This article is part of the How to Pray series.
New Season, New Prayer Requests
Though we generally delight in summer, summer also presents challenges for parenting. Prolonged daylight hours with delayed bedtimes, more loosely structured schedules, ticks and mosquitoes . . . such things introduce struggles into the mix, and as they say, What’s a mother to do?
It helps to ask, Why did God invent summer? He did it because summer has a unique way of bringing him glory and affording us (and our children) tailor-made opportunities to grow in Christlikeness. As my next-door neighbor (John Piper) says, “Summer is for seeing and savoring Christ.”
What’s unique about summer? For one thing, most kids are outdoors more. There they encounter bugs, scrapes, sunburn, and water. In normal circumstances, some children pack up and are sent off to Bible camp, with all of its relational dynamics (good and bad), risk of contagious germs, and a garden variety of difficulties ideal for growing up. Some children are packing for college or the military and saying their farewells.
How shall we pray in the midst of these specific circumstances? That depends, of course, on your motives. Is Christ’s honor the chief motive for praying? Do we most want our children to see Jesus and delight in him, becoming like him in character? The clay is still soft, so ask God for sculpting opportunities in their young lives.
It was in summer that I suffered two broken ribs, a broken finger, and a separate emergency trip to the hospital for an abdominal problem. But it was not a wasted summer if those adventures are how God designed for me to discover compassion for others who suffer; if that’s how he planned for me to learn to couple alertness with cautiousness in riding my bike; if that’s how his Spirit would produce flexibility and forgiveness from the heart.
So yes, pray summer prayers for your children.
Pray as Children
Wise parents pray as children. That is, we too have a Father.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matt. 7:9–11)
If you desire good things for your children, how much more does God? The best thing he desires to give our children is his Son, the one who made summer and holds it together by the word of his power.
Pray for God’s Nearness
Pray that your children would be more and more impressed with Jesus, and consequently draw near to God. (James 4:8) You can foster their becoming increasingly wowed by Jesus through summer reading, summer observations of God’s outdoors, or summer interactions with Godly influencers (e.g., global gospel workers on home leave, etc.). Even before summer arrives, pray for such opportunities, then plan them.
Reading this article about praying is of little good unless prayer results. Pray. “You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:2) Even before summer, even before you have finished this article, you can intercede to the one who will do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Eph. 3:20)
Specific Prayers to Pray
How shall we pray summer prayers?
Pray with thankfulness.
Thank God for what he has already done in the lives of your children. He knit them together. He gave them their parents (you). He gave them exposure to the gospel. He is giving them experiences to broaden and deepen them. If they have professed faith in Christ and given ongoing evidence of spiritual growth, pray with glad thanksgiving!
Ask with specificity.
In the lives of your children, what are you laboring toward? Christlikeness? Maturity? What you have been laboring toward is what you actually want for them. Ask God specifically for what you really want. For them do you want eyes that behold spiritual realities? Healthy teeth and lips that speak of Jesus? Yielded obedient wills? Growth in grace and the knowledge of the truth? Ask specifically.
Do we most want our children to see Jesus and delight in him, becoming like him in character?
Ask Him to pour out his spirit on your sons and daughters. (Acts 2:17)
Speaking of specifics, ask God to enable them over the summer to learn to distinguish between being a son and being a daughter. Years ago, I would not have imagined having to pray a prayer like this, but current societal winds will not take your children in the direction that God designed them.
Pray that they not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin or adversity.
It’s likely that at some point over the summer they will encounter disappointment—a rained-out activity, an illness, an injury, loss of a friend, a cancellation because of COVID-19.
Ask God to give your children parents who are good role models.
Pray that God’s word would abide in them. (John 15:7)
Ask God to draw you and your children to his life-giving word that bears witness about Jesus. Pray that when your children encounter Scripture, they would see Jesus there and be nourished.
Accordingly, pray Bible texts for them and with them:
- Ask God to grant your children courage to do what is right. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9)
- Ask God to give you and your children the power of conviction. “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:6)
- Ask God to transform hearts, making them pure. “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
- “and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:38-40)
Pray that they would be good examples to others. (1 Tim. 4:12)
Children don’t have to be sponges only; they can also be spouts.
Pray that they would learn a skill with excellence. (Prov. 22:29)
How to grill a hot dog? How to grow tomatoes? Master a portion of Scripture memory? How to defrost a freezer?
Pray that they would be masters of their devices, and not mastered by their devices.
Pray that they would have peace with God.
If not yet born again, experience new birth. If already born again, not fog up their relationship with God with sin, but regularly confess sin and receive sweet promised forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)
These few brief suggestions are not meant to foster some simplistic formula for summer parenting. As you are filled by his Spirit, you will overflow in prayer for your children.
Sam Crabtree is the author of Parenting with Loving Correction: Practical Help for Raising Young Children.
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