Parenting. The word itself can bring contradictory emotions to the surface. We try to do the best we can raising our children. Then, just when we think we’ve got the parenting terrain all figured out, we suddenly find ourselves in new territory again as each new age and stage presents another set of challenges. Sometimes we sail through smoothly. Sometimes we encounter tempests and tidal waves. Sometimes we get so tired that we just want to give up—let the storm take us where it will.
But I have good news. We don’t have to be tossed and turned by these winds of change. Our children’s lives don’t ever have to be left to chance.
We don’t have to pace the floor anxiously, biting our nails, gnawing our knuckles, dreading the terrible twos or torturous teens. We don’t have to live in fear of what each new phase of development may bring, what dangers might be lurking behind every corner. Nor do we have to be perfect parents. We can start right now—this very minute, in fact—making a positive difference in our child’s future. It’s never too early and never too late. It doesn’t matter if the child is three days old and perfect, or thirty years old and going through a third divorce because of an alcohol problem. At every stage of their lives our children need and will greatly benefit from our prayers. The key is not trying to do it all by ourselves all at once, but rather turning to the expert parent of all time—our Father God—for help. Then, taking one step at a time, we must cover every detail of our child’s life in prayer. There is great power in doing that, far beyond what most people imagine. In fact, don’t ever underestimate the power of a praying parent.
I didn’t have the best role model for parenting because I was raised by a mother who was mentally ill and very abusive. I wrote about that abuse and my miraculous recovery from its effects in my book Stormie. I also related how having my first child, our son Christopher, caused me to realize that I had the potential in me to be an abusive parent. I discovered that if we are parenting without God, we are destined to repeat the mistakes of our past and to mimic what we’ve observed.
Because I was painfully aware that I didn’t have a positive parenting experience to imitate, I was nervous and anxious when my first child was born. I had countless agonizing concerns for my son’s social, spiritual, emotional, and mental growth, but most compelling of all, I feared that something bad might happen to him. Kidnapping, drowning, disfiguring accidents, irreparable injuries, diseases, sexual molestation, abuse, rape, or death all played across my mind as possibilities for his future. As much as I tried not to be an overreacting parent, every newspaper, magazine article, or TV newscast on crime made me more concerned for his welfare.
One day in prayer I cried out to God, saying, “Lord, this is too much for me. I can’t keep a twenty-four-hours-a-day, moment-by-moment watch on my son. How can I ever have peace?”
Over the next few weeks the Lord spoke to my heart about entrusting Christopher to Him. My husband and I had dedicated our son to God in a church service, but God wanted more than that. He wanted us to continue giving Christopher to Him on a daily basis. This didn’t mean that we would now abdicate all responsibility as parents. Rather, we would declare ourselves to be in full partnership with God. He would shoulder the heaviness of the burden and provide wisdom, power, protection, and ability far beyond ourselves. We would do our job to discipline, teach, nurture, and “train up a child in the way he should go” knowing that “when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We were to depend on God to enable us to raise our child properly, and He would see to it that our child’s life was blessed.
An important part of our job was to keep the details of our child’s life covered in prayer. In doing this, I learned to identify every concern, fear, worry, or possible scenario that came into my mind as a prompting by the Holy Spirit to pray for that particular thing. As I covered Christopher in prayer and released him into God’s hands, God released my mind from that particular concern. This doesn’t mean that once I prayed for something I never prayed about it again, but at least for a time I was relieved of the burden. When it surfaced again, I prayed about it again. God didn’t promise that nothing bad would ever happen to my child, but praying released the power of God to work in his life, and I could enjoy more peace in the process.
My husband and I recognize the hand of God on our children’s lives, and they readily acknowledge it as well. For it’s the power of God that penetrates a child’s life when a parent prays.
Stormie Omartian is the bestselling author of the Power of a Praying® series, which includes The Power of a Praying® Parent. Her other books include The Power of Prayer for Young Woman, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On, and The Power of Praying® Through Fear. (More than 40 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide.) Stormie and her husband, Michael, have been married more than 48 years. They are the parents of two married children and have two granddaughters.