Are our prayers for our grandchildren too small?
Don’t most of us focus the bulk of our requests on our grandchildren’s health and happiness? You know, “And Lord, please give my grandchild a good day and keep her safe.” There’s nothing necessarily wrong with asking God to make our grandchildren healthy and happy, but surely there is more to praying for our grandchildren than that. If we limit most of our prayers for our grandchildren to their health and happiness, we might be asking for too little. The Bible shows us that God’s priorities for our prayers go beyond the physical and emotional safety of our grandchildren.
When we read our Bibles, what can we learn about our priorities in praying for our grandchildren? What if we started with that line from Psalm 78:7 that says, “So that they [the next generation] should set their hope in God?” Isn’t that one of God’s primary objectives for us in our grandparenting, that we would have such an impact on the coming generations that they would set their hope in God? Well then, let’s make that one of our regular, passionate prayer requests. “Lord, please work in my grandchild’s heart so that he would not put his hope in his own abilities or achievements or in the deceptive, empty promises of this fallen world, but let him set his hope in You!”
It is important also that we give priority to asking the Lord to give our grandchildren new hearts, that we devote ourselves to praying for their salvation. Over 300 years ago, the English Puritan pastor Matthew Henry wrote, “When a child is born, there is a candle lighted that must burn to eternity, either in heaven or hell; the consideration whereof should awaken us to pray with all possible earnestness for the salvation of their souls, next to our own.”[i] A sobering reminder, isn’t it? Let’s devote ourselves “to pray with all possible earnestness for the salvation of their souls,” trusting entirely in the merit of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
“When a child is born,
there is a candle lighted that must burn to eternity,
either in heaven or hell;
the consideration whereof should awaken us to pray
with all possible earnestness
for the salvation of their souls, next to our own.”
In addition to praying for their salvation, what are some other biblical priorities that should guide our prayers for our grandchildren? Many of the psalms are written prayers – prayers of rejoicing, prayers of desperate need, and prayers of lament. As you read through the psalms, could you turn what you are reading into a praise or prayer for your grandchildren? And, what about the Apostle Paul’s reports of how he prayed for the people he cared for?
Paul writes, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
And, that’s just one of his recorded prayers! Also worthy of thoughtful consideration are the prayers found in Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-14, Ephesians 1:15-23 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
Here are some ways to pray for our grandchildren that my wife and I adapted from Christian Grandparenting Network’s National Prayer Co-director, Lillian Penner,[ii] as well as from Ginger Hubbard’s book Don’t Make Me Count to Three. Each prayer request has supporting Scriptural references:
- Pray that they would honor and obey their parents as well as those in authority over them (Ephesians 6:1-3; Hebrews 13:17).
- Pray that they would have a life-long love for God’s word (Psalm 1:2; 119:97, 165).
- Pray that the Lord would surround them with godly friends and role models (1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20; Proverbs 27:17).
- Pray that they would learn to humbly accept advice and gain understanding (Proverbs 15:31-32).
- Pray that the Lord would plant in their hearts a hunger and thirst for him (Psalm 42:1-2).
- Pray that the Lord would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they might know him better (Ephesians 1:17).
- Pray that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened in order that they might know the hope to which he has called them (Ephesians 1:18).
- Pray that they would always follow the truth and reject the lies of Satan (Proverbs 22:3; Titus 2:11-12).
- Pray that they would bear much fruit for God’s glory (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 2:10; 1 John 3:16-18).
- Pray that they would flee temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Timothy 2:22-26).
- Pray that they would lean on God’s grace in saying “no” to ungodliness and “yes” to godly living (Titus 2:11-13)
- Pray that they would be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19)
- Pray that they would use their gifts and talents to honor the Lord (Proverbs 16:3; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
- Pray that they would have freedom from fear as they trust in the Lord (Psalm 56:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:7; I Peter 5:7).
- Pray that they would learn to be content with what they have (Philippians 4:12).
- Pray that they would acknowledge God, depending on his direction in life (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Pray that the Lord would help them reflect the attitude of Christ in considering others better than themselves (Philippians 2:1-5).
- Pray that they would learn to do their best for the glory of God (Colossians 3:23).
- Pray that they would keep themselves sexually pure for their future mates (1 Corinthians 10:8; Hebrews 13:4).
- Pray that the Lord would bring godly mates into their lives (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
- Pray that they would take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8).
- Pray that they would become more like him (Romans 8:28-29).
In addition to weaving biblical priorities into our prayers for our grandchildren, there will also be those personal, particular concerns that come along in life. One way to be intentional about loving our grandkids is to make a habit of asking our adult children how we can be praying for their children. As issues arise in our grandkids’ lives, keeping open lines of communication can encourage their parents while helping us keep alive our active ministry of prayer.
We can also ask our grandchildren directly how we can be praying for them. Maybe they are struggling with getting along with a classmate or sibling or feeling anxiety about school? When we hear those concerns, we can assure them that we are hearing them and can make a point of praying and keeping in touch regarding what is going on with them.
Let’s not limit our prayers for our grandchildren to matters of “health and happiness.” Let’s lift our eyes higher. Let’s build into our prayer time for our grandchildren BIG prayers – prayers for matters of eternity. Amen? Amen!
[i] “Christ’s Favor to Children,” in The Miscellaneous Writings of Matthew Henry. London: Watts, 1811,) pag