As parents we pray diligently for our children, at least until they’re born. We then spend the rest of the time praying for ourselves, “Lord, deliver us from this evil.” I think the prayers of today’s parents may go something like this:

Dear Lord, I pray that You keep my child away from all evil, especially tattoos. I didn’t bring this child into the world to be another person’s Etch A Sketch. I don’t buy shin guards and helmets or lather on sunscreen three times a day at the beach to protect their bodies so they can later become walking art. And if they do get a tattoo, please don’t let it be one of those Chinese characters that can be read two different ways, like “love” or “idiot” depending on which way you look at it.

Deliver them from the Internet, cell phones, iPads, mp3 players, Facebook and most of all, addiction to texting. When You gave them thumbs, they were never meant to go that fast on tiny keyboards. While You are delivering, could You also deliver them from designer coffee with names that include words I never learned in grammar school, exotic bottled waters that are captured somewhere in a magical forest and any fast food restaurant?

May their friends lead them not into temptation, including diving with sharks, jumping out of airplanes, bungee jumping or any sport that has the word “extreme” in front of it. I pray that they will be smart enough to notice the red light that comes on in the car when something needs to be taken care of, but not so smart that they don’t ever need to come to me for help and advice.

I pray that during their teenage years, their hormones won’t turn them into a whining, pouting, knuckle-dragging, monosyllabic grunting creatures who even I can’t recognize. If this does happen, would You remind me on a daily basis, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13)?  And when they get older, may they fly the coop, but love to come home and visit. (When I say visit, I don’t mean move back in with a wife and three children.) I pray that they would use their eyes more for looking up and into other people’s than down at a little square screen. May they realize that they are here not to mark time, but to make a difference. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Now I know that was a tongue-in-cheek prayer, but if you really want to pray over your children, pray the Word of God. The students I work with sometimes think I’m weird, but many times when I pray over them, I ask them not to close their eyes or bow their heads. Instead, I look directly into their eyes and pray for them. There is a difference between praying for our children and praying into our children. Here are some scriptural insights you ought to pray for your children:

Salvation: Even before my grandson was born, I prayed for his salvation. “I pray that You would quicken in my child a need for You. I pray for that day when the Holy Spirit will whisper in their heart, ‘Today is the day of salvation.” (Isa. 45:8, 2 Tim. 2:10)

Growth in God’s Wisdom: “I pray my child will not only have knowledge of your Word, but also understanding. I ask that they will have the ability to apply Your Word in every situation and  proclaim Your Word as a light and a lamp for their lives.” (2 Peter 3:1, Psalm 119:105)

Self-Worth: “I pray they will assign their worth and value not based upon the world’s measuring stick, but upon what You say, that they are Your workmanship and You have pronounced them ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’  (Eph. 2:10, Psalm 139:14).”

Servant Heart: “I pray that my child would have the heart of Jesus, ‘Who did not come to be served, but to serve’ (Matt. 28:20b), that through serving they will have opportunities to tell others of God’s love.” (Eph. 6:7)

Heart for the Nations: “I give my child back to You for Your glory and Kingdom. I pray that You will instill within them a heart for the nations at an early age, so they will have a desire to serve wherever You can best use them to be salt and light.” (Psalm 96:3, Matt. 28:19-20)

There are two ways to pray for children. The first is to pray them through things like tattoos, skydiving and prom night, and there is nothing wrong with that. But there is also a higher way to pray for them, and that is to pray for their lives to be aligned with His holy Word.

And one more thing: may the Lord bless your children with acne-free skin and straight teeth.