Using Scripture to Pray Over Your Children
My aim is not to teach you what to pray, but how to look to God’s abundant and perfect word for His words, so that you would be praying for what really matters to Him. The word of God is not a magic formula for getting God to comply with your wishes, but is a really good way to submit your “best way” to His perfect way, being all the while transformed more and more into His character. The best way I can do this is through examples. I’ve also left some blanks where you can fill in the name(s) of your child(ren); sometimes I’ve just used “he” because I happen to have a son. I hope this is helpful to you.
A quick note before we begin. It is very tempting to merely ask God to protect your little one. Out of deep love for your child, you never want him to experience any kind of discomfort… But if he grows a deeper-rooted hope in Christ by way of his suffering, how can we ask God to withhold this blessing? You can fully trust the Giver with His child; your little one is, in reality, only on loan to you. He uses suffering in a mighty way to bring His children, by His grace, back to the cross. God did not withhold His Son, but allowed His lifeblood to be shed on our behalf, so that we would be restored to a full life with Him. We pray from the depth of our hearts, and we can confidently bring everything before the Lord. And yet, we should pray for God’s protection over our little ones, following the example Jesus gives when He prays that we will be kept from the evil one in John 17:15. So, after praying, “Lord, keep my son safe, protect him from evil” maybe we can pray that God will give him (and us!) the strength to bear everything that comes as well as, increase our trust in that as much as we love our littles, “He is good and what He does is good.” Psalm 119:68
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Jesus, I pray that You would win over my son. Soften his heart to know You in spite of my failures, that even when I am impatient, You are patient and kind; when I am selfish, You put others first. Thank You for being the example of the greatest love so that we could follow in Your steps. Thank you for helping ____ be honest about lying today (or another sin) because we know that You love us and have forgiven us. We rejoice with the truth!
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Jesus, enlighten ____’s heart through Your immutable word. Bring him to a joyful discovery of this gift from God– good for learning, full of wisdom, warning, and encouragement. Give him the peace that comes with submission to Your will and a hunger for obedience. Fill his life with the joy of the Holy Spirit that comes through loving Your word. Thank You Lord for being our only light in utter darkness.
If you disobey, you have sinned against the Lord; your sin will find you out.
Father, I rejoice to know that nothing is hidden from Your eyes. Let ____ be caught every time he tries to be sneaky so that he can live with freedom in Christ. Let him be so weighed down by his sin so that He will not be able to remain silent. Surround him with the overwhelming joy of a right relationship with You.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Father, help ____ grow in lasting joy! In Your great love for him, You have desired that he produce fruit as a reflection that he has been made new. Let his joy set him apart to stand as an example so that many would come to know You.
Honor your father and mother. God, You have commanded that ___ respect his father and mother.
You have placed him in our care, Lord. Help him to submit to his parents in little ways so that he will learn to submit to You in big ways. Your word says that it will go better for him if he honors You, and if he does not honor You, it will not go well with him. Thank you for providing him with a place to learn to be obedient to You.
Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. That water will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Lord, make ____ thirst to know You so that he will never be satisfied by his sin, but will instead come to stand firm knowing You, our Rock and our Savior. Your word says that “those who rebel are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns.” (Isaiah 57:20). Help ___ find rest when he submits his life to Your ways. Thank you for showing us that there is nothing better than the everlasting life we have because of Your love for us.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Father of all wisdom, keep ___ from taking the easy path of laziness. Our faith in You demands that we take action. We know that the repercussions for work done half-heartedly is that we do not get to experience the full joy that comes with serving with our whole heart. Help him feel compassion for the weak so that he has many opportunities to reveal Your character to a hurting world. Grow him in discipline and self-control. Give him enough forbearance for this moment, and teach him to come to You to be replenished when he feels like giving up. Thank You Father that You use Your people to accomplish Your will. Help my son to recognize when You are leading him.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my fortress; of whom shall I be afraid?
Almighty Father, ____ is really struggling right now to trust You. It feels like his fears are so big, but we know that You are mighty to save. Help him to put his trust in You as his shield and deliverer. Your word says we do not have to be afraid because You have promised that You will never leave us. Thank You, Lord that his courage doesn’t come from inside him but from knowing that You are strong and that You will never leave him.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.
Father, Your word says that You are the vine. Help ____ to know his weakness apart from You and to put his hope in Your strength and provision. Make him dissatisfied until he turns to You as his sustainer. Thank you for Your promise that when we abide in You, we will bear much fruit.
You might not remember John 15:5 exactly in the moment you think to pray about “remaining in the Father,” but you do know the general idea presented there. Take what you know to be true and use that to pray scripture over your child. God, see my child? I know You. I know You love him even better than I have. Lord, I’m pleading that You would keep him. Help him to remain in You. Sometimes (lots of times), that’s all you can come up with in the moment. It’s still God’s word, which doesn’t ever return back void; it is sharp and living and active and piercing. Sometimes praying scripture over your child is as simple and as heartfelt as this.
Then I get really quiet, allowing the Holy Spirit do what He does as intercessor for my prayers: I let Him bring things to mind like, “What does it mean to remain?” God, You remained when You didn’t have to. You were faithful to Jacob, even when he deceived his father, constant when he himself was deceived. You were immutable even when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord and didn’t let go. God, You remained when You could have gotten off of the cross because it would have been easier, because You could have snapped Your fingers and stopped the fear and the bleeding and the tears of the many people who loved You… but You remained. You remained when I stole things that were not mine to take, and hurt other people in the process, breaking the trust of people I loved and causing waves of damage and years of pain. You are faithful to Your people, and I am, Lord, Your people because I trust in You who have shown Yourself constant to me over the years. Father, preserve my son. Help him to remain in You even when it’s hard because You did. Help him to remain in You even when he’s successful and to not forget his heritage. Help his heart be so moved by the fact that You remained that he cannot even consider walking away from You. Thank you Lord for Your faithfulness and that it is by grace we are saved.
As these examples have shown us, God’s word can give us specific concepts for praying for our children. It can also be our means for praying for our children more broadly, like when we intentionally read Bible stories to inform our prayers. Let’s take Jonah, for example. First, we ask God, “What do you want me to take from this? Show me how to pray for my child.” Give time for the Spirit to lead you; It’s really good to be quiet before Him. It may be helpful to re-read the first chapter before continuing. This is how I would pray through the first chapter:
Lord, give my son a stubborn attitude against wickedness and a passion for righteousness through personally experiencing Your goodness. Put up roadblocks against him when he runs from You. Lead him to become a man after Your own heart so that others may see and know You. Give him fearlessness with the truth; show him how it is sweet, even in times of great fear, to be out from under the guiles of deception, so that he may be a light to unbelievers. Enrich my son’s life with people who will point out his sin and bring him to his knees.
And that’s only the first ten verses!
Pray with God’s word on your hearts and minds. You have to open the Bible to know God’s word, to be anchored in it, and to pray it over your children. Listen to the Bible read aloud while you do dishes or drive home from work. Pick a portion to memorize. God is faithful to bring to mind verses you have memorized at just the right occasion. Put up a verse on your bathroom mirror. Even when you haven’t put time aside to study God’s word, there it is in front of you when you’re brushing your teeth. Elliot and I sit and read a story before bed and then we read a little of the Bible together. That way, I have God’s word in front of me when I start praying for him. By praying God’s word for our children, we ask, we praise, we commit our concerns and needs— and we can thank Him for the incredible gift of uniting our hearts with His in the process.
- Barbara Duguid and Wayne Houk – Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration
- Janet Thompson – Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help and Encouragement for Hurting Parents
- James Banks – Prayers for Prodigals