How do you trust God and not worry when you see your child start spiraling downward?
How can you know when to say something and when to let your child work it out?
How can you trust that God ultimately has “good” in mind when it all looks so bad?
While writing my book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, I discovered that one of the most intense concerns a mother has for her children, apart from her concerns for their physical safety, is her concern for their spiritual condition. We fear our children will turn their backs on their faith and all they were taught and needlessly stumble through life.
That situation can be fearful, and can make us feel so helpless.
I asked hundreds of moms to share with me their secret to maintaining hope for a wayward child, even if the situation looks hopeless. Their answer is always the same. Their hope is in God, not their child, and God’s ability to turn that child’s heart back toward home.
Whether you’re a mom or dad, here is how you can maintain hope while praying for your child who has gone astray:
- Pray Scripture over them
A friend of mine who witnessed her daughter self destruct into drugs and a dangerous lifestyle for several years, saw God turn her daughter’s heart around. But, she said, her only comfort during the season of her daughter’s rebellion was praying Scripture over her daughter. Isaiah 49:16 was especially encouraging to her.
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.”
While that verse prophetically refers to the nail prints in Jesus’ hands, it symbolizes to us that Jesus knew each and every person by name, that He would die for and those nail prints were like an engraved name on His hand.
What a comfort to know He has our children on His mind and in His heart.
- Pray by focusing on God’s character
From Psalm 139 alone, we can be encouraged knowing that God is One who:
- searches us and knows us from the inside out (verse 1)
- knows our every action and thought (verses 2-3)
- knows what we will say before we say it (verse 4)
- follow us everywhere we go (verses 8-12)
- formed us and watched over us while we were in the womb (verses 13-15)
- wrote out our life story in His book before we even lived it (verse 16)
- convicts us of our offense and leads us in the right direction (verse 24)
That Psalm reminds us that God is more intimately acquainted with our child than we will ever be. And that He is tracking their whereabouts when we can’t.
- Pray for your child to discern God’s voice
A mom of six children told me “I always pray for God to be loud to my children.”
Children will hear our voices in their heads. And they may try to shut out that voice at times if their hearts are hardened. Children will also hear their friends’ and peers’ voices, and the voice of the enemy seeking to lead them astray. But we want God’s voice – the voice of His Holy Spirit – to be louder than anyone else’s voice.
Insert your child’s name in this prayer and pray it often:
“Lord, help ____________ to listen to what You say, and to treasure Your commands. Tune _______________’s ears to wisdom, and help _____________ concentrate on understanding (Proverbs 2:1-2, NLT). Instruct ______________in the way of wisdom and lead ________________ along straight paths (Proverbs 4:11).
4. Pray for wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent
There will come a time when your words will fall on deaf ears, but God’s never will. Pray for wisdom so you know when to speak, and what to speak, and when to be silent so God can speak. Here’s a way to pray for that right now:
“Lord, Your Word says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Lord, I need that kind of wisdom to know when to speak to ______________ and when to be silent. “Do not let any unwholesome talk (lecturing, judging, or accusing) come of (my) mouth, but only what is helpful for building (my children) up according to their needs… (Eph. 4:29). Let me also be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19).
- Praise God for what you don’t yet see
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to be joyful, to pray continually and to thank God for all circumstances, not just the ones we are comfortable with. Thank God often for something in your child’s life that you wouldn’t ordinarily be thankful for, as a way of trusting His work in your child’s life and acknowledging that He’s in control.
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, national speaker, and author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.