From the moment I saw you, I started to pray.
Big prayers and small ones I have sent God’s way.
I prayed as I held you when you sat in my lap.
I prayed while we rocked, as you peacefully napped.
–Matthew Paul Turner
It’s a gift and a joy to pray for our children. Our biological children, our grandchildren, our foster children, our adopted children, our nieces and nephews, and perhaps most meaningfully the children in our church families.
When I was in elementary school, my home church (Hope Mennonite in Wichita) invited adults in the congregation to draw the name of a child from a basket. They were encouraged to pray for that child, and to writes notes or in other ways share their love (and God’s!) to the child. I was blessed by a woman who not only cared for me over those few weeks, but continued the relationship through high school and college, and continues to think of me today. Even though I live out of town and have my own daughter, she takes time to speak with my parents and to check up on me. When I visit Hope she is intentional about greeting me. I knew I was loved and enveloped in prayer.
Some congregations in WDC are blessed with overflowing Sunday school rooms and dozens of community children on Wednesday nights–some struggle to keep young families because their children are the only ones in Sunday school. No matter where your congregation falls on this continuum, I’d like to offer an invitation. As Easter approaches and we celebrate Jesus’ great love for us, I invite you to extend that love to your children. The children in your home or your children at church–pray for them, greet them, write them a note on their birthdays or another holiday, in some way show that you care. You may be surprised at how a simple gesture can teach them (and their parents) what it means to be a part of the family of God. I will never forget how loved and supported I felt as a parent last Advent season when people at First Mennonite (Newton) took the time to cut and paint wooden nativity figures for not only my toddler daughter, but for every child in the congregation. I am not alone in praying for her. I am not alone in modeling God’s love. She is loved and she will know it.
I began with a quote from Matthew Paul Turner’s “When I Pray for you” and would like to end the way he ends the book. As you think about all the children in your life, pray boldly and dream big dreams for them. May these words undergird our prayers for our children and for one another.
I’ll pray where you go, that wherever you land,
you’ll find purpose and meaning and a role in God’s plan.
That you’ll know who you are. And like what you do.
And love yourself fully, as God wants you to.
‘Cause when I pray for you,
I pray all that you do brings love and brings light,
and helps the world shine like new.
P.S. To read the full text of “When I Pray for You” or another great title about loving the children in your life (or for other parenting and faith-shaping and sharing resources) stop by the Conference Resource Library in North Newton, or contact Jennie at firstname.lastname@example.org