Before continuing with the seven lies that keep us from praying, I thought it would be helpful to review a few tools that aid us in prayer:
- Notecards: In his book, A Praying Life, Paul Miller highlights notecards and journals. Miller dates his cards and places a person's name at the top. Then, below he can put down a Scripture passage or bullet points that he is praying for the person. I've found that the "Notes" app on an iPhone works just as well.
- Journals: Prayer is interconnected with every aspect of your life, because all of your life is part of God’s story. Miller says, “Learning to pray is almost identical to maturing over a lifetime. What does it feel like to grow up? It is a thousand feelings on a thousand different days. That is what learning to pray feels like...it isn't something you accomplish in a year. It is a journey of a lifetime." Sometimes journaling or just making notes of our prayers can open our eyes to God’s hand in this journey, especially over longer periods of time.
- A Prayer Calendar like this one can guide us to pray for aspects of our kids' character that we might not otherwise think about.
- Praying Blessings. For each of the lies that keep us from prayer, I've provided model prayers from the Psalms. The psalms can provide a model for praying blessings over our children as well. David Michael's A Father's Guide for Blessing His Children outlines how to turn psalms into blessing prayers.
Here is the fourth of seven lies that keep parents from praying. At this point in the list, I'm transitioning from lies we believe about God to lies we believe about ourselves.
4. I need to protect myself. We might say, "I don't know how or what to pray for. What if I pray something that is not God's will? I'm afraid to pray for what I really want."
Why are we afraid to be honest with God about our true desires? We are really trying to protect ourselves from realization that we are not in control; from the realization that we are not holy; from the realization that we are not powerful. If we could control God and make him answer the way we want, praying would be easy, but when I am willing to pray even for my selfish desires, I confess that I am out of control. This means we can pray for our children honestly--for their good health, for their academic/athletic success, for their repentance and salvation. God is the one who ultimately decides what he will give. But, nevertheless, he wants us to ask and believe that he gives good gifts to us, because we are his children.
The response to a desire for self-protection is believing that we can pray with childlike faith because we have a good Father who knows what is best for us.
When we are struggling to be honest with God, we can trust in our Father’s goodness and confess that we are dependent on Him for everything. Psalm 103 is an example of what this looks like:
1 Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:1-6, 13-14
The 7 lies are adapted from Megan’s notes for the Child Dedication class.