By Linnette Bachman
When I pray with my kids, I have a habit of praying for temporary things. I’ve found my bedtime prayers with my kids can be very routine: Lord, please help McKenzie to have sweet dreams and stay healthy and strong… When I think about these prayers, I wonder if twenty years from now I will look back and regret not praying bigger or more intentionally. Some nights I am just plain tired and don’t seem to have the mental capacity to think anymore! But deep-down I desire to be more thoughtful in prayer and to model a richer prayer life to my kids.
When I study the prayers in Scripture, I don’t see believers praying for temporary things. Especially in the prayers of Paul, he is focused on the spiritual realm, on eternal things, and not on the physical realm. He often prays one heart-level thing “so that” something even deeper will happen. Here’s an example from Ephesians 1:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
I’ve been curious–what is my “so that” when I am praying for my kids?
Often in my heart the “so that” is for life to be easier for me!
Lord, help Kate to heal quickly… so that this won’t pass from kid to kid and make life really hard for me this next week. Lord, help Andrew to learn to obey me… so that tomorrow won’t be so exhausting and messy. Lord, help everyone to sleep through the night… so that I can get a full night of sleep too.
I don’t think any of these are wrong things to pray, and looking at the theme of my prayers I must be tired! Sleep has been a regular prayer request for the past decade of my life! And the Lord has graciously carried me through seasons of colic and bed-wetting and night terrors. But when I zoom out and think more big picture, I wonder, What are the subtle messages I am passing on to my kids when they hear me praying for them? What opportunities am I missing out on when I omit the spiritual realm in my prayers?
Lately, I have been challenging myself to add a “so that” in the spiritual realm:
Lord, heal this cough Kate has so that she can be fully able to grow and learn more about this world You’ve created during school tomorrow…
If I have the mental energy at my kids’ bedtime, I will see how many so that’s I can add on.
so that she will learn more about who You are…
so that she will grow in love for You and grow in her relationship with You…
so that her faith will be real, and she will trust You no matter what struggles she faces in life…
so that she will tell others about You and lead them into relationship with You too…
Taking the time to think through a “so that” has helped me evaluate why I am praying what I am praying. It has helped me be more intentional with my prayers. I find that praying “so that” is so much richer than a simple and general “God bless Kate.” It is also so much closer to my true heart for her!
I don’t always have energy to go there by the end of the day, and there are times when I plead in prayer for good health because I am seeing my little ones suffer, and I know that I have freedom to approach my Father God and ask Him to intervene. Please hear me that I think this is totally fine! But I also want to invite you into this “so that” challenge as we nurture faith in our little ones.
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career twelve years ago (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and they currently lead the collegiate Nav ministries in Nashville. They have five children: Kate (9), Kylie (8), McKenzie (6), Daniel (4), and Andrew (baby). Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.