The novelist Henry James once wrote, “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Then again, Henry James did not have kids underfoot as he crafted literary masterpieces. Those of us who spend our summer afternoons tracking a new teen driver or trying to separate them from their omnipresent smartphones may not find summer afternoons quite so relaxing as James did.
Summer days are unpredictable: a thunderstorm washes out a baseball game; a stomach bug cancels a much- anticipated sleepover; an unexpected meltdown ruins family movie night. Sometimes one child is overrun with friends while their sibling goes weeks by with nary an invitation. My kids’ expectations can be hard to manage, and if I am honest, so are my own. It’s hard not to become discouraged when plans change, or when it seems no one in the whole house remembers to show grace or compassion.
In theory, summer releases us from the tyranny of the schedule so that we have more time for sleeping in and playing badminton in the yard til dark. In reality, the freedom we expect to find in summertime can feel elusive, fleeting, like hunting fireflies; yet if we stand still for a moment, sometimes peace lands on our outstretched palms with a tickle and a glow.
For me, the best way to stop and stand still is to pray. Here are a few prayers for parents in summertime.
Embracing the season
Father, your Word says that for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Right now the season is summer, and with the kids out of school and the routine changed, some days are hectic and other days feel boring and endless. So in the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
Lord, may my hopes and expectations be in you alone. For you alone, my soul waits in silence. You alone are my rock and my salvation; you alone are my family’s fortress. In you, we shall not be shaken.
Besides- each summer day is a day that you have made!! I pray we will rejoice and be glad in it. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! (Eccles. 3:1, Ps. 5:3, 62: 5-6, 118: 24, 144:15)
Heavenly Father, some days patience comes naturally and others, not so much. Help me be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Remind me to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, because that is what my children need to see from me. Help me to remember your sovereignty, that the boundaries of what we can and cannot do have fallen for us in pleasant places, and that even in the disappointments you are working for our good. When I do run short on patience, help me to remember that your mercies are new every morning. Let me not grow weary in doing good for my family, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (James 1:19, Col. 3:12, Ps. 16: 6, Rom. 8:28, Lam 3:22, Gal. 6:9)
Father, your Word says that it is good and pleasant when brothers (and sisters!) dwell together in harmony. I am sure that is true, but Father, I confess some days I don’t even know what that harmony looks like.
I pray that my kids will do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than themselves. I pray that they will bear with one another, forgiving the complaints they are bound to have against one another during the course of the summer. I want my kids to love each other, not just so things are peaceful around the house, but because they belong to you and love you. Please help me to show them that love is patient and kind; that love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. I pray they will see from me, and show each other, that love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. I pray that in our home my children will experience the love that bears all things, believes all things, and endures all things. I pray that they will know that even as people love imperfectly and mess up all the time, Your love never, ever fails. (Ps. 133:1, Phil. 2:3, Col .3:13, 1 Cor. 13, 4-8)
Prayer for the lonely child
Jesus, I see that my child is lonely. I pray that he will know that there is nowhere he can flee from your presence. Wherever he goes, you are there, and even there your hand shall lead him, and your right hand shall hold him. Turn to him and be gracious to him, for he is lonely and afflicted. The troubles of his heart seem to be enlarged; please bring him out of his distress. Help him to find comfort in knowing that you are near to the brokenhearted and you save the crushed in spirit; you know what it’s like to feel despised and rejected. I pray my child will know that you will never leave him nor forsake him; rather, your goodness and mercy will follow him all the days of his life. (Ps.139:7-10, Ps. 25: 16-18, 34:18, Isa 53:5, Deut. 31:6; Ps. 23: 6)
Father, I have made up my mind not to be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I am bringing my requests to you.
So my request is this: I need wisdom for these long summer days. Your Word promises that if I need wisdom, I need only ask and you give, liberally and without reproach. Some days I hardly know what I need, much less what is best for my kids; I am so thankful that your Spirit intercedes for our family when I am not sure how to pray. But I do know this: from the rising of the sun till its going down, your name is to be praised. (James 1: 5, Rom. 8: 26, Ps. 113:3)
Lord, there are so many things to juggle in the summer, so many demands on my time, so many people I want to love well. I ask for wisdom, and I ask for peace. I cast my anxieties on you, because you care for me. You are not a God of confusion, but a God of peace. I pray that in our home we would encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace; and that you, the God of love and peace, will be with us. (1 Pet. 5:7, 1 Cor. 14:33, 2 Cor. 13:11)
Idleness vs. rest
Father, we know that you want us to redeem the time you have given us, not waste it in idleness. We know that you bless the work of our hands, when that work is done in your will. But we also know that you have ordained rest.
Help us be careful how we live. We don’t want live like fools, but like those who are wise, making the most of every opportunity. Help our family balance when to work and when to let the summer be a Sabbath season for our souls. We need your word to be a lamp for our feet, moment by moment, so we will know how to lead our kids in how to spend the gracious gift of time you have given us. May we be careful to devote ourselves to the good works you have planned for us, knowing that those good works do not save us. (Eph. 5:15-17, Ps. 90:17, Ex. 20:8-11, Ps. 139:16, Titus 3:8, Ps. 119: 105, Eph. 2: 8-10)
Not worrying about the future
Father, I don’t even want to think about the school year ahead. I have so many concerns about what it will be like. Help me to laugh at the days to come, because I am convinced that you know what my child needs. Instead, I pray that I would seek your kingdom and your righteousness, and everything we need will be added to us. Help me not to be anxious for the fall, because your Word assures me that I have enough on my plate for today; sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Proverbs 31:26, Matt 6:32-34)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him for your family this summer, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom.15:13)