Thursday, February 28, 2013

Changing the Way I Pray

Look at that face.

It's the face of a {perfect} child.
Except for when it's not.

He's going to grow up and become a man someday.

He's going to get married and have children.

He's going to look back and think of all the things he will do different in raising his own family.

And contrary to how that might sound, I have no problem with that. In fact, it brings me much peace to believe that he will aspire to be a better parent and spouse  and person than I am or ever will be.

And as his mother, of course, I pray for him and that future all the time.

But not in the way I always imagined I would.

Example: When I was a teenager, True Love Waits was just getting some notariety. It's popularity was increased with books like "I Kissed Dating Goodbye".

In that season of abstenance-education, when I would pray for my future husband, I would pray the ever-noble "keep us both pure" if somehow, free-will wasn't an issue in the romance area.

And while my heart was in the right place, I believe that prayers like that (in my own case) were somewhat misdirected.

I mean, even then? I struggled with questions like What if my future-husband-to-be didn't know about True Love Waits. What if he'd never read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, What if he wasn't even a believer at that time? What if he Was and yet still made bad choices.

What if I did?

Did that mean God wasn't answering my prayers? Did that mean I would walk the rest of my life full of shame and guilt? Did it mean I was no longer worthy? Of course not. 

My sins were on that cross. I wasn't redeemed because I had never sinned..but rather because I had. And would again at some point.

Redemption wasn't offered because I was good enough, Grace was given because I wasn't.

But because I had focused on the sin and not the grace, my view of the value each held was distorted...

And just for the record, I completely support the True Love Waits initiative and it's counterparts. It isn't that I don't believe in abstenance and monogamy and the beauty of marriage as it was intended, unaffected by shame.

I do. (and will preach the same to my children)

It's just that..that is just one example of the way we often pray about the future....maybe instead of praying that my children or even my children's future-spouses behave a certain way or enjoy certain things or even avoid certain mistakes...

Maybe instead of all that?

I focus my prayer on the foundation of all it all.


"For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God" (AMP) Eph. 2:8

I will devote my life to raising children who desire Jesus. Who long to be with Him and fulfil their part in advancing the Kingdom of God. I will pray that God will shield them from hurts and rejection and mistakes that undoubtedly have consequences. I will train my child with discipline, direction, love, and The Word of God. I will ALWAYS pray that the Holy Spirit would be an ever-present voice when my children face choices and that their hearts would be soft and their ears would be open to listen to the direction of the Lord.

But they won't always.

And no matter how long I stand before the throne of God on their behalf? They will sin.

And so more than all those other things, I will contend for their quick repentence and return to their Father. I will cry out on their behalf. And most importantly, I will beseech the Almighty for a greater impartation of His Grace in my life.

I pray that my children believe wholeheartedly in their salvation through grace. That they would expect that same grace extended from us {their parents} and that they would be quick to return that grace to the people around them.

That our expectations of each other would be muted by the overwhelming faith in a God that has poured out unlimited grace on us, despite our sinful nature.

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”Rom.5:20

So, no longer will I pray that my children will avoid certain mistakes and sins. No longer will I pray for a specific personality trait or desireable habit from their future spouses. No longer will I focus on the things that man cares about...

Instead? I choose to focus on the desires of their hearts.

That they would be ever-turned to the desires of God's heart and that their lives would be guided by that relationship and the daily presense of the Holy Spirit. I pray that they would be courageous and brave for justice. That when choices are presented, they seek the will of God first. And I pray that they would walk the straight and narrow path their entire lives without looking to the left or the right when the enemy is trying to pull them in.

But when all that fails and sin occurs despite my greatest efforts?  I pray that they know Grace.

That shame and guilt are suffocated under the overwhelming love that Grace gives. And that I am able to give freely the grace that has been given to me.

I pray that they feel loved and worthy even in the midst of consequences and that I am never the vessel the enemy is able to use to cloak them again in shame and guilt.

And I pray that in my own sins, my children have an understanding of grace enough to extend it back.

Because, even in my greatest moments, I am still a sinner.

Saved only by Grace.



Tiffany said...

Wonderful writing, Ashley! I love this so much. It can be so stressful to think about keeping our children from making bad choices, when that isn't our job. We can't be our child's Holy Spirit. We can point them in that direction, but their relationship with God is their own. So. Hard. To. Let. Go.

Ashley said...

Love this!

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