~by Randy Bushey
What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
For what do you pray, when praying for your children?
Sometimes the content of prayer for kids is age-dependent, dealing with the circumstances of their lives at various stages: cutting teeth, sleeping through the night, physical and emotional development, school progress, getting along with siblings and friends. And as they get older, the prayers become more nuanced as life becomes increasingly complex: decisions around education, career, dating and marriage.
At any age, we can pray for children and grandchildren to have a greater capacity for spiritual characteristics, those marks of an increasing Christ-like life; to pray for spiritual features that reflect the work of the Spirit of God in the child of God.
Paul summarizes: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
Each of these we want to see growing in increasing measure.
But what about faith? Paul mentions faithfulness, which we understand to be loyal, dependable and reliable, constant in affection and allegiance.
But faith is different: it is confidence, trust and belief in another.
Like many parents or grandparents, I pray that the kids I love would rapidly grow in love, mercy, humility, and self-discipline.
But faith is different.
My prayer for the children I love is to advance in faith commensurate with their maturity – not to grow ahead of it. That’s when kids can get into trouble.
The naivete of children is something that we treasure; but it also requires vigilant protection. Because kids are naturally too trusting, those who care for them take up the duty to protect against those unworthy of their faith; those who seek to exploit and wound.
For that reason, faith is unlike any other spiritual characteristic. And yet, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
Therein lies the paradox of faith.
We need to teach children of all ages, that biblical faith is totally dependent on the One who is the Foundation of that faith, the Ground of one’s faith. One can have very little faith; but it’s the God in whom faith is placed that matters for spiritual growth, and to be pleasing to the Lord.
Bible teacher N.T. Wright explains that for some faith can be like a massive, floor-to-ceiling picture window, whereas for others it is a tiny key-hole. But what’s more important than the range of vision is the God who is on the other side.
Takeaway: And so for our kids and grand-kids, I pray for faith that corresponds with their maturity, and for the wisdom for faith to be placed in deserving people.
And I pray for a capacity for faith in God that outsizes the limitations of their normal age-related maturity. That they would paradoxically have the wisdom to grow exponentially in faith in their Heavenly Father.
But most of all, I pray that our children would be surrounded in our faith community at Bethel with Christ-followers of all ages who model for them in real life and real time tangible, actionable faith.
CAT (content, assent and trust) faith. Saving faith. Faith that receives the righteousness of Christ.