by Pastor Tim Burt
In ministry, I have often been asked for prayer by parents who are very concerned and often emotionally distraught over their children. They did their best to raise their children to know and love the Lord, but now struggle as they watch their adult children seem to go astray from the life of Christ they grew up and were raised in. This is more common than not. Why would that be? Doesn't the word of God promise, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it?" Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
The answer is yes! That is a promise of God and one that our faith must stick firm to despite what we see our children doing! As children become young adults and enter into the world without you by their side, they are amongst the non-religious, atheists, and lovers of false gods. Each of those people has their own personal view of God and happily challenges the belief system of Christians. The debates go back and forth and most young adults are not prepared with the answers to support the kinds of questions that come at them. They can end up feeling foolish and realize, they don’t even really know what they believe, and why. They have grown up in your faith but don’t really have their belief systems down for themselves.
Every individual needs to experience the Lord for his or herself – including your children. You may be like Renee and I. We know our children had real experiences in the Lord growing up. We began training them as toddlers. As teenagers, they would often share their hearts on scripture that they had read, saying powerfully anointed things that ministered to our hearts. Renee and I would often rejoice in prayer, thanking God for the things He was teaching them.
Each of our children, as they had grown to become adults out on their own, had to come to grips with owning their own faith. They were no longer under our direct parental authority. They would now make their own life decisions. They’ve had to make decisions on their own about what they believe. They were challenged by their peers in college, and by worldly associates in the workplace who have little or no faith in God. They would have to learn to live for the Lord from their own volition, not from pressure from Renee and I to have some kind of religious faith. That is what children end up with when pressured to follow the Lord by their parents or others. They end up with religion.
What do I mean they ‘end up with religion’? When children are pressured to have a religious life because you want them to, they end up going through motions just to please you and others. They don’t do so out of a love for God, a personal relationship with Jesus, or a heart conviction of the kind of life they should live. They end up being religious – going through religious motions while living a worldly lifestyle – two things that should be contradictory! The world is full of religion and that is why the non-religious world thinks the religious world is so hypocritical. They see religious people professing to love God, yet their lifestyle contradicts that truth as they live as worldly as anyone without God. We don’t want that to happen to our children. We want them to know and love God because they believe and embrace Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and the Word of God as their living truth to guide their life choices.
Welcome to God’s world. He feels the same way about us, yet He doesn’t interfere or manipulate us. (If you’ve been told He does, you’ve been told wrong.) He doesn’t want us to make wrong choices. He wants us to draw near to Him and walk in His grace and guidance. Yet, sometimes you just do your own thing. And so do your children!
So, what’s the answer? I’ll give you four things!
First, set your heart like flint that love never fails. Love might look like it sometimes fails, but it doesn’t. Ultimately love will do its work. Love does not manipulate. It is kind, speaks encouragement, and is full of faith. You have to love your children during these years whether it’s a long duration or short. And even if they drive you crazy! Speak good over them. Call things that aren’t as though they are!
Secondly, you have to pray for them daily with sincere and true heart faith – not out of fear! Believe that God is working to draw them to Himself. Your prayers will cover them and protect them as much as possible, and in more ways than you can imagine. In most cases, God will use someone else to be the voice of reason and anointing to get through to them. Pray for the laborers that God sends across their path. They are working for you! And pray against the demonic forces trying to blind their eyes. 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV) “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Pray that the angelic host of Heaven will surround them during this time. Hebrews 1:14 (NIV) “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
Third, show emotional stability! You cannot afford to blow it by letting them drag your emotions into their muddy pit. Sometimes in this searching stage, they get obnoxious, cruel, manipulative, and make seemingly horrible choices. Establish clear boundaries for yourself. Don’t say or do what you will regret, and don’t let them drag your emotions and actions into that place. You are the mature adult right? So keep your emotions in check. Show the love of Jesus the best you are able. Keep in mind that one day they will show up, say they are sorry, and have come to their senses as did the prodigal son.
Finally, don’t you yourself live a hypocritical Christian lifestyle. Your children and the world are watching you! Don’t be a Pharisee and don’t be judgmental. Just live your life in a way that you hope they might be proud of and desire to emulate!
In conclusion: remember that as much as you love your children, Jesus loves them more and is working through your prayers behind the scenes! Love and prayer are two incomparable forces surpassing all others!
1 Corinthians 13:8 & 8 (NIV) “Love never fails… and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
In His Love,
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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