“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27) NLT
The summer before my son’s senior year, I felt waves of sadness hit me like waves in the ocean, flowing in and out and crashing at impact. I wasn’t quite prepared for the intensity of emotion I felt and certainly wasn’t prepared for the feeling of panic I was experiencing at the thought of him moving out at the end of summer.
Desperately seeking peace, I discreetly escaped to my daily walks to be alone with my thoughts and God. As I walked, I found myself longing for the days when life seemed so much simpler, when my son was little, and the biggest worry I had was a scraped knee.
It was during my walks that I prayed fervently for my son, for God’s protection, for courage, confidence, discernment, wisdom, friendships, faith… The more I walked and the more I prayed, lumps formed in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes. My baby was growing up and would soon fly!
As the summer began to wind down and my prayers continued daily, I couldn’t help but notice a repetitive nudge to write for my son. I’ve always been someone who journals and writes to express my feelings. Yet, this time my desire to write was different. It wasn’t only a personal longing for me to connect with God, it was a desire to connect with God on behalf of my son: intercessory prayer. Immediately, I knew with all my heart that I needed to journal my prayers for my son. I also knew that I wanted to give this to him at graduation, as I would be giving him my heart.
That’s the day I sat down and created my prayer journal for him. I drafted “Go in Faith: Daily Prayers for My Senior.” I wanted my son to have a journal that was something more than a spiral notebook. Consequently, I self-published a hardback journal that included space for scripture and random notes and thoughts I wanted to capture for him. The journal was structured so that I could create a daily habit of journaling my prayers. I knew myself and recognized that if I dedicated my morning devotion time to include time to write in his journal, that it wouldn’t end up as another idea that never came to fruition.
The printed journal arrived just before the start of school in September, as the leaves began to turn color. And as my son walked through my front door for the last first day of school, I retreated to my writing corner with heavy sobs and tears flowing like a river… and there I wrote and prayed daily for the next ten months.
I can’t tell you how significant that year of journaling and praying meant to both me and my son. It’s almost hard to put into words, as it’s deeply personal. Each morning I woke before the rising of the sun, took my coffee in hand, and poured out my heart to God. I found throughout the months and the turning of seasons, I also turned pages of my journal that moved me closer to a goodbye. One would think the closer I moved towards graduation that I would have experienced greater sadness. And yet, the more I journaled and the more I prayed, the more content I became, knowing that my son was held by God. Because my son believed what Jesus did for us on the cross, the Holy Spirit dwelled within him. He was not alone and I knew that the Spirit would help him and guide his steps along the way. My fears melted away and I was able to send my son off to college with absolute faith that he was walking down his own road and journey that God had prepared for him. Peace flowed like a calm, gentle river.
Over the past few years, I often wondered if my son read his journal or if it just ended up collecting dust. Thankfully, because we have a close relationship, we’ve discussed the journal and he’s shared how meaningful it has been and how he often picks it up. It’s my ongoing prayer that the words that were written and the prayers that I cried out will fall upon open ears and an open heart, for the Holy Spirit to do His work. I know that God wanted me to intercede for my son so that my prayers of love had the power to help him as he transitioned to college, because of the goodness and mercy of God. I also know that by reading and receiving my prayers he would find joy and peace, knowing that he has been held in the intimacy of our Father.
The last day I wrote in that journal was heavy hearted for me. I had come to treasure that time and I knew I would miss praying in writing for him each day. Over the years, I’ve continued this practice, although not specifically in a personal journal. There is something sweet and special about receiving hand-written notes and prayers . When my son moved into his first rental house his second year in college, I left behind a letter with scripture references on his pillow. I’ve also mailed cards with words of encouragement on occasion, and I’ve texted scripture and prayers when I felt moved by the Spirit to do so. Oftentimes thereafter, I was sure to receive an “I love you, too” or even a heartfelt emoji!
This year, I have the privilege of writing another journal for my daughter who is entering her senior year of high school. Will my prayers be the same? Yes, in many ways. And yet, she is her own, unique individual with her own intimate desires and needs. I don’t plan to change the format or add anything to her journal because I know He will guide me as I write and as I pray. She will take a piece of my heart with her to college too.
If you’re a parent who is moving into that last year of high school with your son or daughter, I encourage you to carve out the time and space to keep a prayer journal this year. Not only are you sure to find God’s gift of peace, but also gratitude for the blessing of family.
The journal can be purchased through Blurb at
https://www.blurb.com/books/8535577-go-in-faith. Otherwise, I recommend just grabbing a journal of any kind (or even a spiral notebook) and to just start writing!