By Lisa Samra, Crosswalk.com
Pens and pencils are gathered in pencil boxes. Crayons (if they’re young enough to still require them) show off their fine point. Blank notebooks hold the possibility of creative stories, and calculators are ready to help solve even the most difficult math problems.
As I look at the backpacks lined up and ready for the first day of school, it’s exciting to think about all the wonders my children will learn and experience in the classroom.
However, the excitement is mixed with the fear of knowing I cannot protect my children in every situation they will encounter during the school year. They may have a teacher who doesn’t seem to understand their learning challenges. Their science experiments might not encourage discovery but simply discourage and frustrate them. Relationships at school might be a source of great heartache.
If you have a child or grandchild that you are helping to launch off to school this year, there will likely come moments when you realize your limitations to care for or protect them. We cannot be with them everywhere they go or intercept every unkind word or hurtful action.
The Bible reminds us that in those challenging situations, our hope rests in the fact that the Lord can strengthen and protect our children, and use every situation they encounter – good and bad – to make them more like Jesus.
In addition to providing yummy lunches and the necessary school supplies, praying for our children is a powerful and effective way we can partner with God in the work that He wants to do in our children’s lives this year. Here are four specific areas in which we can pray for our children:
1. May they experience peace.
School can be filled with lots of pressure-filled situations. Pop quizzes, tests, classroom presentations, band performances, sports games. While some children find competition to be motivating, these demands often produce anxiety in students.
As parents, we often can’t eliminate the source of anxiety, but we can pray for our children to cast all their anxieties on God because he cares for them (1 Peter 5:7). We can pray that they will remember that no matter where they are, God’s Spirit is present to help comfort, guide and strengthen them because of his great love for them.
I know you are the ultimate Protector of all children, and you supply peace that surpasses understanding. Please let your tender voice of compassion be the one they hear as they face pressures during their school days and after school. Bring them back to you by calming their minds and hearts. Help them to care about themselves and not feel overwhelmed.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
2. Help them resist temptation.
Each of our children will face temptation this year, whether to cheat on a test or repeat an unkind rumor. While we can’t always know what temptation they will face, we can pray that God will strengthen them to resist that temptation. We're reminded in 1 Cor. 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out.”
This verse helps us to recognize that our prayers for our children should not be that they will never face temptation, because it will come. The encouragement is to pray when they come face-to-face with temptation, our children will turn to God for help in taking the way out that he provides.
You know this world is teeming with temptations in classrooms, locker rooms, hallways, on school grounds, on public transportation and everywhere our children’s lives lead them. I can’t be there to guide their choices, but I know you are. Please cover these precious children in your embrace, and should they face temptations, guide their thoughts and words to choose your will. Equip them by the Holy Spirit to avoid the wide path that can lead to destruction. And if they falter, reassure them of your steadfast love.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
3. Inspire them to work for You, Lord.
As the school year progresses and the amount of homework and test preparation piles up, it can be difficult for students to continue to work hard.
We can pray for them to have perseverance to complete the tasks given to them so that it produces the desired result of maturity in their lives (James 1:2-4). When the assignments seem to be merely busy work, we can pray for faithfulness even when they don’t understand the purpose of the worksheet.
Ultimately, we are praying for our children to recognize that the person they are working for is not merely their teacher, but the Lord. Colossians urges us that “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…it is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Praying for our children to view their schoolwork as an act of obedience and service to God can help provide a greater perspective to the work they are doing.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Our children are yours. You know how you made them to strive after, or run from, schoolwork. Reach into their hearts and quicken their desire to appreciate the privilege of work to do, for you. Show them how you delight in building their minds and perseverance. Help them see sparks of joy in the products of their thought, creativity, and responsibility. Help them to know that even if the teacher or the topic is difficult, you are interested in how they approach it and what their work means to your Kingdom.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
4. Bless them with good relationships.
A challenging aspect of school for some students is not related to the curriculum, but to relationships. As we pray for our children at school, we can pray for their friendships. “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33) is a sobering reminder and can encourage us to pray for our children to seek out friends of good character that they might be a mutual encouragement to each other.
We can also pray for our children to be a good friend to others, especially those who are hurting or struggling. The writer of Ecclesiastes comments on the power of friendship when writing, “Two are better than one…if one of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
When Nehemiah prepared to go before the king with an important request, he prayed to God, “Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man” (Nehemiah 1:11). As our children go to school we can pray for the Lord to grant them favor with their teachers, school administrators and coaches.
We know that you see the friendships our children will be drawn to, before they even form. We ask for your providence over their choices, and that you send wise counsel to their side. Help them seek out friends of good character that they might be a mutual encouragement to each other. Help them to pursue and offer truth and integrity in all their relationships. Keep them safe from bad influences and equip them to help others turn away from sin as well.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
The new school year awaits! Whatever successes or struggles our children encounter, our prayers are powerful and effective to help them along the way. May each child go to school each day with the blessing of God:
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26
Lisa M. Samra was born and raised in Texas, graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas and earned a Master of Biblical Studies degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Lisa now lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her husband, Jim, and their four children. She is a regular contributor to Our Daily Bread, and her work has also appeared in a variety of publications and online sites. Lisa loves to travel and often finds inspiration from experiencing the beauty of diverse cultures, places and people. Lisa enjoys good coffee, running and reading, just not all at the same time.
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