A friend of mine and I have remarked together about the fact that when we were first parents, we had numerous methods and strategies we looked to and trusted in to help us in our parenting. We had lists of things we said we’d never do and things we said we’d always do. We had favorite programs and books and parenting gurus we trusted.
We joke that once we got to the teen years, the only “parenting method” we use now is prayer. All kidding aside, the truth is we’ve come to realize how dependent we are upon the Lord for all things, especially his work in the lives of our children.
The Prayers of Paul
As we start a new year, we may look ahead to what we expect and hope for our children. Often those things center around academics, sports, relationships, college choices, and other temporal things. While it is important to bring all our concerns and cares to the Lord in prayer, Scripture points us to pray for things beyond the temporal.
In Paul’s letter to the churches he “fathered,” he references prayers he prayed for them. Though I’m sure he prayed for concerns regarding health or God’s provision, the prayers mentioned in his Epistles center on spiritual matters. He prayed about matters of the heart—on things of eternal significance. Reading Paul’s prayers remind us of the big picture: While a college entrance exam is of some importance, the work of the Spirit in the heart of our children is of eternal importance.
I’ve often used Paul’s prayers in praying for others, including my children. God’s word is how he communicates to us and we respond to his word through prayer. I can think of no better words to pray than God’s own words. As Donald Whitney wrote about praying God’s word: “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.” (in Praying the Bible)
Here are ten things to pray for your teens this new year, inspired by Paul’s prayers for his own “children,” the churches he helped plant.
Ten Things to Pray for Your Teens
- Pray for your teen’s salvation:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:14-17).
And for spiritual growth for teens who are in Christ:
“… that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3: 17-19).
- That they would share the gospel:
“…and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20).
- That they would have wisdom and discernment:
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
- That they would persevere in the faith:
“and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
- That God would be glorified through them:
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
- That God would protect them from evil:
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3).
- Give thanks to the Lord for his work in your teen’s life:
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4-7).
- That God would provide unity within your family:
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5).
- That they would obey God:
“But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed” (2 Corinthians 13:7).
- That they would know all the blessings they have in Christ:
“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (Ephesians 1:17-19).
Prayer is a beautiful and powerful privilege. This new year, let us go before the throne of grace and pray Paul’s prayers to the Father on our teen’s behalf.