Being a parent is hard. It's easy to get focus on the daily struggles and frustrations and forget that each day is an opportunity to teach, guide and grow my children into the unique people God created them to be.
I often come up with goals for how to relate and react to me kids, but goals only go so far. I usually end up ditching them before one day passes. Instead, I've discovered the best action for becoming a better parent is sinking to my knees.
Below are five simple prayers I've prayed, inviting God to change me so that I can change how I see my kids and how I handle each day.
1. Lord, give me new eyes. Help me see each challenge as an opportunity to train my children toward right thinking and right living. Proverbs 1:8 (NLT) says, "My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don't neglect your mother's instruction." Lord, this is a reminder that it is my job to instruct. I shouldn't expect my children to understand right and wrong. Lord, help me not to let opportunities for training slip by because I don't want to take the time to teach my children what is right and good. Help me to remember that the small things I teach my children now will be the foundation for all to come in their lives.
2. Lord, give me a new attitude. Remind me that any moment of the day can be a "start over" moment and a chance for an attitude adjustment. My bad attitude comes when I want my way or when I feel others are intruding in my comfort or peace. As Ephesians 4:2 says, "Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love." I know, Lord, that it's impossible to be humble, gentle, patient and loving and have a bad attitude at the same time. Change me on the inside, Lord, so I can change my mind and actions.
3. Lord, give me a new focus. Help me to pluck any worries from my mind and place them firmly in your hands. I know when I'm looking at worries and fear, I'm not looking at You. I also know when I'm looking at You, my worries and fear become a blur. Instead, help me to be thankful for all the ways You've already shown up in my job as a parent. Help me to trust that You'll be faithful in the future, too. As Philippians 4:6 says, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." I thank You that my focus on You will change my heart and my thoughts for the better.
4. Lord, give me compassion. Remind me what it was like to be my children's ages and have to face the struggles of growing up. Also, Lord, give me wisdom to understand that my children face new struggles I never had to at their ages because of the numerous ways our world has changed. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." Help me, Lord, to be compassionate and comforting even when it's easier just to brush off their concerns.
5. Lord, give me wisdom. Help me to see my children as who You designed them to be, instead of the images I have set up in my mind of who I'd like them to become. I may think it's important that my children get good grades or do well in sports, but I know that You see each of my children's future, and You've designed each child to carry out a special role on this earth that will help to glorify You and impact others in a positive way. Help me to be more concerned with values and habits that will impact my children for a lifetime, instead of filling up their time with activities that the world says is important. As Psalm 139:14 says, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it." Lord, don't allow me to try to put my children into cookie cutters after You've created them complex and marvelous."
When it comes to these prayers, they are not ones you pray once and then all is good from that point out. Instead, they are prayers to pray often. In fact, I encourage you to print them up and tuck them into your Bible. I've discovered that the more I turn to God for help, the better able I am to be an instructive, patient, thankful, compassionate and wise parent for my kids.
Tricia Goyer is a CBA best-selling author of 33 novels and the winner of two American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Awards (Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights). She co-wrote 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and contributed to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia is the host of a weekly radio show, "Living Inspired." Also a noted marriage and parenting writer, she lives with her husband and children in Arkansas. You can join her at TriciaGoyer.com, on Facebook and Twitter.
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