feel caged and wide-eyed at the monsters that threaten your joy.

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God gives us dreams, but sometimes we let those dreams take control of us and we stop seeking God’s heart. We need to learn how to wait on God—a critically important step to prevent the dream itself from becoming an idol. Indeed, our greatest impact only happens when we seek God, not impact.

David Timms
Sacred Waiting: Waiting on God in a World that Waits for Nothing (Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition., 2009)

How to Keep the Little Things from Making You a Slacker

A euphemism is a nice way of saying something unpleasant. We’ll say: “He’s under the weather,” or “She passed away,” or “I misspoke,” when really we mean to say he’s sick, she died, and I lied.

How to Keep the Little Things from Making You a Slacker

(Photo by Photodune)

I’ve never found a good euphemism for a lazy person. Maybe slacker. At best we have a few obscure expressions—lounger, laggard, drone—but these work only because we don’t know what they mean. And if we did, we’d wish we didn’t.

A lot of what I’ve learned about what’s best to do in life has come from observing mistakes. Even though a slacker would never have the self-discipline to give a lecture, we can receive a whole course of study simply by observing his or her lazy life.

Here are several key lessons we can learn from Mr. Lazybones that will keep us motivated from becoming lazy.

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The Wall Around Your Heart

The Wall Around Your Heart [Book Review] (Thomas Nelson, 2013)

When Jesus traveled the hills of Galilee in the early days of His ministry, He had one primary message: “Repent, for the King of Heaven is at hand.” The Sermon on the Mount provided His unequivocal standard for entering the kingdom He offered: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). He then showed Himself as the only means of entry (7:13-14).

Tucked away in that sermon is a model prayer of humility and dependence that comes in the context of trusting God to meet true needs. The prayer stands as a complete opposite of the showy prayers of the scribes and Pharisees.

Mary DeMuth takes the prayer a step further by writing on the topic of each phrase of Jesus’ prayer and applying the principles of these topics to relationships—particularly to ones that have hurt us.

The Wall Around Your Heart speaks to the separation we’ve all encountered and the walls we have erected around our hearts to protect us from the pain of people. Although the Lord’s Prayer didn’t have relational pain as its primary purpose, the prayer covers areas of need in our lives that certainly apply to relationships. In fact, the part of the prayer that asks our Father for forgiveness is one that Jesus elaborates on immediately after the prayer (5:14-15). The Lord’s Prayer usually causes us to zero in on the forgiveness element of dealing with others, but there is more to the Lord’s Prayer than forgiveness—though that’s a great takeaway.

Each phrase is coupled with a relational principle to apply. Can you guess which part of the Lord’s Prayer goes with what principle?

  1. Pray first
  2. Live in Your Father’s Affection
  3. Allow God to be God
  4. Walk in the Great Right Now
  5. Respond Like Jesus
  6. Let Heaven Frame Your Relationships
  7. Ask Jesus for Help
  8. Be Repentant
  9. Defy Bitterness
  10. Dare to Engage Anyway
  11. Be Fully Alive

DeMuth points us to understand and embrace God’s love for us so that we can reach out and love others. We can’t love from an empty place. We give others what God has given us.

My favorite quote from the book:

Everything that hurts us on earth has the potential, when we let God put His hands in the conflict, to bless the world. In short, we hurt, and God heals, which makes us an agent of healing. (p. 116)

Mary is a gifted writer. Her new book describes how God heals the pain in our relationships through the very community that caused it.

Tell me what you think: Have you found the body of Christ to help you where community has hurt you? To leave a comment, just click here.

The Grand Tetons, September 2013

Cathy and I just returned from vacation in Wyoming and Montana. We stayed with some friends in their cabin and enjoyed some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen. (taken with my iPhone 5 and I did no touching up of the photo!)