Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Things They May Chase

There is an Andrew Peterson song that says,
"Well I wish that I could say that at the close of every day I was happy with the way that I'm behaving.
'Cause Job, he chased an answer.
The wise men chased the Child. Jacob chased her 14 years and he captured Rachel's smile. Moses chased the Promised Land. Joseph chased a dream. David, he chased God's own heart. All I ever seem to chase is me.
Well, they say a race can only have one winner. And you know you've got to pull out front to win. God knows the only time I'm winning is when I'm chasing Him."

We are all born with a deep desire in our hearts for wholeness, fulfillment and unwavering love. It is the quest for Eden, the longing for the complete and perfect relationship we once had. And since the garden gate slammed shut, we have been chasing fulfillment from all sorts of things. As the years pass, our children have more and more choices when it comes to what they will chase. Will they chase social acceptance? Attention from the opposite sex? Financial success? Sedation from drugs, alcohol or prescription medication? Will they chase the world? Will they chase the flesh? Or will they chase the things of God?
Our kids have a very real enemy that would love for them to spend their lives chasing things that take glory away from God. He would love for their desires, strivings and energy to be fruitless. But the Lord says, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." (Proverbs 8:17) We need to be in prayer that our children would spend their lives chasing, seeking and finding the King of Kings. We need to pray that their hearts would desire all that is good, right, perfect and holy. For them to spend their lives fearing the Lord (as in: to lovingly respect and be in awe of our powerful and holy God), we must pray that their hearts are drawn to his ways.

We pray for our children's hearts to be drawn to you, your ways and your desires. As they sense the void that is in them that was left when the relationship was broken in Eden, let them also sense that only you can fill it. We pray that they would not waste their lives chasing after other things to fill that void, but that they would realize early that a relationship with you is the only thing that will ever fill and heal their hearts. And if ever our children choose to buy into the lie that the things of this world are worth chasing, we pray that they would quickly realize how unfulfilling their strivings are, and that they would be drawn back to you.
Give them a longing and a love for "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable... excellent or praiseworthy" (Phillipians 4:8). We pray that their hearts would fear you and that they would join David in being men and women after your own heart. We ask that as you form and shape their hearts, that you would plant in them a love for your Word, your laws and your truth. Let wisdom and discernment be qualities etched deep within them, that when confronted with the choice to chase after other things they would be able to make the right decision. Please bring friends into their lives that also love and chase after you, that they can encourage one another and spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
Above all, Lord, we pray that our children would seek you and find you when they seek you with all their hearts. And when their time here is over, let it be said of them that they spent their lives chasing after the very heart of God.

Scripture to Claim:

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!" Psalm 40:16

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27

With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:13-15

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

Monday, July 27, 2009

Giving Them Back

As loving and caring parents, I think our biggest mistake can be made by holding on too tightly to our children. We love them. We want to care for them. We want to protect them. But, I know for me, holding on tightly often leads to not trusting God to take care of them. I worry about so many things that I find myself micromanaging, over planning or trying to solve problems with my own ingenuity. I have found that when I do this, all it brings me is fear (that my plans for my kids will fail) and guilt (when they do).
However, the Lord tells us clearly to let go of these things. He says, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7 NLT. It is clear that we cannot be everywhere. We cannot fix everything. We cannot prevent our kids from being exposed to the curses and sins of Adam and Eve. So God says, "Trust me. I love them. I want to be their Father." No matter what our kids are going through or what stage in life they are, releasing them into the hands of God is the first step in making a difference. Stormie Omartian, in Power of a Praying Parent, says, "We don't want to limit what God can do in our children by clutching them to ourselves and trying to parent them alone." The first step is realeasing them. Giving them up. Handing them back. And trusting God, who loves our babies more than we could ever imagine.

I want to release my children to you. You made them. You love them. You are waiting for us to trust you. You can take care of them better than I ever could, and I cannot do my job well without you. I trust you with my children. Teach me how to pray for them, how to teach them and how to care for them. Hold them in your hands and watch over their every step. Release my heart from the fear and worry that Satan tries to bind me with, and give me peace.

Thank you, Father, that you walk this journey with us. Thank you that I do not have to do this alone. Thank you that my children are your children, and you want to raise, lead, guide and teach them. And thank you that I can trust you for eveything, and I do not need to rely on the wisdom and methods of the world. Let the wisdom of your word and the whispers of your Spirit lead me. Show me what I worry about, things I try to control and places I have yet to surrender - and help me to lay them in your hands. I trust you with my children and surrener them to you.

Scripture To Cling To:

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
Psalm 121

I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
John 16:23

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:27,28

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Praying Our Kids Through Life

As parents, there are often times we feel out of control, overwhelmed or crushed. We see these precious little people wandering around, and our hearts want to burst with the love we have for them. Yet we find ourselves tearing our hair out when they won't cooperate, listen, obey or be kind.
We have visions of their future where they will have to make choices about who to play with at recess, whether or not to laugh at the kid being picked on, where to hang out after school, what friends to have, what sports to play, whether or not to put on their seatbelt the first time they drive alone. They will have to decide how to behave in class, how to treat their friends and what to say the first time someone offers them a joint (yes, most likely, this will happen sometime in their life). And they will have to decide what to do with a man named Jesus.
Then our minds move on to what they don't have control of. What had the driver in front of them on the freeway been drinking? Will someone make them the kid on the playground being picked on? Will someone try to take advantage of them, lie to them, manipulate them or abuse them?
I don't say these things to try to scare anyone. Or even to try to persuade anyone. I am simply saying that, in light of all that is possible in the world, we are pretty small. We are pretty weak. We are pretty powerless. And yet, we have a very powerful God. A God that not only says we can trust him with our children, but with our worries, our fears and our very lives. He says, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (Jeremiah 29:12) and "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) and "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6,7). As we lay down our worries, fears and anxieties about our childrens' lives, He not only answers those prayers but he lifts the worry from us as well.
We have been given these children by their Creator, and the best thing we can do for them is give them right back. Not relinquishing our responsibility, but joining with the One who made them and letting Him lead us on this journey He set before us.

Lord, Let us be parents who trust you for our childrens' lives. We give ourselves wholly over to you, knowing that we will fail in this endeavor without you. We are lost and hopeless people, but you are our light, our hope and our guide. Help us be parents who pray. Help us stand in the gap for our children. Prompt us to pray when we need to for the specific things that need to be brought before you. We pray, Lord, that our knees would be calloused and our children protected. When we worry, fear or feel anxious, remind us to bring those things to you immediatly and relieve us. We give ourselves to you, and ask that you would guide us in your wisdom as we raise your children. And when we fail, let our failures bring us right back to our knees before you. Help us not to follow the path of anger, bitterness, sarcasm, resentment, fear, or detachment. But lead us in your love, mercy, patience, peace, kindness, humility and grace. We need you, Father, to teach us how to be parents like you.