Times of Doubt: the Importance of Prayer In Our Lives and Theirs

sallyquoteprayforchildrenFinally, it was quiet. The kids were in bed, the baby was asleep, and I was alone. Alone! It had been a very long and busy day full of housework, schoolwork, a new baby, long car trips, and the constant needs of a household of children and adults. As I slumped onto the den couch, I exhaled a deep and weary sigh that came from way down deep inside. It was met by a familiar voice.


I looked around to see my 12-year-old "little" girl peeking through the doorway, her almost-young-woman face and teary eyes saying, Please, may I talk to you for just a moment?  It really is important.  I took a deep spiritual breath, reached down into my weary soul, and found a tiny bit of energy left that I didn't know was there.

"Come on in honey. What's wrong?"

Over the next several minutes, she poured out her heart about something she had struggled with for two years, a problem she just could not resolve. It wasn't the problem that caught my heart, though; it was something else she said as she finished her thoughts. "You know, Mom, sometimes I wonder if God is really real. My prayers seem to stop at the ceiling. I feel like I'm just saying words to myself. How do you know that what you and Daddy have taught us is really true?  How can you be sure you're not just believing in a nice story?"

That's when I felt a sense of panic strike at my heart. Sarah had loved Jesus since she was a young child and was unusually tender-hearted toward God for her age, so I knew this was a serious question.

I suggested that we pray. The prayer of my heart was definitely more for me than for her, even though the words on my lips were for her. Then we talked. My words of counsel to her were sufficient for the moment, assuring her that her doubts were not unusual, that God is big enough to work through them with her, and that her father and I were here to help her. We prayed and she went to bed reassured.

I went to bed disturbed.

In my time of prayer the next morning, I had to admit to the Lord that I was deeply concerned for my precious daughter. The panic I had felt the night before had become a gnawing fear. What if, after all my efforts, my children do not have a heart for God? What if I hadn't done enough to put them on the path of a godly life? What if they joined the growing list of teenage children, raised in homeschooling families, who have rebelled against God or simply rejected Christianity?

I agonized over these questions for a while as I conversed with God.

But I began to notice that the more I prayed, the more the fear ebbed. The more time I spent with the Father, the more at peace I became. And then it hit me—I was simply following my own best advice to Sarah the night before. God was reassuring me that my doubts and concerns were not that unusual, and that he was big enough to work through them with me.

By the time I said, "Amen," my heart was at peace. I had met with the Father, entrusted my children's lives into his hands, and been renewed in my spirit to remain faithful to my calling as a Christian mother. But I came away with much more than just temporary spiritual relief. I came away with a clearer understanding of how prayer fits into the picture of parenting.

When I pray for my children, it really isn't just for them—after all, God is in control of their lives.  It is just as much for me. My heavenly Father wants me to talk with him and to become a part of what he is doing in the lives of my children. More than all the things I do to turn my children to God, my prayer time is the most important part of my day because it is what turns me to God.

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