What can we learn about prayer from parenting? Quite a bit actually….
I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot in the last week or so. I’ve listened as friends have told of miraculous answers to prayer and sat in wonder at the ways I’ve seen God working. And I’ve realized a few things.
I need to pray more.
But you probably guessed that. Most of us probably do.
We need to slow down and truly converse with our Creator, to listen as much as we talk and to relish the relationship we have with Him.
You know it. I know it. But that’s not what this post is about.
It’s about the fact that more than a decade of being a parent has finally taught me something about prayer.
Obviously, I’m a slow learner, but better late than never, right?
You see, in Scripture, the picture Jesus often paints of prayer is that of a Father listening to his children, and I know a little bit about listening to mine. The similarities I found as I pondered that fact this week gave me a fresh perspective on prayer and how I should approach it.
God Already Knows Our Needs
I can’t tell you how many times I know what my kids want before they ask, but do you know what? I want them to ask me anyway.
One of my kids has really struggled with her speech, which has made communication with her difficult at times. Often, I know exactly what she wants or needs, but I don’t allow her to grunt or point. I make her ask me because it is important that she learns to communicate. It’s also vital that she becomes confident in doing so. Don’t get me wrong: she does not have to feel confident of speaking to anyone and everyone, but she needs to become confident speaking to me. I’m her mother. She can trust that I’m listening and that I want to help.
Our Father in heaven often works the same way. Matthew 6:7-8 tells us, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
But we are instructed to ask him anyway.
James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
God Knows His Answer – You Don’t.
So, if we are instructed to ask God, why don’t we?
Often, I think we are just like my kids who hesitate to ask because they think they already know the answer. Sometimes, they even go so far as to say something like, “I know the answer is no, but could we…”
If you know the answer is “no,” then why are you asking me?
Because they may be wrong. I might surprise them. And, do you know what? Sometimes, I’m just waiting to do so.
I’m taking a few women to Kenya this fall to lead a retreat for girls at a rescue home we work with, and because we really didn’t plan the trip very far in advance, I really had wondered how we were going to cover the costs of the trip. I never dreamed that by mid-July God would have provided more than we need.
I told a friend that it’s like I’m surprised by how good God is, and then I realized that’s exactly what I am! Just like my kids are surprised when my husband and I do more for them than they expect. Y’all, we delight in their delight.
I think God does, too.
He’s the Father that gives good gifts to his children. (Matthew 7:9-11)
Think of the prodigal son in Luke 15, who thought the best he could expect was to work as a hired hand. His father put a ring on his finger and a robe on his back and killed the fattened calf for him.
How surprised do you think that son was?
Don’t miss this though: He did not receive such blessings until he asked for them. He had to return home and ask for help. He got more than he asked for because of the love his father had for him.
So do we.
Father Knows Best
As much as I like to indulge my kids and surprise them, I can’t do it all the time. I have to say “no” to them sometimes, and often they just don’t understand why. Our Father in heaven has to tell us “no” sometimes, too.
Because he sees the bigger picture.
When I tell my kids “no,” there are usually a few good reasons:
- I’ve already made plans they know nothing about.
- I have something different (and better!) in mind.
- There’s something I want them to learn from waiting.
- There is a danger I see that they don’t.
- The request is good; the timing is bad.
Think through the times in your life when God said “no” to you, and it’s possible his reason was similar to one of these. It might be difficult to see his reasons at the time, but later, we often see them clearly.
The key is to trust him.
That’s what I often ask my kids when I have to tell them “no.” I say, “Do you trust me?” When it comes to the dreaded question of “Can I have a cell phone?” I’ve had to ask my preteen, “Do you trust that if your dad and I thought it was something you needed, that it is something good for you, we would give you one? Do you trust that we’re not just holding out on you?”
We have to trust that God’s not holding out on us either.
He’s not, you know.
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
Persistence in Prayer Can Affect the Answer
I have a friend who says over and over again that when it comes to kids, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.” She’s right. When it comes to parenting, consistency is key. However…..
Sometimes I change my mind, and truth be told – sometimes my kids wear me down.
They ask over and over and over again.
On some points (like the aforementioned cell phone) I stick by my answer time and time again.
On others, I reconsider.
- Because I realize how important it is to them.
- Because in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter either way.
- Because, honestly, I am tired of having them ask.
I guess I’m a bit like the judge in Luke 18, who finally gave in because that widow just kept asking.
Jesus told that story for a reason, y’all.
One reason is probably to encourage us to do the same.
Keep asking, keep praying, and keep trusting your God to do what’s best
What about you? Is there some way that parenting has changed your prayer life? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment and share something you’ve learned along the way.
Also, be sure to add a link or two for Encouraging Word Wednesday this week then visit one or two other bloggers – you’ll be blessed by their words!