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)

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.

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?

Our Daily Lifeline

"If you only pray when you're in trouble, you're in trouble." | Loving Life at HomeAs fitting and appropriate as it is to call upon God from the foxhole, prayer should really be our first and natural response in all of life’s circumstances.

  • When awed by His works, we should praise Him.
  • When struck by His greatness, we should worship Him.
  • When encumbered by doubts, we should trust in Him.
  • When ensnared by sin, we should confess to Him.
  • When weary and careworn, we should lean on Him.
  • When wisdom is needed, we should ask of Him.
  • When brimming with joy, we should sing to Him.
  • When weighed down with grief, we should cling to Him.
  • When honored, we should magnify Him.
  • When humbled, we should hide in Him.
  • When burdened for the lost — as we all need to be — we should plead for His unfailing mercy.
  • When blessed beyond measure — as each of us are — we should thank Him for His unmerited grace.

An attitude of constant prayer is a distinguishing mark of the mature Christian, which is why we are commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). I don’t know who said it, but it is definitely true: “If you only pray when you’re in trouble, you’re in trouble.”

In My Thoughts and Prayers

MemoriesMemories are curious things. A person or event from our distant past can lie dormant and forgotten in the deepest recesses of our brains for literally years at a time, only to be stirred to life in a split-second by a glimpse or sound or smell of something that calls that memory to mind.

When the face of a friend or acquaintance whom I’ve not seen for decades springs suddenly and unbidden to mind, I cannot help but wonder why. Rosalind Goforth, the wife of a Canadian missionary to China, put forth one explanation in the following poem, which I love and long-ago learned by heart:

I cannot tell why there should come to me
A thought of someone miles and years away,
In swift instance on the memory,
Unless there is a need that I should pray.

Perhaps just then my friend has fiercer fight,
A more appalling weakness, a decay
Of courage, darkness, some lost sense of right;
And so, in case he needs my prayers, I pray.

This is something I strive to practice in my own life. When such a memory is triggered, I take it as a signal to pray. Most of the time, this just entails my asking God to pour out His blessings and strength and grace upon my friend, then going on about my daily business with nary a second thought. But on a few occasions, I’ve been privileged and amazed to later learn how urgently those prayers were needed and appreciated at the very moment they were offered.

I find this very comforting. Because I know that the God who impresses me to pray for others just when they need it most will likewise prompt others to intercede for me in my time of need (which, incidentally, is 24/7 and is also the reason God gave me a praying mother — but that's another post for another day).

When others are in our thoughts, shouldn't they be in our prayers, as well?

A Good Reminder

Pray Hardest When It Is Hardest to Pray | Loving Life at HomePray hardest when it’s hardest to pray? I don’t think this means we should pray hardest when we’re in the most trouble.

Most of us find it pretty easy to pray when we need God to get us out of a tight spot.

For me, this quote means that I need to pray hardest when I’m . . .

. . . exhausted
. . . excited
. . . angry
. . . anxious
. . . annoyed
. . . busy
. . . behind
. . . distracted.

When is it hardest for you to pray? Let’s work harder at remembering at that moment to pray for God’s strength, comfort, wisdom, and grace.

Pray without Ceasing

I’ve been meditating on 1 Thess. 5:17 lately: “Pray without ceasing.” Try as I might to maintain a continual attitude of prayer, I get distracted by the million other things that vie for my attention. Consequently, I often lose sight of that goal.

Yet my days are sprinkled with enough mindless tasks that it’s easy to pick up the conversation with God wherever I left off, provided I make a point to do so. Some of my favorite multi-tasking opportunities include praying while:

  • folding laundry
  • climbing stairs
  • washing dishes
  • nursing babies
  • riding bikes
  • taking showers
  • falling asleep

When and where do you squeeze in extra prayer time? Please share. I’m eager to add to my list!

Be Careful What You Pray For – Part 2

Be Careful What You Pray For - Part 2I love the scene in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE where the Beavers are forced to flee from the White Witch. While the others hurriedly don coats and boots, Mrs. Beaver scuttles about the den packing provisions for the journey: sugar, tea, matches, two or three loaves of bread, a ham, and a dozen clean handkerchiefs. She’d have toted her sewing machine, as well, had Mr. Beaver not convinced her the extra weight would prove too burdensome. She grieves over leaving it behind as her frantic companions rush her out the door with only minutes to spare.

I’ve always felt for Mrs. Beaver. I can sympathize with her desire to be well-prepared, for I share the same mindset. I know that dire circumstances demand a drastically different approach to material possessions — the sewing machine that is a blessing at home would be a curse on the road, especially if it causes the company to be captured — but I’m still sad to see her leave it behind, never mind that she receives a nicer, newer sewing machine later in the book.

When I think of my sisters in Alabama whose homes were recently ransacked by tornados, or I remember my sisters in Japan who lost not only property and possessions but also loved ones in the tsunami, I am ashamed to be crying over the fact that our new kitchen won’t hold a table big enough for my whole family to sit together at mealtimes. Those women were not afforded the luxury of slowly sifting through their belongings and deciding what to keep and what to toss. They know experientially that “Life is more than food and the body more than clothes.” (Luke 12:23)

I have always prayed that God would teach me life’s lessons in the gentlest way possible. He has been faithful to honor that request once again, and  I am grateful He has allowed me this long goodbye. It can still be a little painful, but in a different way, like pulling a Band-Aid off hair by hair instead of ripping it loose in one swift stroke…. No, that analagy trivializes the torment others have endured. Say instead it’s like skinning a knee as opposed to severing a limb.

Whether I’m motivated by materialism, or sentimentality, or my “waste not, want not” upbringing, the fact remains that I’ve become far too attached to my stuff. What exasperates my husband, I think, is the fact that it’s not the nicest things we own that I’m the most attached to. It’s the beat-up buffet with only three good legs that has followed us from our first apartment, representative of the best we could afford for many years. It’s my grandma’s rusty glider, where I sat beside her shelling peas as a kid and rocked colicky babies to sleep as an adult. It’s the uneven panels of stained glass the children helped me solder together for our bathroom windows. It’s the doorjamb with eight years of pencil lines marking my children’s growth progress.

At any rate, I am now in the process of downsizing. My son Benjamin found the house we’re moving into, but God picked it. We can tell He went before us and smoothed the way, because His fingerprints are all over the place. Just the fact that our landlord agreed to rent to a family with twelve children is a small miracle in itself!

With every load we carry over, that place is looking more and more (and this one less and less) like home. It is a beautiful house with a great floor plan and will accommodate a surprising number of the things I was reluctant to leave behind, often in spaces that seem tailor made for them. Beds, curtains, piano, rugs — time and again, they’ve fit where we’ve needed them to go without an inch to spare. I may not be able to squeeze my ten-foot table into my new breakfast nook, but oddly enough, there’s a ten-foot cubby in the garage that seems to serve no other purpose but to temporarily house that table as a makeshift workbench.

So here again, God is leading us by baby steps. If there is a mud hut in our future — and there may be — He is not asking us to move there today. We’ve signed a fourteen-month lease on our new home, which will allow our older boys to finish up at UT Tyler while we sort out our next step. We honestly don’t know what that next step may be, but we know that God knows, and that He is good and merciful and sovereign. And shouldn’t that be enough?

Be Careful What You Pray For – Part 1

Eight years ago, my husband and I built our dream home. I’d been driving past the most beautiful tract of land several times a week for three years, and each time I did, I prayed that God would send someone to develop the property so that our family could someday live there. God answered that prayer, and we ended up buying a two-acre wooded lot that was far enough from town to give our kids room to roam, but close enough that my doctor-husband could get to the hospital in five minutes flat.

We designed the house ourselves, right down to the placement of every last lavatory, lock, and light switch. We were there when the foundation was poured to put our footprints in the cement, there when the walls were framed to inscribe scripture verses on the studs, there when the windows were hung to hope that God’s light would shine through us to our community, there each step of the way, dedicating our home to Him, purposing to use it for His glory, and praying that every guest would feel warmly welcomed and would sense within these walls the love and joy and peace that comes only through Christ.

I believe God honored those prayers, as well as our commitment to use our home for ministry. In the time that we have lived here, literally thousands of people have passed through our doors. We’ve hosted exchange students, furloughing missionaries, homeschool groups, office parties, neighborhood picnics, baby showers, family reunions, formal dinners, ice cream socials, ping-pong tournaments, movie screenings, worldview discussions, geography bees, bridal showers, egg hunts, caroling parties, and even an outdoor wedding here. For almost a year, over 100 people gathered in our house every week for Sunday worship and fellowship dinner. It has been a blessing and a privilege for our family to play a part in all of this.

Several months ago, we opened our home for a weekly Bible study using David Platt’s excellent book RADICAL. I suppose a good corollary to “Be careful what you pray for” is “Be careful what you read.” This book, based completely upon the commands of Christ, challenges readers to spend less so they can give more. It wasn’t written for the fainthearted, and you shouldn’t read it if you don’t want to feel convicted. But if you are looking for a fresh sense of purpose, you should devour it and do what it says, looking to God for guidance in how to best demonstrate the radical love of Jesus to those who do not know Him.

As my husband and I pondered the ideas set forth in this 220-page tome, we were forced to admit that the main thing preventing our giving more was the monthly mortgage payments we were making on our dream home. So we began getting our house ready to put on the market, and I began praying that putting it on the market would not be necessary.

Even more overwhelming than the thought of moving is the thought of keeping a house show-ready for months or years at a time and being prepared to vacate the premises at a moment’s notice should a potential buyer want to view it. That is stressful stuff for any household, but especially so for a homeschooling family with twelve children. So I prayed that if God really wanted us to sell our house, He would send a buyer to our front porch and spare me the hassle of listing it.

I suppose it was a prayer I felt safe praying. The neighbors across the street from us had been trying to sell their house for years with no takers, and we have since been informed by an appraiser that in the past eight months, not a single house in our price range has sold in all of East Texas. It would truly take a miracle for God to sell ours without so much as a sign in the yard. And that was fine by me, because I didn’t want to move, anyway. But neither did I want to cling to my possessions if God wanted to take them from me. That prayer was my way of “proving” that I was holding His blessings with an open hand. And I prayed it faithfully for six months: “Not my will, but Thine be done. I don’t want to sell this house, God, but I will if You send us a buyer.”

And then the miracle happened. Just one day after newspapers announced that the US Housing Market had hit its all-time low, God brought someone to our doorstep who offered to write us a check for this wonderful place we call home. Thus, our latest adventure began. And as I struggled against the urge to tighten my grasp on the things around me, I came face-to-face with the realization that maybe I wasn’t holding my possessions with such an open hand, after all.