Parenting by Prayer

“All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace” (Isa. 54:13).

The most important parenting skill we can hone is prayer. Through prayer, we can reach into the lives of our children, our grandchildren, and all of our descendants, touching their lives at the deepest places.

Have you noticed that you cannot parent character into your children? You can teach it and you can model it, but you cannot put it inside your children. For example, how can you parent with such skill that you teach a child to be honest? You can correct and punish him when you catch him lying; you can teach him honesty by example; you can show him videos and read him stories that teach honesty; you can lead him to memorize Scriptures about honesty. By doing these things, you will certainly lay the groundwork and give him the tools to live honestly, but you cannot make him honest. Why? Because truth has to reside in his innermost being, and you cannot put truth into his innermost being. That’s something God has to do.

Butwhat you can’t parent into them, you can pray into them. “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Ps. 51:6). Only God can put truth and wisdom inside your child. So it is with every character trait. If you want those traits to be who your children are, not just how they act, then it will take prayer.

Pray in the Spirit

In praying for our children, our grandchildren, and our descendants, we must learn to pray in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Our mother-​flesh and our father-​flesh is protective and possessive. The love we have for our children, in its flesh form, would like to control their lives and keep them from any pain, disappointment, or discouragement. Our flesh wants to rescue them and shield them and run interference for them. Our flesh will pray, “Don’t let anything bad happen.” To which the Lord will say, “I need to allow disappointment, pain, and failure so that I can give him the treasures of darkness and the riches stored in secret places.” If we pray for our children from our flesh, then we may think that God is not listening when our children do have difficulties.

We might hope to use prayer to manage circumstances in our children’s life to conform to our expectations and best ideas. But you will find that parenting by prayer doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t ensure a painless path through life. Prayer doesn’t guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to your children, or that you children will never make a wrong decision. It does guarantee that anything bad that happens is raw material from which God is forming a vessel for His mercy. Prayer is not the way you dictate to God about your children; rather, prayer is how you trust God with your children.

Do you need to let go of fearful praying when it comes to your children? Today, deliberately make faith in God and His plan for your child what fuels your prayer.

About Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Her book, Heart’s Cry, has been named […]

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  1. Excellent teaching. April Parker Hill READ THIS! I love you!

    • April Parker Hill says

      This is good! So hard to pray with open hands!! Love the comment, "prayer…doesn’t ensure a painless path…or that nothing bad will ever happen…It does guarantee that…God is forming a vessel for His mercy." Thank you for being open to the Spirit b/​c I needed to hear this tonight ~ Love you too 😉

  2. Debi Grenseman says

    Excellent! Just what we do in Moms in Prayer only we add other moms' voices to ours.

  3. Thanks for this lesson and reminder, Jennifer.…my children have not had a painless path, and there were times when all I could do for them was pray, those times when I was unable to parent them in the way I should have.….but I have always been able to pray, to turn them over to God, always saying to Him, "I know that You're their God too, not just mine.…" I have to say, praying this way has always been the scariest thing I've ever done – letting go of my delusion that I have control over them is SO incredibly tough, but I keep learning and re-​learning it's the only way. My beautiful, wonderful boys are evidence that God does do for me, and my children, what I can't do for myself, but only if I get out of the way.

  4. Enjoyed your post!

  5. Sabrina Thomas-Leverett says


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