Guest post by Ron Lease
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thinks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Th 5:11, 16-18 ESV)
School is now back in full swing. Some of us have kids who are still in elementary, middle, or high school. We get to deal with spelling bees, science fair projects, mandatory readings, and other joys / tribulations. Some parents and students view these assignments with dread, while others look forward to what a new year of learning will bring.
Some of us have kids (adults!) who left for college, whether for the first time or the fourth. While we used to dread the cornucopia of math worksheets and other campfire fodder, we now yearn for those days. Instead of hugs and kisses every night, we get text messages and FaceTime, Skype, and text messages.
Yet others of us have watched our kids complete their education. Perhaps they have families of their own. Perhaps our kids have kids of their own! We get to relive the high points of primary and secondary education without having to deal with the negative aspects. Grandparents don’t want to hear when the little dear skipped an assignment.
Regardless, all God-fearing parents share one thing: they pray without ceasing! First day of kindergarten? Pray for the parents and the students. First day of middle school? You bet there’s some praying! First day of driving? Ooooooooh boy. Parents will pray more during this time than many others. First day in college and not at home? Prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer!
Now, whether dealing with fear and anxiety of offspring being away from home, or excitement about what our children are learning, we must stay connected with God through all of this. When Moses was speaking to Joshua, he gave these encouraging words. “‘It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed [emphasis added]'” (Deut 31:8 ESV). Couple this with God’s message to Israel in Isaiah 41:10 (NIV), “‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'” God wants us to trust Him, not live in fear.
Linda Gilden gave a practical example of relying on God. Linda was praying for her collegiate daughter and sensed a powerful response from God. “‘I am in control. I love her even more than you do. Rest in that'”. Wow! Linda realized that while praying for God to move in her daughter’s heart, God was moving in Linda’s heart too! Remember, praying is not a one-sided conversation. We must be still and listen for a response. We must also realize that God is just as likely to move in us as he is to move in the heart of the person for whom we are praying. So pray boldly for your children. Watch what God does in them, and watch what God does in you! “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Tim 1:7 NIV).
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:4-7 ESV). Essentially Paul was writing that the people of the church of Philippi should be humble in praying and earnest in seeking God, and that the peace of God will guard their hearts and minds. Paul was teaching a principle of peace, not fear or anxiety.
As we read in Ron’s post on El Shaddai, we have a God, an Almighty God, who looks after us and cares for us. The important message of this post is that God looks after and cares for our kids too! God loves our children even more than we do!
While this verse is more about children in faith than about actual children, it’s still a verse that can sit on every parent’s heart. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4 ESV). Part of raising and caring for our children is covering them in prayer. Another (key) part is trusting that God, who loves our children dearly, will care for them in ways that we cannot. We should pray in Jesus’ name as this brings glory to both God the Father and God the Son. “‘Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son'” (John 14:13 ESV).