A Prayer for Parenting and Re-parenting by Grace
by Scotty Smith
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 peace-generating joy and a heart-liberating privilege to address you 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 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 grit to parenting by grace 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 my “good parenting” I can take credit for what you alone have graciously done in the lives of my children. Oh, the paralyzing unbelief of assuming that by my “bad parenting” I’ve forever limited 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. Help us to appreciate and celebrate the uniqueness of our children. Should you give them a personality and passion, gifts and callings other than what we would choose for them, give us grace to enjoy, rather than just endure who they are. More than anything else, show us how to parent and grandparent in a way that most powerfully reveals the unsearchable riches of Jesus in the gospel.
Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Restore the years eaten away by the locusts of both co-dependent parenting and non-engaged parenting. Write wonderful stories of redemption and restoration. Convict us quickly and surely when we don’t relate to your covenant children “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14 NIV). So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ powerful and faithful name.