Battling in Fervent Prayer for Your Children

Not too long before my family and I made our big move from Dallas, Texas to Holyoke, Colorado I was in my parents house reminiscing on all our memories, our journey of seminary, and the special city where all our babies were born. I was in my moms sowing/reading room when I saw her journal open with note cards of all her grandkids names written down. My sister’s boys and our four kids, in addition to her prayer partner Bonnie’s grandchild were listed. My mom and Bonnie have been prayer partners for more than 25 years and pray on the phone once a week. Talk about discipline!

I read them one by one and was challenged and encouraged in my own prayer life. In the current ages of our children (8 and under), my husband and I have had our share of challenges in parenting each child’s unique personality. We haven’t always known what is a spiritual vs. a physical battle with each one. But now more than ever, when I’m often pleading for help from Jesus, I’m reminded that prayer is my greatest weapon against the Enemy.

You see, our fight even in parenting, is not against flesh and blood but against the forces of evil in the spiritual realm. We don’t always see the battle before us so we must fight with spiritual weapons. It would be silly and foolish to engage in a spiritual battle with only physical armor. The discipline of prayer teaches us to humble ourselves and seek our greater authority who is fully aware of every situation we face.

Prayer is an invitation for us to bring all our concerns to Jesus and lay them at his feet. We need to be confident to go to the throne of grace- regardless of our weaknesses and brokenness- that he will hear us when we call to him. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  Your words will not fall on deaf ears and you can have assurance that your almighty God, maker of heaven and earth cares for you and is fully capable.

My temptation each day for not being fervent in prayer are thoughts like: “Their rebellion is not that big of a deal. They’re just kids. They will learn …” and more. But the reality is that they’re also in a battle against their sinful nature, the darkness in this world, culture’s cunning lies, and the battle of their flesh that says “dive in and enjoy sin to the fullest, even if it hurts you and causes great pain.”

Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.”

In addition to our parenting strategies and disciplines, what if we trained and disciplined ourselves in prayer over our children’s hearts each day? After all, scripture says that foolishness resides within them just as it does with us. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9).

Their bad attitude, sassy mouth, undisciplined behavior, disrespect for authority, laziness, apathy, not wanting what they desire, sibling rivalry, complaining spirit, lying, stealing, lusts for more, and the list goes on… What if we engaged in prayer like never before over their hearts? What if we entrusted Jesus to do the work that we simply cannot do?

I have no doubt that we’d begin to see prayers answered, hearts softened, passions rekindled, respect and responsibility in action, and a standing up for the right thing like we’ve never seen before. Perhaps we’d begin to see the healing we’ve been longing for so badly in our home, marriage, and children because of prayer.

Just as my mom began writing down her prayers and claiming them, I too (finally!), have started writing down and praying promises of Scripture over my children. It’s been a great delight and privilege to pray over their struggles. Ironically, I see their battles are very similar to my own.

At the end of the day, for all of us, the sobering question we must face is that if we don’t pray for the hearts of our children in this dangerous and deadly spiritual battle, who will?

Fighting in the war with you,

Samantha

This post was inspired by the book my moms Bible study is going through this fall: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

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A Prayer for the Weary, Worn-Out Mama

Oh Lord, thank you for who you are and that I’m always welcome to approach your throne in confidence and boldness, no matter how much I’ve failed you. No matter how exhausted I am. I confess to you today that my heart and soul is malnourished and deprived of the nutrients and sustenance that only you can give.

I have tried to manage life on my own, only to fall every time. I’ve tried to control my husband, home life, and children apart from you, and I’m so grateful you’re reminding me today that the only person I can put my hope in is you.

I’m worn out from “doing” when I should be focused on “being” who you’ve called me to be. I’m struggling, Lord, because I don’t want my identity to be in anything else other than you but the temptations and the gradual pull to place my hope in temporary, non-eternal things is a constant tug of war match.

I’m weary from the high calling you have given me as a mother to my children, who I love with all my heart. I don’t always know what I’m doing in shepherding their hearts. I don’t always love them well or know how to handle their sinful nature, nor my own. I call upon you for the help that you are always ready and willing to give in abundance. Humble me so that I will call on your name more.

I know that when I surrender to you and release control, you will take over and that you always lead me to streams of living water. You always bring me satisfaction and joy. For there is rest in you and your yoke is easy – not burdensome.

Please lift the afflictions and grievances off my back so that I may live freely for you today. Rid me of my selfishness and teach me what your love is like so that I may love others well. Teach me how to be the mama you’re calling me to be. Thank you that your love is better than life and I can trust in your unfailing love for me now and into eternity.

In your precious and holy name I pray,

Amen

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

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From the Archives: A Prayer for Thankfulness in Times of Pain

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Today I wanted to repost a prayer I wrote last year. The original post can be found here.

Father God,

We acknowledge that you are the giver of all good things. We live and breathe because of you. From your hands, You supply all that we need and so much more. But we confess that sometimes we are:

ungrateful…

unthankful…

selfish…

sinful…

hurting people…

I confess that at times I don’t see all the gifts you have given, are giving, and continue to give in my life. I confess that my ungratefulness at times has left me angry, bitter, and wanting. My unthankfulness has made me blind to all that I have. I know my heart needs radical change.

Some of us are unthankful because we’ve experienced a great amount of pain and suffering this year. We’ve lost loved ones and unborn children. Our marriages and relationships are broken. We’re dealing with sickness, injustice, and depression. We’re struggling financially and need a miracle. Circumstances don’t seem to be in our favor. Ever. Some of us wonder why in the world you work the way that you do.

I confess that at times I have caused my own pain and have projected that hurt onto other people.

God, help us to lean into your grace when we’re weak and feel like giving up. Because Lord we are so frail apart from you. Help us to give you thanks because when we choose not to we know that our wounds and pain only grow deeper.

Will you teach us and show us that you are good regardless of the pain and hurt we may feel in this life? You are worthy to be praised in the valley and on the mountaintop. Remind us that you still:

turn ashes into beauty.

instill life into dead bones.

give the oil of joy for mourning.

soften the hardest of hearts.

change sinners into saints.

transform brokenness into wholeness.

wash our sins and make them white as snow.

redeem and restore the years the enemy has stolen.

And let us remember that you have already endured the ultimate shame and suffering on the cross for your glory and our good. Help us to persevere to the end until we see you face to face.

In the meantime, may today, this week and the rest of the year give us a renewed sense of genuine Thanksgiving in each of our hearts regardless of our circumstances. We love you.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Devotional: All for Good (Day 4)


1212536_open_bible Day 4

All For Good

Romans 8:28-30

By the time I entered college I knew I loved people and writing. I also loved learning about God’s word. So I majored in English, minored in Psychology and got my Master’s in Religion. During all that time of intense study, I often wondered how all the pieces would fit together exactly. Some days were really hard in trusting God’s plan. Now being almost eight years out of school, it’s been humbling to see how God was truly preparing me. I’m able to see some of the fruit of that discipline and how all the “knowledge” I gained then is being applied in my daily life now.

The apostle Paul says that those who love and obey God have many promises and one of those is that all things will work together for their good. This is not a promise that our lives will be free of pain and suffering and trial, but a promise that in all the things God allows into our lives, they will ultimately work for good. Why? Because we are in his hands. It is his working and his working is good.

By his grace, God has called us and chosen us for his purposes and plans. And if we are his, he will see us through to the end to our complete conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. In whatever circumstances and situations that come into your life, lean into God’s plan that he is working for the good even when you may not feel it.

Your life and ministry to others really does matter.

Why Your Broken Prayers Are Enough

This article (originally a blog post) was published in my column “Faith in Real Life” for Dallas Seminary’s Student Journal- Spring 2012 Issue 2. You can view the PDF here on pg. 5. 

It’s interesting how the word “prayer” conjures up many emotions and feelings for people. You might view your prayer life as a delight, a duty, or both. Maybe it just depends on what kind of day you’re having.

The demands of seminary, working, raising children, serving in ministry, and making our marriage a priority often leaves my husband and me with no choice but to fall on our knees before God. Our prayer lives have been forced to grow as our responsibilities have increased over the years, and I admit that much of my strength has come from confessing my absolute brokenness.

The Sweet Word Abba

When I was single, I had a more designated time for prayer, but now my prayers are more unscheduled, short, and spontaneous. And lately the prayer I offer most to God is help! I’ve also had times when the only words I could offer were tears. And of course the most pivotal prayer of all was when I asked Jesus to save me.

But most of the time I still feel this pressure to offer drawn-out, formal prayers to God, and if I don’t do that, I’m not spiritual. But it’s interesting to note that in Romans, Paul says that in our spirit we cry out, “Abba, Father” in our adoption as His children. And that’s a short prayer if I’ve seen one.

Being Natural with God

I’ve been reading the 30-day devotional book called Prayer by Charles Spurgeon, and in it he says, “I think this sweet word Abba was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, not stilted and formal.” Spurgeon goes on to say that sometimes our prayers to God are more like groans and longings, and that when we cry Abba, “The cry in our hearts is not only childlike, but the tone and manner of utterance are equally so.”

I can just picture the tone and manner of the word “D-a-d-d-y” when a child is in great danger or in need of help, and how when we cry “A-b-b-a” to our Heavenly Father, it is the same.

Embracing a Child-like Faith

Spurgeon’s words have reminded me that it’s okay to offer such a short, broken prayer when that’s all I can do. They’ve also reminded me that lots of things keep me from being natural and real with God, among them pride, stubbornness, fear, my inability to trust Him with everything, and my failure to believe that He loves me.

But when I come to God as my Abba, tell him all that He already knows, and be real with Him, I’m amazed at how He shows Himself and works in my heart. My heart is overwhelmed with joy because I learn more about His grace and patience toward me. It’s as if He’s saying, “I love being your Abba.”

My true desire is to be more open with God and to not hide so much. In child-like faith, I want to crawl up in His lap and be in His presence. And in the coming days where I’m sure I’ll have to offer up one-worded prayers again, I can be honest and trust that He is listening—because I am His child and He is my Abba.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

When You Pray for & Love Your City

photo credit: athensboy.wordpress.com

This past Sunday, our church partnered with 15 local churches to pray for 18,000 homes in the city of Rowlett, TX (just outside Dallas).

Our church gathered together for worship, a message of encouragement, instructions, and then our leaders sent us off. I teamed up with an incredible family in our church, Judy and Ali Master, along with their four children.

A Prayer of Blessing

I didn’t quite know what to expect with this kind of event, but I knew that there is power in prayer and you never know the hardship, chaos, or disfunction going on inside someone’s house. All of us have experienced pain in some way or another. We were being sent out to pray this prayer of blessing over each home:

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

During the first few homes we prayed for, we noticed a middle schooler riding his bike on the road. He rode up on the sidewalk and we introduced ourselves. His name was Ryan and he attended the school our church met in right down the road.

I told him what we were doing and I asked him if he wanted to join us. I figured he’d think I was wacky for asking such a question, but I wanted him to know we noticed and cared about him.

He responded with a sincere “No” and rode off. I was a little disappointed but I couldn’t blame him! We were complete strangers.

An Unexpected Breakthrough

We continued on our walk, discreetly praying for each home. Ryan was still riding his bike just ahead of us. I told Judy and her daughter, Molly, about how interesting it was that he was still “with us” an hour into it all. They’d been thinking the same exact thing.

Towards the end of our designated houses, Judy engaged in more conversation with him and invited him to our church. He opened up more and said his parents were divorced and that he might be at his dad’s on the weekend. We told him whatever he could do was fine.

The Master’s and I headed to our cars to load up, and Ryan rode over near my van. He asked me some questions about my kids and told me more about the dynamics of his family. I was amazed at how nice he was and how natural it was to talk to him. He was totally different than when we’d first met.

Then he asked what time our church started because he forgot. I told him when to come and he said he was going to try and make it this coming Sunday.

Living, Learning, Loving Redemptively

I was so excited about Ryan’s willingness to join us. I believe he saw Christ living through us and that light was attractive. It was encouraging that our prayers to make a difference in someone’s life were being answered.

Being on mission with the Master’s created a special bond between us as we worked together to reach out to Ryan and love on him. At the end of the day, whether he comes to our church this Sunday or not, I just hope that he knows he’s loved and prayed for and that ultimately he will come to know Christ.

Acts 29 church planter, Jonathan Dodson, says:

The power of redemption, in turn, changes the heart of man who can change his culture and his city. Liberated from the power and penalty of sin, the redeemed are released into true humanity. In turn, we devote ourselves to living, learning, and loving redemptively.  (See Article: “Hate the City, Love the City”)

When redemption is truly understood and lived out in our daily life, it becomes impossible not to pray for and love the people inhabiting our cities. How convicting and challenging this is, but what a joy to be apart of the redemption God desires for each and every person we come in contact with.

How are you doing at loving your city?

Finding My Way

Yesterday, I walked to our local Starbucks with my little ones to try a mocha coconut latte. A few minutes into our walk, I noticed a man following close behind me. I pulled off into the grass with my stroller so he could pass us.

“Oh, thank you. I’m just trying to find my way!” he said in a long, drawn-out voice.

He glanced down at a piece of paper and had a pencil in his hand. He asked me where Worth Street was and I guided him to it.

He went on his way and I immediately thought about how much I related to his words. In life I often feel like I’m trying to find my way. I wonder if God is taking me down the right path. Does he really know my deepest dreams and desires for the future? Is He with me?

My prayers in college were to marry a godly man, have children, be involved in ministry/be on mission, and write. And I’m so thankful that at 28 years old, God has brought all of those to me and so much more. I’ve been living those dreams for several years now, day in and day out.

But often in the back of my mind I still think I need to “arrive” in life.

The truth is that I have all I need right now, and God is finding the way for me. He’s finding those dreams in the deepest recesses of my heart and he’s fulfilling them. I don’t have to figure them out or manipulate them to come true. He’s working even when I don’t see it.

He’s answering prayers according to His will, even if his ways aren’t exactly what I planned. He always knows best. He’s proved his faithfulness in the past and will continue to prove his future grace.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Prov. 3:5-6

Do you ever feel like you have to “arrive”?

why your broken prayers are enough

Since having children, my prayer life has changed a lot. I used to have a more designated time for prayer, but now my prayers are more unscheduled, short and spontaneous. And lately the prayer I feel I offer most to God is Help!

I’ve also had times when the only words I could offer were tears.

And the most pivotal prayer of all was when I asked Jesus to Save me.

But most of the time I still feel this pressure to offer drawn out, formal prayers to God- and if I don’t do that, I’m not spiritual. But it’s interesting to note that in Romans, Paul says that in our Spirit we cry out, “Abba, Father” in our adoption as his children.

And that’s a short prayer if I’ve seen one.

I’ve been reading this 30-day devotional treasury book on Prayer by Charles Spurgeon and in it he says, “I think this sweet word Abba was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, not stilted and formal.” Spurgeon goes on to say how sometimes our prayers to God are more like groans and longings and how when we cry Abba,”The cry in our hearts is not only childlike, but the tone and manner of utterance are equally so.”

I can just picture the tone and manner of the word “D-a-d-d-y” when a child is in great danger or in need of help and how when we cry “A-b-b-a” to our Heavenly Father it is the same.

Spurgeon’s words have reminded me that it’s okay to offer such a short, broken prayer when that’s all I can do. They’ve also reminded me that lots of things keep me from being natural and real with God: Pride, stubbornness, my inability to trust Him with everything, my failure to see that he loves me, and much more.

But my true desire is to be more open with God and to not hide so much. In child-like faith, I want to crawl up in his lap and just be in his presence. And in the coming days where I’m sure I’ll have to offer up one-worded prayers again, I can be honest and trust that he is listening because I am his child and He is my Abba.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

Choosing Gratitude

This week- just a day before Thanksgiving- I’ve been reminded of how ungrateful I am over so many things. It’s such a crazy thing because I’d normally consider myself a thankful person but I’ve been taking a good look into my heart and I’ve found some ugly parts that aren’t so beautiful.

Like being ungrateful that:

  • we live in a tiny apartment with no space for anything
  • I can’t fit into any jeans because I’m in the awkward stage of post pregnancy
  • we are always paying bills and can’t seem to build our savings account how we want
  • the weather is 80 degrees in late November
  • I rarely have time for “me” because my toddler needs constant attention

Instead of being grateful that:

  • we have a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over our head, and seminary life is for a season
  • I just gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl
  • God has given us the ability to make money and our needs are met above and beyond
  • It’s not so cold that you can’t go outside
  • I’m investing into the life of my child so he can make a difference in the world one day

It’s hard to be thankful when things aren’t always the way I hope they’d be. But supernaturally, God is able to help me choose gratitude and give me real joy– every day- not just when I’m gathered around the table for turkey once a year.

And that is what’s beautiful!

Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thes. 5:16-18

a deeper Prayer life

When I was getting ready this morning and realized it was the National Day of Prayer, I couldn’t stop thinking about the prayers my Mom has prayed for me all my life.

“When you were born,” she would say… “I started praying that God would bring you a godly husband.”

Now almost five years into marriage, I can see why she prayed that. The decision to marry Jeremiah has profoundly impacted my life. He has been right there with my mom when it comes to the most influential person in my life and faith.

I’m not sure what my life would look like today without my mom’s prayers. I credit so much to them.

Then I started to think about my own prayer life. Who am I praying for and with on a regular basis? How am I doing in humbling myself and truly depending on Christ for every need I have? Why am I such a slacker at it?

Prayer has never come easy for me. I know that it’s the essence of my faith in Christ. It’s knowing him more and allowing him to change me, not just circumstances. It’s getting rid of self, to pray for others. But a lot of my prayers are on the go, in the car, or with Jeremiah at night. And I want more than that.

And I know it’s up to me to discipline myself in it, not because of duty, but because I delight in all that Christ is.

Whose prayers are you grateful for? Are you reminded of anything on this National Day of Prayer?

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