By Bev and Phil Haas
I’m finally admitting it—I worry about my kids. My husband says I worry way too much and should dial it back. So I’m looking for ways to stop worrying. Got any suggestions?
The truth is, we live in perilous times, and many people, especially parents, are experiencing high levels of anxiety. While we cannot hide our children away from the world, we can be proactive in protecting them. We can shield them in far greater ways than putting them in a plastic bubble or locking them in their rooms for the rest of their lives. We can pray. In Philippians 4:6 Paul mentioned prayer to those who were worrying: “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything” (Contemporary English Version).
According to the Bible the key to overcoming our anxiety is to turn our worries into prayers. The first minister I (Phil) served under when I started out in ministry almost 40 years ago used to say, “If it’s big enough to worry about, then it’s big enough to pray about!” Steve Bliffen was a big man and a man who was big on prayer. Never worrying about anything may seem impossible because we all have worries in our homes, on the job, at school, and anywhere else we find ourselves. But do you want to worry less? Then pray more! To help you get started, here are some practical suggestions that we hope help you dial back the worrying and turn on the praying.
When to Pray for Your Kids
To start, think of prayer as simply a conversation with God. In your conversations with God, remember the Bible urges you to pray about everything. Now let’s turn our attention to when you should pray.
George Herbert said, “Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” Herbert hit on two of the best times to pray for your kids—in the morning and at bedtime. Begin your day praying and end your day praying. And we would add, offer up a prayer whenever you begin to worry or think of your kids. The Bible tells us to “never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, CEV). This doesn’t mean that we spend all our time on our knees, but it is possible to always have a prayerful attitude. We can always be aware that God is with us at every moment, and we can have a conversation on the spot with him at any time.
In addition to your prayers, invite others to join you in praying for your kids. Find a few people you know who are prayer warriors and ask them to be part of a prayer network for your kids. Our son, Brian, has enlisted a group of people to pray for him, his family, and his ministry. He sends out a monthly update to this group of how God has answered prayers along with new prayer requests. The reason we know about his prayer network is because both of us are part of his prayer group!
How to Pray for Your Kids
We are supposing that you are just starting to develop the habit of prayer. With that in mind, one suggestion we have is to keep a prayer journal. Along with your prayer list, keep a journal of who and what you have prayed for in the past and write down God’s answers. We have all had prayers answered, but can you name five things you prayed for and how God answered them? If you don’t have some type of prayer journal, you probably can’t. Use this prayer journal to remind you of how God is faithful and active in your prayer life. If your children were not thankful and never recognized when you did good things for them, how would that make you feel? Don’t be guilty of asking God to answer prayers and then never acknowledging his provision.
A second simple suggestion is to pray specifically and try to avoid general prayers. Pray for your children’s specific needs, not just for God to “watch over them today.” Also ponder what you are worrying about and pray for that in detail.
Prayer is a proven source of power for parents to prepare, protect, and provide for their children. Prayer is also a strong antidote to worry. We hope you give prayer a chance to replace your worry over your kids with a confidence that God is watching over them.
Bev and Phil Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have two children and four grandsons. Send your questions about family life to Bev and Phil Haas in care of The Lookout (firstname.lastname@example.org). We regret that personal replies are not always possible.