My son was arrested last year; my daughter is disrespectful to her dad and me and doesn’t seem interested in church or God. I constantly pray for my kids, yet sometimes, I wonder if God hears my prayers. I feel so hurt and hopeless as I see my kids drifting away from the ways we taught them and from God. Does God really hear and answer prayers?
As parents ourselves, we are touched personally by your question. Each day, we pray, pleading on behalf of our children for God to protect them and save them in His kingdom. We want to assure you that God hears and answers prayers (Matthew 7:7). There are many reasons people, especially parents, question the effectiveness of their prayers. These reasons may include guilt, fear, helplessness, and hopelessness. We might admit that when our kids don’t turn out the way we raised them, we somehow feel that perhaps God is punishing us for something we did or didn’t do right with them. That guilt leads to worshiping God out of fear instead of a genuine and honest relationship with our heavenly Father.
The wonderful thing about God is that He is love! He loves us “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). We are also reminded in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Don’t allow guilt, fear, and anxiety about punishment to cripple you as a parent.
God is a loving parent who longs for us to enter into a deep and genuine relationship with Him. He wants us to understand who He is as a parent, so we can then know how to parent our children. He definitely knows firsthand what it is like to see a child in anguish and pain. He sent His own Son to earth as a human being to experience pain and suffering on our behalf (John 3:16). Jesus reacted much the same as we do when He asked three times if there was another way. He also displayed a sense of human abandonment when He exclaimed: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34).
Perhaps our difficulty with praying is that we can accept God’s “Yes,” but we have difficulty with His “No” or His “Wait.” One way to learn how to accept the negative or wait for answers is to keep a record of all the positive answers we’ve received. Has God been good to you? Has He answered any of your prayers? Can you think of any blessings you have received from Him? Do you have anything to be thankful for? God’s promises are true! He is faithful! Memorize His promises such as Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
God wants us to cry out to Him daily. When we pray, our prayers should not only be filled with demands but with praise and thanksgiving. The more we praise, the more we are reminded of God’s love, grace, and mercy. Our prayers do make a difference; praying changes our circumstances, and, most importantly, praying changes us. Prayer draws us closer to God, so “ pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The closer we draw to God, the more we are convicted that He indeed hears and answers our prayers every day and always.
Ultimately, your children will have to choose for themselves to live by the values you taught them. Keep praying for them, trusting God to reveal Himself to them. Hopefully, they will choose to follow God, but no matter what they choose, continue to love your children unconditionally, just as God loves us.
Originally published in Message Magazine’s March/April 2013 Edition