Rooted Recommends: Kathleen Nielson’s Prayers for a Parent Series
How do you pray when you aren’t sure what to say or how to say it? Kathleen Nielson knows the parental spiritual roller-coaster. She’s lived it. And prayed through it. – Mark Vroegop
As Mark Vroegop suggests in his endorsement of Kathleen Nielson’s new series of prayer books for parents, praying for our children can be a messy business, complicated by our own sinful, emotional hearts. That’s why Nielson, mother of three married sons and eight grandchildren and a lifelong student of God’s Word, is such a wise guide for us on the journey.
This week P & R Publishing releases a series of four books that parents can use to pray for their children through the various stages of life. Nielson is familiar with the particular concerns parents face as children mature, and each book reflects the development of both the child and the parent. Because, as Nielson reminds us, as we pray for our children, God reveals much about our own hearts. These prayer guides lift our eyes from the immediate, pressing issues – prayers for a part in the play or a passing grade in biology or a friend to sit with at lunch – to matters such as salvation, mercy, generosity, and identity in Christ. These prayers focus on the spiritual formation of a disciple of Christ.
The first book, Prayers for a Parent of Young Children, centers on kids from birth to the preteen years. Nielson starts at the very beginning, with praise to the Giver of life and thanksgiving for the gift of a baby. She tackles many of the worries of new parents, such as sleep and health, while also acknowledging the culture they will grow up into, with a prayer for “finding male and female very good.” Even from our children’s earliest years we parents are reminded to ask God to lay a foundation for a godly life; prayers for loving justice, for generosity, for a desire to pray and worship are all included here.
In Prayers of a Parent for Teens, Nielson is attuned to the oh-so-special challenges teenagers pose for their parents, and the tumult the kids themselves experience during these formative years. She knows that parents of teens can be fearful of what adulthood holds. With great compassion, she gently reminds parents that while they “can’t force” their children’s spiritual growth, their fervent prayers are treasured by our heavenly Father.
In prayer for “Delighting In God’s Word,” she writes:
Your Word is living and active, O Lord,
Sharp with the power of life and death,
Gentle with sentences of love and mercy,
Piercing deep to clean a human soul.
May all the tempting words of unbelief
Be banished, by the Living Word who lights my child’s way.
Prayers for a Parent for Young Adults acknowledges that while parents are continually learning to let go, we are not launching them into the world untethered. Furthermore, “We parents are not the safe place, and the tether is not attached to us… We Christian parents don’t just let go; we purposely commit our children, from the start, into the hands of God – the only safe place.” As our children prepare to leave the home, these prayers offer comfort for moms and dads who don’t know exactly what their role ought to be with emerging adults. Even with all the changes that come, we never lose our role as a pray-er for our kids! As we practice committing our young adult children to God’s hands, we discover strength and wisdom to guide them as they go.
In Prayers of a Parent for Adult Children, Nielsen says:
“As we parents long to encourage and help [adult children], our prayers are no last resort. Our prayers are perhaps the most important way to help our children as they move on in life. Our prayers focus our own hearts before God, and they lift up our children to the heavenly Father who hears us, and who answers according to his perfect will.”
A passage of Scripture and a short encouragement accompanies each of the 31 prayers in each volume. The prayers themselves flow from Scripture, as the parent prays God’s Word and promises back to Him.
In each of these volumes, Nielsen ministers to anxious, exhausted, fearful, uncertain parents, even as she gives us words to pray for these children we love so much it hurts. Under her gentle guidance, our hearts come to rest in God’s goodness towards our families.