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Don’t Waste the Crust

I’ve never been one of those mothers who carefully pared the crust off the PBJ’s I served my children for lunch.

For well over 20 years now, I’ve been coaxing my kids to eat the crusts of their sandwiches using the following rationale:

  1. It’s wasteful to leave them.

    -and-

  2. That’s where most of the vitamins are.

And for well over 20 years, my children have accepted my mother-wisdom at face value and at least feigned an attempt to cooperate with this imperative.

But not too long ago, a couple of my (young adult) children decided to question the validity of this claim.

The crust is where the vitamins are? they repeated skeptically. “Seriously, Mom, that may be true of apple skins, but bread is bread. The entire loaf comes from a single batch of dough. The nutritional value is no different in the crust than it is in the middle.”

They’re smart kids. They’re also very articulate.

If you’d been sitting at our table that day, you might even have been inclined to agree with them….

But if you did, you would’ve been wrong, as they were. Fortunately, Siri was on my side for the ensuing debate.

I knew I’d read some relevant statistics on bread crust before, so I whipped out my trusty iPhone and within seconds had located this article which summarily proved my point: Cancer-fighting anti-oxidants are eight times more plentiful in the crust than in any other part of the bread.

Don't Waste the Crusts - lovinglifeathome.comSo what if bread crust is tough and chewy or hard to swallow? It’s good for you. It’s rich in dietary fiber and in nutrients that help your body grow healthy and strong.

That’s the reason I keep serving it to my children, and it’s the reason they (mostly) keep eating it.

Unfortunately, we sometimes approach life the way kids approach sandwiches. We prefer the soft and cushy parts. If we could leave those tough parts untouched on our plate — or if we could talk our Heavenly Father into trimming off anything that seems difficult to swallow — we’d do it.

I’m as guilty of this mindset as anyone. I’ve always prayed that God would teach me the lessons I need to learn in the easiest, most gentle way possible.

I’ve secretly hoped that if I stay attuned to His still small voice, God won’t have to shout through the megaphone of pain to get my attention.

"Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." - C.S. Lewis

But guess what? The tough trials, the hard challenges, the parts of life that make us lose our appetite — often those are the very things God uses to mature us, to strengthen our faith, and to nourish our relationship with Him.

And trials come no matter how intently we listen for His voice or read our Bibles or follow His promptings. We can avoid suffering unnecessarily by walking close with Him, but we can’t avoid suffering altogether.

Jesus told his followers, “In the world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) – it’s not a question of if, but when, and how will we react when it comes?

Scripture tells us plainly how God expects us to respond. We are to:

  • “Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

    -and-

  • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Perfect. Complete. Lacking in nothing.

That’s God’s goal for us.

So next time you find yourself in a tough season of life, don’t let it go to waste. Trust that your Heavenly Father has a purpose in putting that difficulty on your plate and accept it with gratitude, knowing there are things you can get out of the hard parts of life that cannot be found in any other way.

Just dip it in the pure milk of the Word to make it easier to swallow. (1 Peter 2:2)

"Consider it joy..."

Praying for Your Unborn Child

A friend of mine once told me that, all through one of her pregnancies, she prayed God would give her a beautiful little girl with blue eyes and dark hair.

God granted that request, but the little girl was also quite stubborn. She was so headstrong, in fact, that by the time she was two years old, my friend was wishing she’d spent more of her pregnancy praying for her daughter’s character than for her physical features!

Of course, I don’t think praying for a baby is like ordering off a menu, but I do know that God delights in giving us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4-5) — especially when those desires are in line with His own.

While it never occurred to me or my husband to pray for a child’s hair or eye color, or even for a particular sex, we certainly sent up many other heartfelt petitions for our children, beginning from the first moment we learned we were expecting, if not before.

Here are the things for which we most fervently prayed:

Prayer for an Unborn Child

C is for Conscience

Pray that God would give your child a tender conscience and would draw her to faith at an early age. Pray that she would be anointed by the Holy Spirit even in the womb and would know and love the Holy Scriptures from infancy. (1 Timothy 1:5; Luke 18:16-17; Luke 1:14-15; 2 Timothy 3:15)

H is for Health

Pray that, if would please Him, God would give your child good health and a strong body. Recognize that is is He who knits your baby together in her mother’s womb, and ask Him to watch carefully over every stage of her development. (3 John 1:2; Isaiah 40:29; Psalm 139:13-16)

I is for Intellect

Ask God to give your child understanding, so she might learn His commands. Pray that He’d bless her with a sound mind and would grant her wisdom and discernment. Pray that she would love the truth and not be swayed by false teaching. (Psalm 119:73; James 1:5; Proverbs 2:2-11; Ephesians 4:14)

L is for Love

Pray that your child would feel secure both in God’s love and in her parents’ love. Pray that she would learn to put others first. Pray that she would love the LORD with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength, and would love others as herself. (Romans 8:38-39; 1 John 4:19; Mark 12:30-31; Philippians 2:2-4)

D is for Disposition

Ask God to give your child a happy, cheerful disposition. Pray that He would fill her heart with joy and gratitude. Pray that she would bring hope and encouragement to everyone she meets. (Proverbs 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 6:7; Romans 15:13; Proverbs 12:25; Hebrews 10:23-25)


“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

Do you (did you) pray for your babies before they were born? On what things were you most likely to focus your requests?

Parents should never underestimate the power of prayer. Even if you’ve not prayed consistently in the past, you can start now. Here are a couple of our other free printable guides to help you do that:

Praying for Your Children from Head to Toe
Praying for Your Teenager

We invite you to check out our printables page for even more!

Pray for Your Teen!

I received a request from a reader this week for a printable prayer guide for teens. Here’s what she wrote:

Thank you so much for your head-to-toe prayers! I’ve been using your husband one to pray for my husband for a few months and it’s been powerful! I like the one for children, also, which I just found today. I’d love it if you made one specifically geared toward teenaged children. I currently have five in that age range and never has there been a time in their lives when they need more prayer.

She’s right, of course.

Our children need prayer at every age and stage of life. They need Mom and Dad to faithfully and fervently bring them to the throne of Grace and intercede on their behalf. This is especially true during their teen years, as they navigate the sometimes tortuous path from carefree childhood to responsible adulthood.

And as we are praying for our teens, we must also remember to pray for ourselves — that God would grant us wisdom to face what challenges lie ahead, that He would give us patience to meet those challenges with understanding and grace, and that He would comfort us with the knowledge that He loves our children even more than we do and will be faithful to complete the good work He’s begun in them. (Philippians 1:6)

- A Prayer Guide for Your Teens -

T is for Trust

Ask God not only to bring your children to saving faith, but also to mature them in that faith. Pray that they would trust the LORD with all their hearts and not lean on their own understanding. Pray that you, as a parent, would maintain their trust, so that they will always feel comfortable confiding in you or coming to you for counsel. Pray that your teens would prove themselves worthy of the trust others place in them. (Ephesians 2:8; James 1:4; Proverbs 3:5; Proverbs 5:1; Proverbs 25:13)

E is for Education

Pray that the LORD would place within your children’s hearts a lifelong thirst for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Pray that your teens would learn to number their days and use their time wisely. Ask God to give them an eternal focus, so they will prioritize those things that He says are important. And ask that He’d provide clear direction as they make decisions regarding college and career paths. (Prov. 23:23; Psalm 90:12; Micah 6:8; James 1:5; Proverbs 2:3-11)

E is for Emotions

Ask God for an extra measure of sympathy and discernment as you parent your child through puberty and beyond. Pray that He would keep the lines of communication open as you discuss with them the fact that hormones not only affect the way their bodies grow, but the way they think, as well. Ask Him to help your teens navigate those changes wisely, while nurturing the fruit of the Spirit, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and (especially) self-control. Pray that they would not be ruled by their feelings, but would take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (1 Peter 3:8; Ephesians 4:29; Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 4:20-27; Galatians 5:22-23; Jeremiah 17:9-10; 2 Corinthians 10:5)

N is for Name

Pray that your teens would live and walk with integrity and that God would reward them with a good name. Pray that they’d do nothing to tarnish their reputation, but would serve as salt and light in their community, that the love of Christ would shine through them to a lost and dying world. Ask God to help them choose their friends and confidants wisely. Pray that no one should look down on their youthfulness, but that in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, they would show themselves an example of those who believe. (Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 20:7; Proverbs 3:3-4; Matthew 5:13-14; Proverbs 13:20; Proverbs 27:17; 1 Timothy 4:12)

S is for Spouse

Pray that God would give your teens a clear vision of all that marriage is meant to be. Ask Him to grant them patience as they wait on His choice and timing, temperance to meanwhile maintain their purity (both in thought and deed), and a spirit of discernment as they evaluate potential mates. Pray that God would help them become the kind of person they want to marry, that they might be equally yoked in every way. (Mark 10:6-9; Psalm 33:22; 1 John 3:3; Romans 6:12-14; Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 31:10-31; 2 Corinthians 6:14)


These are the things my husband and I pray for our teens. Can you think of anything we’ve left off the list? Maybe “S for Safety” — especially as they start to drive? You may just have to flip the page over and continue the list of specifics on the back!

You can download all our other prayer guides here: Free Printables.

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.” (Psalm 145:18-19)

Parents Need Prayer, Too

Your Parents Need Prayer | another free printable prayer guide from Loving Life at Home

[Click image to print a black & white version of this guide]

One of my readers recently wrote me to say that she allows her daughter to read many of my posts, including the Praying for Your Children from Head to Toe guide I published last week.

The daughter wanted to know whether there was a similar guide that kids could use to pray for their parents.

Doesn’t that just melt your heart?

And so, I set about compiling this short list of verses that children can pray over their parents. Your Parents Need Prayer — at all ages and stages of life!

Please feel free to print out a copy and use it during in your own personal prayer time.

The guide is divided into seven broad topics; you can pray through the whole thing at once, or pray for a different area each day of the week.

  • P is for Perspective

    Pray that they would keep an eternal focus and would prioritize those things that God says are important. Ask God to give them wisdom and discernment in their dealings with you and with one another. (Psalm 90:12; Micah 6:8; James 1:5)

  • A is for Attitude

    Ask God to give your parents a positive, cheerful outlook. Pray that the fruit of His Spirit would be evident in their lives, and that they would “do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit,” but would instead model the “attitude that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Proverbs 17:22; Galatians 5:22-23;Philippians 2:3-5)

  • R is for Relationships

    Pray that God would bless and strengthen your parents’ relationship to Him, to one another, and to their children and grandchildren. Pray that their marriage would be characterized by an abiding, self-sacrificing love and a deep, heartfelt respect for one another. (Isaiah 41:10; Ephesians 5:33; Ephesians 6:1-4)

  • E is for Energy

    Parenting is hard work! Pray that God would refresh and rejuvenate your mom and dad. Ask him to renew their strength and replenish their energy. Pray that they would not grow weary in well-doing, but would persevere to the end and finish strong. (Isaiah 40:28-31; Galatians 6:9-10; 2 Thessalonians 3:13)

  • N is for Needs

    Ask God to provide for all your parents’ needs “according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Pray that He would bless them abundantly, beyond all they ask or think, and that they would serve as an open channel of blessings to others. (Philippians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 3:20-21; Luke 6:38)

  • T is for Testimony

    Pray that your parents would live their lives with integrity and that God would reward them with a good name among those who know them. Pray that they would be salt and light in their community, and that the love of Christ would shine through them to a lost and dying world. (Proverbs 20:7; Proverbs 3:3-4; Matthew 5:13-14)

  • S is for Security

    Pray that your parents would recognize God as the source of their security. Ask Him to do a work in their hearts, conforming them to the image of Christ and making sure their salvation. Pray that they would earnestly seek after wisdom and would walk in their way securely. (Psalm 121; Romans 12:2; Proverbs 3:23)

Admittedly, this guide is better suited to older children who’ve already learned to read. But kids who are too little to use this list are NOT too little to pray!

If you want to encourage very young children to pray for others, I would suggest you make a little photo album, with a picture of the individual person being prayed for (parents, grandparents, siblings, friends) on each page. Your child can then use this as a reminder of whom to pray for each day.

We did this with our older children when they were little, and they loved it. If you like, you can include a short list of simple, specific requests under each picture. If you laminate the pages, you can even use a wet erase marker to change up the requests as each prayer is answered.

Pray for Your Children from Head to Toe

After I published my popular “Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe” printable, several readers requested a similar prayer guide for wives. I made one, and my husband published it on his blog last year. Recently a reader suggested I do a “Praying for Your Children from Head to Toe” guide, which I agreed was an excellent idea. So here it is. May you and your children both be blessed!

Pray for Your Children from Head to Toe | free printable from Loving Life at Home

[Click image to print a black & white copy of this guide.]

Pray for Their Mind:

Pray that your children would earnestly seek wisdom and understanding; that they would value knowledge and discernment; and that their thoughts would stay centered on the truth of God’s Word. (Proverbs 2:1-6; Proverbs 3:21; James 1:5; Psalm 119:97)

Pray for Their Eyes:

Ask God to guard your children’s eyes and protect their innocence. Pray that they would focus their attention on doing what is right. (Romans 16:19; Proverbs 4:25)

Pray for Their Ears:

Pray that your children would be quick to hear and that they would incline their ears to listen to instruction. (James 1:19; Isaiah 55:3; Proverbs 8:32-34)

Pray for Their Mouth:

Ask God to keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking lies. Pray that all their words would be pleasing to Him and edifying to others. (Psalm 34:13; Psalm 19:14)

Pray for Their Heart:

Ask God to give your children a happy, cheerful heart. Pray that they’d come to faith early and would trust easily and completely in Him. (Proverbs 15:13; Psalm 28:7)

Pray for Their Hands:

Pray that they would be diligent in their work and that their hands would not be idle, but that God would bless, confirm, and establish the work of their hands. (Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Proverbs 10:4-5)

Pray for Their Legs:

Pray that your children would not walk in step with the wicked nor stand in the way of sinners, but that they’d find wise and godly companions along life’s journey. (Psalm 1:1; Proverbs 13:20)

Pray for Their Feet:

Ask God to direct their steps, to help them stand fast, and to protect them from stumbling. (Psalm 17:5; Psalm 37:23-24; Psalm 121:3; Psalm 119:133)


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Pray for Your Husband from Head to Toe

Pray for Your Husband from Head to Toe | free printable from Loving Life at HomeRuth Bell Graham advises wives to “tell your mate the positive, and tell God the negative.” Take your concerns to God. Faithfully lift up your husband in prayer every day, and you will likely notice a transformation not only in him, but in yourself, as well.

Of course, we needn’t wait until there is some problem or disagreement before beginning this practice. A wife can and should routinely intercede on her husband’s behalf. Prayer should be a habit of life, something we do continuously and “without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

There are many different daily, weekly or monthly plans available that can help make praying for your husband more systematic, but one of my favorites is praying for your spouse from head to toe. I heard about this concept several years ago. What follows is my own take on it, plus a free printable version you can use in your personal prayer time.

  • Pray for His Brain:
  • Ask that God would keep it sharp and focused and that his thoughts would not be conformed to this world, but would be transformed and renewed by the power of God. (Romans 12:2)

  • Pray for His Eyes:
  • Ask that he would guard them diligently and would set no worthless thing before them. (Psalm 101:3)

  • Pray for His Ears:
  • Ask that they’d be tuned to hear God’s still, small voice and that your husband would always remain attentive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Isaiah 30:9)

  • Pray for His Mouth:
  • Ask that no unwholesome talk would proceed from it, but only what is good for building others up. Pray that your husband would always and only speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15, 29)

  • Pray for His Heart:
  • Ask that Christ would sit enthroned upon it, that your husband would love God with all his heart and soul and might, that he’d love his neighbor as himself. (Mark 12:30-31) Pray for his heart to remain soft toward you (Proverbs 5:18-19) and to be knitted to the hearts of his children. (Malachi 4:6)

  • Pray for His Arms:
  • Ask that God would strengthen them and make them firm. Pray that your husband would take delight in his labor and that God would bless the work of his hands. (Psalm 90:17, Ecclesiastes 3:22)

  • Pray for His Legs:
  • Ask that God would give him strength and stamina, that your husband might run with endurance the race that is set before him, without growing weary or fainting along the way (Isaiah 40:31; Hebrews 12:1)

  • Pray for His Feet:
  • Ask that they’d be quick to flee from temptation, to turn away from evil, and to faithfully pursue wisdom, righteousness, peace, love, and truth. (2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 34:14; Proverbs 4:5-7)

So that’s the whole plan. It takes only a few minutes to cover your husband in prayer from head to toe. Can you imagine the benefits you both will reap if you’ll make it a habit to pray this way for your spouse every day?


This post is excerpted from my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband. For more marriage encouragement, connect with me on Facebook.

If your husband would like a matching guide to use when praying for you, tell him to check out the one my husband posted on his blog: Praying for Your Wife from Head to Toe. And if either of you would like a similar guide to pray over your children, check out this post: Praying for You Children from Head to Toe.


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Our Starting Point

Prayer Works | Loving Life at Home“Prayer works. Prayer is work. Prayer leads to work.” This is a quote I copied, without attribution, into the back of my Bible some thirty-plus years ago.

I know that the operative word here is prayer, but I sometimes act as if the most important word were work.

Have you ever been guilty of that?

When your list of pressing chores is especially long, are you inclined to spend more time on your knees — or less? Do you view prayer as leisurely pastime or a life-preserving necessity?

James 5:16 tells us, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Prayer should be so much more than a brief benediction we utter before setting our shoulder to the wheel.

Prayer works. Prayer itself is work. And prayer has the power to make all the work that follows more focused and productive.

Martin Luther understood this fact, which is why he once wrote, “I have so much to do today, I must spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Whether intuitively or experientially, Luther knew that the longer his “to do” list, the more desperately he needed the wisdom, blessing, and empowering of God.

Shouldn’t prayer be our starting point, as well?