My sister was in a really bad car accident when she was in college. She should have died. I know this because I stood face-to-face with the remnants of her car.
The trailer of a semi drove over her Ford Escape as the truck was merging onto the highway where she was driving. As a result, the steering wheel and dashboard of her car were nestled firmly into the driver’s seat where she was sitting.
She told me afterwards that before the wreck, she heard a voice in her head that told her to “dive into the passenger seat.” So she did. And that saved her life. She walked away with only a piece of glass in her thigh and some really sore muscles.
It was a miracle.
That same morning, my mother-in-law woke from a sound sleep and felt the intense urge to pray for my sister. So intense in fact, that she woke my father-in-law from sleep and asked him to join her in prayer. They prayed for my sister minutes before the accident occurred. And then my sister heard a voice in her head telling her to “dive into the passenger seat.”
Possibly. But I think not.
In Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen Hatmaker has this to say about prayer:
“What happens in the spiritual realm when we pray? It’s such a mystery. What words prompt the Spirit to move? What goodness do we join Him on when we pray for peace? How powerful are our prayer words? They are a catalyst for miracles, the impetus for healing. Does God wait for us to pray in His will, primed to move for righteousness? How many relationships is He waiting to mend? How much turmoil is He poised to soothe? How much peace is He ready to administer? Are we withholding the necessary words to trigger God’s intervention?”
(Excerpt From: Hatmaker, Jen. “7.” B&H Publishing Group, 2011)
She raises such good questions about the mystery of prayer. And I don’t pretend to have the answers. But I do know this. Prayer is powerful.
This spring, I was encouraged to read Mark Batterson’s book, Praying Circles Around Your Children. It’s a short book. Only 103 pages from start to finish. I read it in less than a week. But it has dramatically changed the way we pray for our children. Because now our prayers include the promises of God as found in the scriptures.
As Batterson says:
“Part of your role as prophet-historian is to know your children and know scripture so you can train them in the way they should go.”
This challenged us to think differently about our prayers for our kids and to develop a more intentional approach to how we pray for them. So over a series of weekly date nights, Kory and I focused our conversation on each of our children (one child each week for three weeks). Over a nice dinner and some time alone, we considered who they are. How they are gifted. Where they are weak. And in what ways they each need our prayers.
From those conversations, we developed a unique “prayer theme” for each child.
And then we went to the scriptures. Individually and together.
We took another three weeks of date nights to examine what the scriptures have to say about the “prayer themes” we developed for each child. And we chose passages for each child that were particularly relevant to those themes.
For our daughter, in whom we seem tremendous spiritually maturity and leadership skills, we chose 1 Timothy 4:12:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
For our oldest son, who is incredibly gifted but who can be overcome by fear, we chose 2 Timothy 1:7:
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
And for our youngest son, an adventurous spirit who doesn’t comprehend the meaning of the word “fear”? We’re mostly concerned about his physical safety right now. (Just read a few old blog posts, and you’ll know why.) So we’ve chosen to meditate on Luke 2:52 for his sake:
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
We’re working with each of our kids to memorize these verses. And we speak them into the lives of our children any time they are relevant. We’ve hung them in their lockers, included them in notes we’ve left in their lunch bags, and written them on spiral bound note cards that we keep on their bedside tables. Each night before they go to bed, we are trying to lay hands on them and include these scriptures as part of our prayers. Something like this:
“God, help our son to remember that you did not give him a spirit of fear. But instead, you gave him a spirit of power and love and self-control. Help him to turn to you when he is afraid and to use your power and love and self-control to manage his fears.”
We have other passages waiting “in the wings” for each child, and as new seasons dawn, I know our “prayer themes” will change. We’ll go through this process again as new issues arise and as new challenges present themselves.
But I can tell you already that it’s working. Not because we’re amazing “pray-ers” but because there is power in God’s word.
Two weeks ago, I got a call from our oldest son’s teacher. She was calling simply to tell me that he was having a great second week of school.
“How nice!” I thought.
As we talked, though, she shared with me that during the summer, she likes to spend some time in prayer for the kids that will be in her class the following year and to meditate on scripture for their benefit. This past summer (the same time when when we were choosing scriptures for our kids), God laid this scripture heavy on her heart:
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
She shared with me that she had been meditating on that verse all summer. And when she read our son’s information sheet, which we filled out on his behalf (and which included some information about his fears and this particular verse that we were working with him to memorize), she knew that God had laid that particular verse on her heart for a reason. Even before she knew our son would be in her class.
The hair on my arms stood on end as I listened. And I cried when we hung up.
I could choose to look at this as coincidence. But I don’t believe that it was. Instead, I believe with every ounce of my faith that when we seek God’s direction for our children, He will lead us. He makes himself known to us. And He reveals to us the special ways in which the scriptures can come alive for the unique needs of our kids. Add to that the power of other prayerful Christians coming alongside us who are also interceding on behalf of our children? Well, we better make room for God to move.
Because He has. He is. And He will in the future. I know this first-hand. Because I’m watching my children live into God’s promises for them as stated in the scriptures we are memorizing and praying together. I’m watching them blossom in ways that speak directly to God’s word.
It’s empowering for them.
And it’s empowering for us.
In what ways have you seen God’s word prove faithful? What scriptures are you clinging to for yourself and your children?