A Young Child’s Prayer For Their Parents
6 Practical Ways to Honor Your Parents
God’s commandments are perfectly clear in what they say and, broadly, in what they require. Yet implementing those commandments in practical ways and in the nitty-gritty of life can pose a challenge. It can take thought, prayer, creativity.
This is exactly the case with the fifth commandment—“honor your father and your mother”—and especially so for adult children.
Young children honor their parents through their obedience, but what about adults? How do we honor our parents in ways that are fitting? Become a Patron
I’ve taken a long time to get to this point in my series The Commandment We Forgot, and this has been deliberate. Our tendency is to skip over foundational matters to get straight to the practical stuff.
Just give me the list of things to do and I’ll do them! But the deepest change to ourselves as well as the most appropriate honor to our parents will come when we first ensure we understand God’s commandment—what it means, why he gives it, why it matters so much.
I trust you’ve tracked with me through the previous articles and if you’ve done that, you’re now ready to consider practical ways in which you can honor your parents.
Honor to Whom Honor Is Due
In a previous article I pointed out that honoring parents is a form of honoring all authority, including God himself.
As Tim Keller says, “it’s respect for parents that is the basis for every other kind of respect and every other kind of authority.
” I have pointed out as well that there is no ending point to this commandment—we are to honor our parents in childhood and adulthood, for we owe them a debt of honor that never ends.
What is the honor God means for us to give our parents? I am going to offer 6 broad suggestions, though certainly we could come up with many more. I will warn in advance: In every case there will be temptations to say, “Yes, but you don’t know my parents.You don’t know who they are or what they did to me.” I understand that in some cases showing honor may be difficult or very nearly impossible, and in our next article we will discuss some hard cases.
But for now, let’s simply consider some practical ways in which we can display honor to our parents.
Perhaps the most important way we can honor our parents is to forgive them. The fact is, there are no perfect parents. All parents have fallen far short of their children’s expectations and, in all lihood, even their own expectations. Our parents have sinned against us.
They have made unwise decisions, they have had unrealistic expectations, they have said and done things that have left us deeply wounded. For that reason, many children enter adulthood controlled by anger and bitterness.
They find themselves unable to move past their parents’ mistakes or their parents’ sin.
We can best honor our parents by forgiving our parents. And this is actually possible, for we serve and imitate a forgiving Savior. In the Bible we see Jesus’s willingness to forgive the ones who had wounded him.
In the very moment the nails were driven into his flesh, he cried out “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Standing at the foot of the cross and considering such a Savior, who are we to withhold forgiveness from our parents? We honor our parents by extending grace and forgiveness to them.
Speak Well of Them
Another way we can honor our parents is to speak well of them, to refuse to speak evil of them. We live at a time when it is considered noble to air our grievances, when it is considered therapeutic to air our dirty laundry.
We think little of telling the world exactly what we think of our governors, our bosses, our parents. Yet the Bible warns us that we owe honor and respect to all of the authorities God has placed over us (Romans 13:7).
It warns us that our words have the power to extend honor or dishonor. We cannot miss that in the Old Testament the penalty for cursing parents is the same as the penalty for assaulting them (Exodus 21:15-17, Leviticus 20:9), for the root sin is the same.To curse parents or to strike parents is to violate the fifth commandment as well as the sixth.
We need to speak well of our parents. We need to speak well of them while they are alive and speak well of them after they have died, to speak well of them to our siblings, to our spouses, to our children.
We need to speak well of them to our churches and communities, modeling a counter-cultural kind of honor and respect that has long since gone missing in too many contexts.
Christian, speak well of your parents and refuse to speak evil of them.
Esteem them Publicly and Privately
A third way to show honor to parents is to give them esteem both privately and publicly. In a powerful sermon on the fifth commandment Tim Keller encourages children to “Respect their [parents’] need to see themselves in you.” Parents long to see how they have impacted their children, how their children are a reflection of their strengths, their values.
“You don’t realize how important it is to give them credit where you can. You don’t realize how critical it is just to say, ‘You know, everything I really ever learned about saving money I learned from you.’ To say, ‘You know, Dad, that was one thing you always taught me that I really, really appreciated’.
” These are simple measures but ones that bring great joy and honor to our parents.
We can give such esteem privately in one-on-one conversation or we can do this publicly, perhaps through speeches or sermons or even conversations around holiday feasts. Dennis Rainey goes so far as to call children to write a formal tribute to their parents, to present it to them and to read it aloud in their presence. We can honor our parents by esteeming our parents.
Seek Their Wisdom
We honor our parents when we seek their wisdom through life’s twists and turns. The Bible constantly associates youth with folly and age with wisdom (Proverbs 20:29, Job 12:12) and tells us that those who have lived longer lives have generally accumulated greater wisdom.
We do well, then, to lean on them for understanding, to seek their input when faced with major decisions. In some cultures this is expected and in some it is eschewed. But either way, it honors our parents when we seek their help, even if in the end we cannot or must not heed it.
We can also honor our parents by supporting them. I am not yet speaking of financial support, but other forms of love and care. I think of David at a particularly low point in his life, weighed down by cares and attacked by enemies.
In this context he cried out to God and said, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Psalm 71:9). David feared the combination of age and isolation, of being old and alone.
So too do our elderly parents.
When we are young we gain strength and long for independence.
Our parents raise us to be strong and free! But there is a trade-off here, a passing of the baton, for as our parents age they become feeble, they begin to lose their independence (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8).
We honor our parents by giving them the assurance that we will not forsake them in their old age. Just as they cared for us, we will care for them. This is our responsibility and it ought to be our joy.
At a time when millions of elderly adults are living alone, consigned to nursing homes and hospitals, cared for by professionals rather than family members, Christians have the opportunity to display special honor.
Kent Hughes says that even if parents have no financial needs, “there is still a Christian obligation for hands-on, loving care. Nurses may be employed, but there must be more—the care cannot be done by proxy.
Emotional neglect and abandonment is not an option, for such conduct ‘is worse than an unbeliever.’”
Provide for Them
Finally, we can honor our parents by providing for them financially. In 1 Timothy 5 we find Paul telling Timothy how to honor widows within the church.
As he provides instruction, he gives two important principles: Children are to make some return to their parents (4) and Christians who will not provide for family members are behaving worse than unbelievers (8). Commentators are nearly unanimous in extending these principles to children and their elderly parents.
What is unremarkable in some cultures is controversial in others, including my own. Stott points out that “African and Asian cultures, which have developed the extended in place of the nuclear family, are a standing rebuke to the West in this matter.”When children are young, God expects parents to provide for them (2 Corinthians 12:14). But, according to Stott, “when parents grow old and feeble, it is then that roles and responsibilities are reversed.
” Hughes says, “Christian sons and daughters are responsible for the [financial] care of widows and, as the text expands it, of their helpless parents and grandparents.” William Barcley says much the same: “The raising of children requires tremendous sacrifice and it is only right that children make sacrifices for parents in return.
” We might also consider Mark 7:9-13 and Jesus’s harsh rebuke of the Pharisees for their refusal to care for their parents.
Perhaps no form of honor more deeply cuts against the Western grain than this one. But it’s clear: The Bible calls Christians to take special responsibility for providing for their family members. This command applies equally to the parents of young children and the children of elderly parents.
God calls every child of every age to show honor to our parents, to refuse to dishonor our parents. He calls us to honor them as the outflow of honoring him. He calls us to be people who respect his sovereignty by respecting the parents he saw fit to give us. In what ways is God calling you to show honor to your parents?
The Commandment We Forgot:
View Entire Series
Parents Prayers for Their Children: 7 Requests to God
In the Bible we read “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3) Children are one of the biggest ministries you will ever have. Our precious little ones are a gift from God and we should be in prayer for them daily. Here are 7 prayers that you can pray for your kids.
You are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I pray that You watch over my children and use me as a vessel to showcase the love of Christ to them. I pray for their salvation, Lord. I pray that You will draw them to You so that they can understand how deep Your love is for them. Give me time every day with them, Father.
Give me time where I can read the Bible with them and pray with them. Lord, I want them to know You I know You. It breaks my heart to know that some kids I see will reject you as they grow older, Lord. Please let it not be so with mine! I pray that they will continue to walk with You as they grow older.
I love You, Father! Amen
I pray for my child today. He/she is struggling with the medications the doctors gave us. Lord, the side effects are almost as bad as the sickness. It hurts to see him/her in agony. Father, You have the power to heal anything by just thinking it.
If it is Your will, please heal my son/daughter. I want nothing more than my child to be happy and running around with their friends in the back yard again. Please, Father, hear my prayer and petition now. I love you, Lord! May Your will be done this day.
Thank you for another day of life with my kids. I pray that You will watch over them as they are in school today. Give them a safe journey to and from school on the bus. I pray that You will keep me safe everywhere I go, as well.
Bring me home safe to my children. I pray that You will empower my kids to stand boldly for You as they encounter sin and depravity in school.
I pray that the joy they have for Jesus will shine bright today! Thank you for my children, Father! I love them and I love You! Amen
“Lord, I pray that they fight against peer-pressure and stay away from drugs.”
My teenagers are in one of the most difficult times in their lives. I pray that they will stand up for what they believe in, Lord. I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them on every decision they make, so that they make good choices.
Lord, I pray that they fight against peer-pressure and stay away from drugs. Lord, I pray that you watch over them and guide them safely today. I pray my kids can learn the value suffering for the sake of Christ. I pray that they make decisions today their faith in You.
Thank you for my kids, Lord! Amen
I pray for the purity of my children. Lord, all of the hormonal changes are good because they are from You. I pray that my kids will stay strong and wait until marriage before enjoying the blessings of the bedroom.
I pray that they abstain from all sexual situations so they stay healthy too. So many diseases are being spread because of bad decisions today. Lord, only You know what they will choose and I pray that they will choose wisely.
I praise You for my kids, Father! Amen
I pray that my children will heed the calling You have set for them. I pray that they will follow where You lead, Father, whether it is in missions, music or the post office.
I pray that they will do everything whole-heartedly for You, so that You can be glorified. I pray that they will find their strength in You daily as they spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to whoever they come in contact with.
Let Your will be done in their future calling, Father. Amen
I pray for the future spouses of my kids. I pray that You will provide my son with a Proverbs 31 woman and I pray that You provide my daughter with a man who is completely devoted to You that will love her and cherish her all of her days.
I pray for Your sovereignty in this, Lord, that my kids can start families of their own someday. I pray for a love for them, Lord, as in the Song of Solomon. I pray that my kids will cleave to their future spouses and look to You for guidance as they journey through marriage together.
You are so good to us all, Father, and I pray for Your blessings on my children. Amen
Should my young child already be reading? | Parenting
Not long ago, I woke up at 3 a.m. in a panic: Should my 4-year-old be reading by now? She loves it when we read to her and recognizes a few simple words, but isn’t reading on her own yet. Should we be teaching her to read? Had I “missed the memo” that explains how?
This anxiety reared its head just when I had started to relax, thinking we had escaped the toddler years relatively unscathed. I can’t remember the last time my daughter had a full-blown tantrum.
She’s finally easing the nails-on-chalkboard “baby voice” phase. And these days we can actually leave the house in under five minutes when we have to — shoes (and underwear) on, hair mostly brushed.
In the middle of that dark night, however, I was certain my husband and I had failed at one of the crucial tests of parenting: our daughter doesn’t yet know how to read.
The very first thing the next morning, I ordered, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t neglected a key parenting responsibility. But when I received the book a few days later, I was struck by how un-easy these 100 (100!) lessons seemed. It now sits gathering dust on a shelf in my bedroom.
The drumbeat to push even the youngest kids to read and attain other academic milestones has grown steadily louder over the past decade or so. And when you’re the parent of one of those kids, it’s hard not to pay attention.
Who doesn’t occasionally wonder if their play-based preschool is really prepping their child for kindergarten reading? Who doesn’t want their own child to be as smart as a friend’s precocious three-year-old who can already read Green Eggs and Ham? Who doesn’t dream of their child getting a full ride to Harvard or Stanford?
Parental anxiety over early reading
A few of the findings parents encounter on the journey to kindergarten help fuel concerns about young children and reading. Consider these:
•the quality of a child’s language environment at age three is a strong predictor of tenth-grade reading achievement •a child’s vocabulary at 4 is predictive of third grade reading comprehension
•and scariest of all: a child who doesn’t read proficiently by third grade is four times more ly to leave school without a diploma than a proficient reader, according to research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Parental worries (and pre-dawn anxiety attacks) have fueled a thriving market of early reading programs, books, and other products. In Manhattan, parents are shelling out big bucks for prep programs to cinch sought-after spots in gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.
For the more budget-conscious, the Your Baby Can Read! DVDs and flash cards let parents do the training themselves for a fraction of the cost — that is, until the company went business in July, 2012, after its tactics were challenged in a “Today Show” investigation, a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, and numerous class action suits.The problem, researchers say, is that no one knows if pushing your young child to read makes any difference. “There’s no evidence that teaching children to read early is a good thing,” says Dr. Susan B.
Neuman, a professor of education at the University of Michigan who specializes in early literacy development.
“There’s no evidence that says it’s a bad thing either, but there’s just no evidence at all, so parents might be wasting a good deal of their own — and their children’s — time, when they could be doing other things that really do promote early literacy.”
Still, with the national focus on reading brought about by No Child Left Behind and the implementation of Common Core standards in the classroom — not to mention fierce competition for enrollment at top schools and universities — many parents feel increasing pressure to get their kids reading as soon as possible to ensure their academic success.
“We see an awful lot of parents who are trying to teach their children how to read very early on, in infancy as a matter of fact,” Neuman says. “We think that some of this early push might be more focused on the parents’ needs than the kids’ needs.”
“I find the phenomenon shocking,” says Dr. Shannon Ayers, assistant research professor at Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). “But I don’t blame the parents. Every parent wants what’s best for his or her child.
But they’re hearing about this so-called ‘window of opportunity’ before age 5, and they get scared.
The bottom line is: yes, there are critical skills your young child needs before they enter school, but these skills are ones that they can learn through play and through their life experiences, not flash cards.”
What young children need to read
In fact, the evidence has shown time and again that very young children learn far more through play than they do in a “strict” academic environment, according to Alison Gopnik, a researcher at UC Berkeley and author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life. Pretend play teaches children how to understand themselves and their world, leads to better adjustment in school, and helps turn them into what she calls “flexible and sophisticated thinkers.”
Joan Kelley, a language and literacy researcher at Harvard University, thinks part of the problem is that parents don’t really know what it takes to learn to read, so they’re willing to spend a lot of money on products that promise concrete solutions. “While children do need to know about letters and sounds, that’s just one piece of a very complicated puzzle when it comes to how kids learn to read,” she says.
Kelley says the most important thing parents can do is to create a rich language environment at home. This means working to balance the instructive talk we do with our kids all day (“Brush your teeth,” “Feed the dog”) with what Kelley calls “elaborative” language.She uses the example of pushing a 1-year-old in a stroller and seeing a “Lost Cat” sign on a telephone pole. You could walk right past it, or you could elaborate on the sign by saying something , “Oh, no, someone lost their cat! Look, the sign says his name is Fluffy. Nana has a cat named Muffy.
Fluffy-Muffy, Fluffy-Muffy, hey that rhymes! Remember in the Curious George book when the cat ran up the tree? Do you think Fluffy might be hiding in a tree? Let’s take a look.”
“Elaborative language makes connections in the brain — you can almost see the neurons snapping,” Kelley explains. “Every time I see a parent talking on their cell phone while pushing the stroller, I cringe, thinking about all the opportunities for building language that are being lost.”
Education professor Susan Neuman agrees that supporting your young child’s learning doesn’t require special preparation or expensive products — it just means showing up.
“Parents can support early literacy just by taking advantage of all the regular routines of their day — going to the grocery store, going to the bank, following a recipe,” says Neuman.
“All of these activities get children used to seeing print in functional settings and help with reading.”
When to worry about reading…when not to
There are some children for whom reading comes very easily and there are children at the other end of the spectrum who struggle a lot. But Ayers says that kids in the middle of the bell curve — the vast majority — should learn to read at a normal progression with appropriate stimulus and support.
In general, boys start reading later than girls do — boys tend to be later in showing interest and later in getting started — but they generally catch up right away once they start, according to Neuman. She recommends tailoring reading time to a boy’s gross motor energy — keep it short, sweet, and relevant.
Typically, most children will start reading in the first grade.
If, by the beginning of second grade, your child hasn’t shown an interest in reading or a teacher has raised concerns about your child’s reading progress, Ayers says you shouldn’t panic, but you should take decisive action.
“Once you’re aware of an issue, you just have to start intervening,” she says. “Ramp up their reading environment both at school and at home and support them however you can.” Consider consulting a reading specialist if the problem persists.
But chances are, you’ve been doing the right things all along. “The number- one thing you can do is talk to your kids and read to your kids from the earliest of ages,” Kelley says.
Ways to support early literacy at home
•Visit the library every week and befriend the children’s librarian to get good, age-appropriate book recommendations. “Having new books every week breeds excitement about reading,” says Kelley. “Get all kinds of books: ones have repetitive language, books that challenge them a bit, nursery rhymes.” •Encourage your child to write.
“Give her a pen and paper when you’re playing restaurant so she can take your order,” says Ayers. “It’s amazing to see the progression from scribbles to actual letters over time.” •Show your child nonfiction books as well as story books. “Some young children, especially boys, are drawn to information books instead of stories,” says Neuman.
•Stick with real books instead of electronic ones. Ayers quotes research showing that with electronic storybooks, parents talked about the book only 59 percent of the time (the rest of the time was spent saying, “push this button,” etc.), whereas with a traditional book, 92 percent of the parents’ time was spent talking about the story.
•Expose your kids to big ideas. “Instead of the usual ‘How was your day?’ conversation, talk to them about something you read that was interesting,” says Kelley. “It stretches and excites your kids and helps them prepare to enter the world of reading with more understanding.”
A Back to School Prayer for our Kids
Sometimes I get frustrated that the Bible gives us such little explicit instruction on the task of raising children.
Honestly, there are few things that matter more than raising up the next generation to love the Lord. I have been a little weepy at the thought of my firstborn starting first grade this week.
His love for life and zeal for God is amazing (and encourages me daily), but there is still so much I feel we need to teach him.
As I was pondering all of this over the weekend, I began thinking about Jesus and how Mary must have felt when he was growing up.
Obviously Jesus was the perfect Son of God and would never sin even in his youth…but I find comfort in knowing that even so, Mary and Joseph probably discussed the best ways to bring him up just my husband and I do about our very imperfect children.The Bible tell us so little about Jesus’s childhood. But there is one tiny verse that encompasses the monumental years of his youth that I have been dwelling on:
As school begins once again, this is the verse I am praying for my children, specifically for my oldest. It includes three of the most important aspects of a child’s life: mind, body, and spirit. Each of these aspects come with their own strengths and weaknesses, with obstacles and challenges to overcome in every facet of life.
Lord, I pray that you will allow Caleb to grow in wisdom this year. I pray that he will learn everything he is expected to know academically. I pray that he will be successful in his studies and that he will be a diligent worker in what is asked of him. Most of all, Lord, I pray that you would allow Him to grow in YOUR wisdom.
Help him to learn more about your character through his interactions with others. Help the scriptures and stories we have been sharing with him from your Word to be a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Give us, his parents, the wisdom to help him discern between right and wrong in the situations he is faced with this year.
Above all else, help him learn to love You more.
Lord, I thank you for the lives of our children. I thank you that they are healthy. I pray that you will protect their bodies and help them to continue to grow strong. Protect them from illness and harm, Lord.
As school begins, I pray that Caleb will know that he is created in your image. I pray that he will know that is “fearfully and wonderfully made”.
I pray that he will know that You created him exactly the way that you want him to be. At times, words from others can be cruel.
Protect his heart and help him to rest in the truth that he is a priceless gift to us and, most importantly, to You…so much so that you sent your son for him.
In Favor with God and Man
Lord, I pray that you would allow Caleb to be a light for you. I pray that he would be obedient to his teachers and kind to his classmates. I pray that he will show kindness and compassion to everyone, but especially those who are treated poorly by others. Give him the strength to stand up for the outcasts.
I pray that he will have integrity to do the right thing even when no one is looking. Help him to surround himself with people who will help him grow closer to you. I pray that he will be both a leader and a follower– a follower of yours but a leader for his peers. Help his words and actions to be pleasing to you.
All this I ask in the name of your son Jesus. Amen.
No matter whether your child will be attending public school, private school, or will be homeschooled, I think this prayer is all-encompassing for what we desire for our kids.And I fully realize I am asking God for a lot…I certainly don’t expect my children to be perfect. In fact, I need to pray much of this same prayer for myself.
But this is what I most desire for the lives of my children.
When we place the well being of our children in God’s very capable hands through prayer, we are surrendering control to Him. I’m not sure there is anything else as equally scary, freeing, and comforting as this. All I know is that He is certainly more capable than I am!
PS- I thought I would create a printable scripture card for those of us who wish to consistently pray this prayer for our kids throughout the year. Stick it on your bathroom mirror or in the visor on your car…any place that you will see it regularly. There are 4 identical cards on a page…you can print one for yourself and give the others to friends/neighbors if you would .
Click on the image below to access the printable file:
Is your child heading off to school soon? What else would you add to this prayer?