A Prayer for Parenting by Grace and Faith, Not Fear and Pride
By Scotty Smith: thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Ps. 127:1-3
Heavenly Father, it’s a joy to address you today as the architect and builder of your own house—including the household of faith and our children’s place in your family. As I look back over the years of my legalistic and pragmatic parenting, I’m saddened; but I am also gladdened, for you’ve always been faithful to your covenant love, even when I was overbearing and under-believing.
The move from parenting by fear and pride, to parenting by grace and faith, has been a fitful but fruitful journey. Take me deeper, take me further. You’ve rescued me from parental “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worthiness of your love.
Oh, the arrogant pride of thinking that by our “good parenting” we can take credit for what you alone graciously do in the lives of our children. Oh, the arrogant unbelief of assuming that by our “bad parenting” we forever limit what you will be able to accomplish in the future. Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of our fear and pride, than by your love and grace.
Since our children and grandchildren are your inheritance, Father, teach us—teach me—how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners. More than anything else, show us how to parent, and grandparent, in a way that best reveals the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Convict us quickly and surely when we don’t parent your covenant children “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). May we model the reality of grace to our younger kids; and where there are breaks in relationships with our adult kids, write stories of reconciliation and beauty, for your honor and glory. So very amen we pray in Jesus’ faithful and powerful name.
P.S. Scotty later tweeted this statement: Any prayers we pray or stories we write for our children, that don’t have God’s glory & kingdom foremost in mind, are laced with idolatry