The Greatest Gift
Last year, my mom was talking with me about the power of prayer and she said, “Ashley – our prayers outlive us. Isn’t that amazing? When we die, our prayers don’t. Our prayers live on.” We were going through the same Bible study, even though we were states away from each other, and we were both challenged to pray big and pray beyond ourselves because our prayers get stored up. Revelation 8 refers to the prayers of all the saints being offered up to God as an incense. I think that is such a beautiful picture. I imagine my own prayers – both the prayers of gratitude that I’ve offered up in the midst of rejoicing and those prayers that I’ve only been able to barely whisper through tears – all being offered up to God in something that is like a sweet aroma to Him. It makes me think my prayers are like a gift to the Lord.
Since my prayers outlive me, I believe my heartfelt prayers are the greatest gift I can leave my children. Prayers that will extend through generations to come. Prayers that will reverberate through my family long after my time on this earth is done, because my prayers don’t die with me.
With that thought in mind, I’ve been challenged to pray differently. One of my favorite pastors, Steven Furtick, once said in a sermon, “God isn’t a genie. He is a gardener.” As in, we shouldn’t come to God with a wish list hoping that if we rub his magic lamp just right, he will grant us wealth, health and happiness. Instead, we should come to Him knowing that He has planted us to grow into a beautiful display of His glory, but that comes as a result of being pruned. Pruning is the act of cutting away at a plant, so that it can actually grow better. Pruning is painful, but it is necessary for optimal growth.
So, I find myself praying and asking God to cut away at the dead spots in me so that new life may take root. I find myself praying not that my kids will grow up and be successful, but that they will be deeply rooted in the source from which true success flows. I pray that my kids are known one day by their fruit, not their fortune.
I got this book, Prayers for Your Children – 90 days of Heartfelt Prayers for Children of Any Age, by James Banks and if I could give one gift to all my mama friends, it would be this book.
Ya’ll it is so good. It has really helped me learn how to pray, not my will for my children, but God’s will for my children. Because it is SO easy for me to want to pray that my kids will be spared from pain and harm and hurt, but I know that isn’t realistic and I want my prayers to count. I want to pray in such a way that it moves God’s heart. I want to pray HIS best for my kids, not just the best thing I can imagine (because I’m shallow so let’s be real: the best thing I can imagine is that Andi Rose marries a super cute doctor and Atlas becomes a pro golfer). I want my prayers to be good ones because they are gifts I’m leaving to my family.
This books is changing how I pray, not only for my kids, but for Dave and myself. I like to read it with my Bible and my prayer journal all out because the book basically prays through the scriptures so I like to reference my Bible as I read each chapter in the book. The chapters are short, comprised of only 2 or 3 pages so it is an easy early morning read or nap time read. Each chapter is saturated in scripture, which is why I like having my Bible nearby. Some days, something from the chapter will jump out at me and sink deep down into my soul and I find myself praying it over my kids at the most random of times weeks later and I absolutely love that!
One of the chapters references 2 Chronicles 1:11-12. This passage of scripture says,
God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people and you did not ask for wealth, riches or fame or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people – I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future.”
Solomon moved the heart of God when he prayed for knowledge and wisdom and this passage confirms that God’s heart was moved not just because of what Solomon asked for but because of the why behind the prayer. Why did Solomon wish to be wise? Because he wanted to do right by God. He wanted to lead God’s people well. Oh, how that convicted me, challenged me and encouraged me as a young mom. I so badly want to lead these 2 tiny humans God has given me well. Society tells me I need more money so I can put them in the best private school so they can get the best education because they are going to need that education to climb that corporate ladder faster and make a name for themselves. But what if that’s all I pray for my kids? If that’s all I wish for them, then I’ve sold them short. I’ve robbed them. I certainly hope my kids do well in school. I hope they are ambitious and driven and smart, but more than anything I am praying that they love Jesus. I pray that they run hard after Him and the plan He has for their life. I pray they are wise because they walk with the Lord one day and I pray they choose to walk with him sooner in life rather than later.
I hope my family is blessed by the time I spend in prayer with the Lord. Obviously they reap the blessing of it today (because I’m much less inclined to turn into a raging psycho after I’ve spent some time in prayer), but the thing that gives me chills is knowing that Atlas and Andi Rose and maybe even my future grandchildren could be blessed by the prayers I’ve offered up to God today. I fully expect my kids to go through hard seasons & difficult times, but it gives me hope to think that in the midst of those times, God may recall all these prayers I’ve offered up as a young mother. Even if I’ve long forgotten some things I’ve prayed, He won’t.
*I wrote this post because I’ve had a few people reach out and ask me about my prayer life since it is something I talk about from time to time on the blog. I hope this helps answer some of the questions some of you have asked me about how I pray! My prayer life has certainly evolved a lot over the last 3 years and I expect it to continue to change and grow as God continues to work in my oh-so-messy-heart. Even if you’re not a parent and you’re just trying to figure out how to pray, I think I would still recommend this book. Just pray the scriptures for yourself and it’s a great resource to help walk you through your Bible too.
**Andi Rose, if you’re reading this relax! My prayers won’t be the only gift I leave you – your dad & I are making a will. I’m also leaving you my shoe collection when I die, so you’ll have something tangible. Atlas, I don’t have any money to leave you because I spent it on the shoes mentioned above. Juuuust kidding! 😜😜 PS – kids, I’m praying you both get my sense of humor.