“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
School started this week, at least in our community.
And as we think about the beginning of another school year and all that entails, we couldn’t stop thinking about this quote (allegedly by Mother Theresa, although we couldn’t actually track down the original source).
We love it. Because if you haven’t caught on yet, we are all about generations when it comes to spiritual impact, and we agree with Mother Theresa: the best place to start when it comes to making disciples and building spiritual generations is with the little (or big) people God has already graciously and in His sovereignty put in our homes and under our influence: our children (or spiritual children, or grandchildren, or siblings, or even our parents!).
But how do we move into this amazing responsibility of discipling our children (or continue on when things just keep getting harder)? One of the best ways we’ve found is through strategic prayer. We’ve again partnered with Eagle Lake Camps to bring you a list of prayers and promises you can begin using to evaluate your own heart and pray over your people. We’re ready to change the world; let’s start with our families!
Quick Note: Wondering how this applies to discipleship outside of parenthood? Remember in 1 Corinthians 4 Paul writes, “I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had then thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the Gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me” (14-16). Jim Downing shared with us in his podcast that when he was discipling someone, he thought of them as his spiritual children, working for their maturity. We believe that all of the below can apply to a spiritual parent as well as a physical one!
Strategic Scripture (with evaluating questions):
Psalm 127:3,5 → “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him . . . Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
- Ask yourself: When I look at my (spiritual) children, do I always see them as a heritage, a sacred trust and gift from the Lord? Do I see myself as blessed in being entrusted with their care? (This doesn’t mean it’s not going to be hard – spoiler alert: it IS! But are you continually reminding yourself that even in the hard, these people are God’s plan and grace for you, and they are worth it?)
- Pray: for perspective – that the Father would help you think generationally, and that in the everyday mundane moments with your children, you would remember that it’s never too early to begin investing spiritually in someone! (Prov. 22:6, Deut. 6:6-7)
Jeremiah 3:19 → “I myself said, ‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’”
- Ask yourself: Am I glad to give the best parts of myself to my kids: my time, my energy, my attention? Would they say I lavish love on them?
- Pray: that the Lord would give you creativity and an abundance of patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control so that you would know how to lavish your children with love, and that they would understand that your love is really an outpouring of the Father’s love for them. (Gal. 5:22, 1 John 3:1)
Proverbs 31:26-28 → “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”
- Ask yourself: Are my words life-giving: wise and faithful to the Word in order to build up my children? Am I being lazy, putting myself first, or am I managing my home well?
- Pray: for wisdom and self-control to let the Spirit guide your words so they build your children up. (2 Tim. 1:7, Eph. 4:29)
Jeremiah 32:39 → “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.”
- Ask yourself: Am I single-minded in my love for and pursuit of Jesus, knowing that my pursuit of Him is also what is truly for my children’s best good, remembering that it is “from the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks,” and that what I offer to my children when my heart is fixed on Jesus is therefore from Him and not just myself? Am I also pursuing singleness of heart and action with my spouse so that we are on the same page as we seek our kids’ good together?
- Pray: for a heart fully committed to the Father and the Gospel of Jesus. (2 Chron. 16:9, Philippians 3:7-8)
Proverbs 13:24 → “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
- Ask yourself: Am I careful not only to discipline my children when they need it (and not just look the other way when it’s easier to ignore behavior issues) but in how I discipline, strategically thinking through logical and creative consequences (responding instead of simply reacting)? Am I disciplining (focusing on restorative justice that is centered on my child) or punishing (focusing on myself / feelings of failure or embarrassment that my child’s choices have brought out)?
- Pray: for self-control to not act out of frustration or anger, but to have the wisdom to know how to respond to your child’s behavior with mercy and justice, and in a way that will not cause him to lose heart but desire repentance. (Hebrews 12:5-6, Col. 3:21)
2 Chron. 22:3 → “[Ahaziah] also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly.” // Proverbs 31:1 → “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him. . . .” // Matthew 14:8 → “Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’” // 2 Timothy 1:15 → “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.”
- Ask yourself: Am I not only owning but actively investing in my influence, which impacts my children’s spiritual lives?
- Pray: for the grace to model a life following Christ well, and for creativity to turn daily life into teachable moments so your children begin to see how Jesus is part of their everyday lives. (Eph. 5:2, Proverbs 22:6)
Proverbs 29:15 → “. . . a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
- Ask yourself: Do I press in and engage with my kids, especially when they ask, and even when I’d rather be doing something else or they seem “fine enough” playing on their own?
- Pray: for humility to put your children’s best interest above your own, and to serve them in love. (Philippians 2:3-4, Mark 10:45)
Isaiah 66:12-13 → “For thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.’”
- Ask yourself: Am I physically/emotionally/spiritually a safe place of nourishment (nursing), help (carried), joy (bouncing), and comfort for my children?
- Pray: for a heart that not only desires but actively engages with your kids to become like this (nourishing, helpful, joyful, and burden-bearing) for them. (Col. 3:15-17, Rom. 15:13)
Isaiah 40:29-31 → “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
- Ask yourself: Am I trying to do this on my own strength, aiming for perfection? Do I fall into the trap of thinking that if I don’t do this whole parenting thing perfectly, my children are doomed? Do I equate mistakes as failure and discouragement as God’s distance or disapproval? Or am I abiding in Jesus, trusting GOD to do the work, believing his grace is made perfect in my weaknesses, and simply allowing Him to work in and through me to influence my children?
- Pray: for trust in God’s perfect grace and the ability to remember that in His perfect sovereignty, these are the people He chose to put in your sphere of influence. Pray also for protection from doubt and fear of failure, and for hope in His provision. (2 Cor. 9:8, Gal. 6:9)
Want these in a convenient, printable card? Click here!
We believe that if you’re reading this, you desire to please God and do as He says. (Especially if you’ve gotten this far!) But please remember, even in the Great Commission, we’re neither expected nor able to go at it alone. When Jesus says “you,” it’s a plural you, more like the Southern “y’all.” This whole “change the world” thing doesn’t hinge on us alone – God said He would be with us, and He made us a part of HIS family in His love. Together, brothers and sisters, we can do this!
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matt. 28: 18-20)