Praying for Your Children in the New Year
And when the days of the feast had run course, Job would send and consecrate them,and he would rise early in the morning and offer burn offerings accordingly to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
As a parent reading Job 1, you’ll find two particular verses that are striking. The first is verse 1 – Job was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil." On two other occasions, the Lord God himself describes Job in precisely the same language (1:8; 2:3). Oh, how I long to be a man who is "blameless and upright, one who fears God and turns away from evil!" And, oh, how I long for the Lord God to describe me in this way. Let us ask God to do this work in our lives – through Christ and in reliance on the Holy Spirit. May God have his way with us!
Then, as you continue reading Job 1 and come to verse 5, you realize how a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil intercedes and prays for his children. After his children’s feasting, Job would set them apart to God, then he rose early in the morning and offer burnt offerings, interceding on behalf of each of them. Why? In case any of them had sinned and cursed God in their hearts. "Thus, Job did continually."
This is how a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns from evil intercedes and prays for his children. Needless to say, the Spirit hits me with conviction as I read these words. I do pray for my children, but do I genuinely plead with God, interceding for them regularly before him? As we begin a new year, I will give myself to pleading with God and regularly interceding for my children and their families. Here are some lessons the Lord has taught me from Job 1.
- Pray for your children. Job consecrated his children. That word consecrate means to set apart to something, in our case, as in Job's, it means set apart to God. If your children are unbelieving, plead with God, interceding with him to save them. In this case, you are asking God, first, to set them apart for himself. Plead with God to remove their heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh that beats for him. Ever since our children were young, we had a bedtime routine. As a part of it, my wife and I would pray for them and with them at their bedside. I would often pray that God would give them a new heart, and I did that in their hearing so that they, too, would realize their need for conversion. If your children are believing, then pray for them accordingly.
- Pray for each of your children. Your children are all different, unique. Job interceded for each of his children, “according to the number of them all.” Our children have different strengths and weaknesses, different struggles, and temptations. So, pray for each of them according to their own needs. There is nothing wrong with praying general prayers for our children – growth in Christlikeness. But, let’s be specific! Make a prayer list where you note their own unique prayer needs. And, in the name of Christ, ask our Heavenly Father for particular requests, grounding our requests on specific biblical promises.
- Pray for each of your children regularly. Job rose early in the morning. Daily, he interceded and offered burnt offerings for each of his children. Now that Christ has come and offered himself as the once for all sacrifice, there is no longer a need to offer animal sacrifices. Still, we are to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Peter 2:4-5). In at least one case, those spiritual sacrifices are the fruit of our lips, offerings of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15). So, at the very least, we should offer sacrifices of praise to God for our children. How thankful are we for our children? Let us praise and thank God for them daily!
And let us also pray for them daily, interceding for them, setting them apart to God in prayer. Let us pray God-sized prayers for our children, not mere comfort prayers – “O Lord, keep them safe and prosper them.” Instead, let us be bold in consecrating them, saying, “Oh God, take our children and use them however you would desire.” May we be willing to offer our children to God – that he would cause them to love and treasure him above all things so that their lives are living sacrifices to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2).
- Pray for each of your children regularly, BECAUSE they are sinners in need of daily grace. Too many parents idolize their children, unable to see them for the sinners that they are. Our culture is so blinded in this way that when their children get in trouble, they blame others: teachers, coaches, other children. Job understood human depravity, and he realized the potential his children had to sin, even in their hearts. This is why Job continually interceded before God for his children – because they were sinners, and he wanted to intercede on their behalf that they may avoid God's judgment.
Let us not underestimate our children’s capacity to sin, especially in their hearts (where we cannot look into). Admittedly, this is a delicate tension to maintain as parents. We want to encourage our children continually, but we also need to remember that their hearts also are deceptive. So, in the context of ongoing affirmation, let us continually disciple our children, pointing out their struggles and temptations, their sinful proclivities and their actual sins. And when they sin, we need to discipline them appropriately. Parental discipline is one of the means the Lord has given us to intercede for our children that they may avoid God's final judgment. It's better to come under our discipline than to allow our children to raise themselves in their own way, only to come under condemnation on the Last Day.
Parenting is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Thankfully, Jesus came from heaven to earth, and he - the only true blameless and upright one who feared God and turned away from sin - interceded between God and sinners. Because of the righteous sacrifice of himself, all who believe now stand blameless before God. Let us pray for our children that they may see the truth and beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ and give themselves to him.