Spiritual Conversations with Older Children
My high school daughter had her friend, Cynthia, over for dinner the other night. As we ate and talked, Cynthia asked if we could pray for the dad of another friend. She had recently heard from that friend that her dad was really sick. We stopped eating and took a moment to pray for the friend and her dad, for healing and for comfort. After we prayed, Cynthia asked if I regularly prayed for her. Her mom is one of my best friends and someone who I have prayed with for years. I looked at her and answered, “Yes, I do pray for you.” Then she said, “Like by name, you pray for me?”
I could tell I had the attention of both girls. I responded, “Yes, by name. Your mother is one of my best friends and I pray for her and for your family.” The next question of course was, “Does she tell you, like, private stuff about me?” As close friends, we do share a lot with one another; but we also share general prayer requests about the condition of our children’s hearts, and their spiritual understanding and growth. I told Cynthia that we respected our children’s privacy, but we prayed for their hearts and their relationships with Jesus.
Her questions continued, and both she and my daughter were listening intently. “Do you pray for me every day, or like how often?” I then pulled out my prayer journal and talked about ACTS — the discipline of praying by using Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. I showed both of them how I read a passage, usually a Psalm, and consider what that passage teaches me about the character of God. I explained how I then write in my journal a “prayer of adoration” focusing on the characteristics of God within that particular scripture. I took a little bit of time to explain Confession and Thanksgiving, and how I used verses to pray and journal about those as well.
Then I showed them the Supplication verses that I use to pray for spiritual transformation in those around me. I shared that I intercede on specific issues and prayer requests for others, and that I pray for specific people on specific days. While I pray for my family and my senior pastor and his family daily, I pray for neighbors one day, co-workers one day, and certain ministries on another day. As long as they were willing to listen, I shared that I pray for needs: a job, healing, answers, whatever circumstances or situations called for prayer. I also shared that I prayed specific verses for believers: that the fruit of the spirit would be evident in their lives, that they would know and live as children of God (not orphans), that they would have the desire and the courage to share the truth of the gospel with others. My prayers for non-believers include asking God to fill them with a hunger and a thirst to know him, that he would turn their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.
The girls seemed to take all of this information in and had a few more questions before the conversation turned back to what was for dessert and the latest on TikTok.
My prayer is that I can revisit this conversation with my daughter and her friend in a few weeks or months. I hope to pass along resources and tools to both of them that will encourage them to develop their own discipline of prayer. Spending time in God’s word, praying, drawing near to our Father, and experiencing the presence of the Lord are means of grace that grow our faith.
When we are able to share with our children what God is doing in our lives and how we spend our own time in relationship with him, we have an opportunity to be authentic and show them that God is at work not because of who we are but because of who he is. We are in this together and while we, as parents, have an ounce of wisdom because of our life experience, God is the one who is all-knowing.
My desire is not to be some kind of an expert, but for the Lord to give me and my husband moments of opportunity that allow us to share our faith with our children. Our walk is far from perfect and we have so much to learn. One of the greatest gifts our Father has given us is that we are image bearers created to share his truth. He is allowing us to be a part of making disciples. It is a sacred privilege to show others, especially our children, doorways that they can go through to seek the Lord and experience fellowship with him on their own.
When my children were young, I taught them with words, prayers, stories, and discipline. As they have grown, there is a lot more listening, praying, and remembering that God loves my children even more than I do. He has a story for their lives that He has written for them. It is not my job to try to write the story. It is my job to love, pray, and continually point them to the Father. With some older children, this is a joy as they are pursuing Jesus. With other children, it can be painful and lonely as they struggle and pursue the things of the world.
Parents, I encourage you to pray for moments to sow seeds of faith in and set godly examples for your children. Psalm 91 reminds us that our Father is the Most High, the Almighty, our refuge and fortress; he is trustworthy. Nothing is impossible for him, his power is greater than we can imagine or understand. As we seek the Father, may he give us eyes to see the opportunities and ways that we can show our children his unconditional love and point them to their Savior, Jesus Christ.