“Momma, why do so many of the kids play with their phones during service,” my twelve-year-old daughter asked me the other day. I glanced at her through the rear view mirror as she continued, “they spend the time on social media instead of paying attention to what the pastor is saying.”
This question did not surprise me, because I regularly work with the youth in my church– from babies in the nursery to high schoolers in my co-op robotics class. I see the things that have become most important to them, and these things are rarely Godly.
It’s true, we live in a fallen world, and we are all sinners forgiven by God’s grace. However, that doesn’t mean we just turn on Netflix and let the chips fall where they may. We are called to pray for our world, and this includes those very precocious tweens who are no longer babies toddling around but are not yet ready to be set out on their own to face the ever-darkening world.
What then is a Godly mother to do?
5 Ways to Pray for Your Tween
“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” Abigail Van Buren
That first moment after we become a parent, whether by birth or adoption, we begin envisioning the person our child will become. What will be important to them—popularity, money, or fighting for the underdog? Will they be kind to the low in Spirit or tolerant of those who cause hurt?
We have no idea. There are no quick answers, no prior knowledge of who they will be. The best hope we have, in fact the only hope we have, is turning to God in prayer.
Our children’s character will grow and change as they grow and change. They’ll be influenced by not only us, but by those they interact with throughout their lives. Especially as they get older and spend more time with their friends, and less time hanging on their mother’s leg. As our children hit the ‘tween stage of growing up, they start looking to outside influences such as music, movies, and social media to teach them what’s trendy. Honestly, that isn’t likely to be their mom.
That’s why it is so important that we turn to God in prayer for their character, because those outside influences can be stronger than we are, but they’ll never be as strong as God.
“Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.” Madeleine L’Engle
When our children grow up and leave the safety of our homes, the most important thing for them to have in their toolbox for survival is faith. Not our faith, but their own—and I’m not talking about the new-age, self-help, “faith in yourself” kind either.
In the NIV translation of the Bible the word faith is used 270 times. The basic meaning of this word is to fully trust and be committed to God. Our children cannot share our faith with us. They need to have a strong, personal faith of their own in order to stay afloat in a world intent on sinking them into the darkness.
Even before our children become adults–especially during the rough ‘tween years—our children need our prayers for this. They need to be cultivating their own faith. No amount of parental conversations will instill this in them, because chances are every heart-felt talk we have with them is being questioned and over-ruled by people who appear to be ‘cooler’ than we are.
We as parents can only do so much, but prayer is powerful and connects us straight to the one who loves our children even more deeply than we do.
“He will protect His faithful ones, but the wicked will disappear in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone.” 1 Samuel 2:9
It is well known that our world is not a safe place. Between wide-spreading diseases, persecution of Christians, and the ever-expanding dangers of social media it is difficult to feel safe anywhere. There is only so much we as parents can do to keep our children safe.
Yes, we can monitor their social media activity—or prevent them from having it altogether—we can teach them how to cross the road safely, to wash their hands, and to not get into vehicles with strangers.
The problem with this: it’s not enough.
Our warnings and trainings are not enough, because every person has been blessed with free-will.
Even our ‘tweens.
We could spend all our time worrying ourselves to exhaustion about what could happen to our children (and believe me, I’m there many nights), or we can kneel to God and give Him our worries. We can (and should) pray for our children’s safety. Not just their physical safety, but their mental, emotional, and spiritual safety as well.
It’s hard for us mere mortals to be everything to everyone all the time. In fact, it’s impossible. Our Heavenly Father, however, can.
We need to move out of the way and let Him.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” 1 Peter 4:8
As Christians we are meant to go out into the world and interact with others; with those who follow Jesus, but also with those who don’t. We were created to be in relationship with others, and because of this—and the fallen world we live in—it is important to pray fervently for the relationships our children engage in.
Relationships are tough, regardless of age, but when our children are in that uncomfortable in-between stage—no longer little kids, not yet teenagers—it can be downright terrible. Unless our children live in a bubble, they’ll likely experience bullying. If not towards themselves, then towards someone else. For this reason, I find myself on my knees in prayer.
We can’t be with our ‘tweens all the time, so we need God and the Holy Spirit to be there to help guide them through the tricky obstacles of their relationships. They need us to be praying for them; need us praying for God to guide them to people who will build them up, not tear them down; praying for them to find other Godly people who are dedicated to Jesus and His teachings.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I’ve spent countless hours praying for my ‘tween, and that includes praying about her future. None of us know where our children will be in the future—or who they’ll be.
We can only pray that God works in their lives and they follow His teachings.
There are so many opportunities for our children, so many choices and decisions they can and will make; most of them without our counsel.
Each child has been created in God’s image, and God has provided each of these precious beings to have freewill (there’s that pesky word again!), to lead their lives either following Him or following our society.
As parents, we obviously want our ‘tweens to have the best possible future (following Jesus).
Maybe they’ll find the cure for Cancer, maybe they’ll help colonize Mars, or maybe they’ll guide others to Jesus before He returns.
We don’t know, and we don’t have any say in that either.
If they choose to not follow Jesus, the possibilities are also endless—and terrifying. They may still do amazing things, because God can and will use whomever to have His will done. Their eternal lives, however, may be desolate.
So, we pray.
Something to Consider
Praying for our ‘tweens is one of the most important things we can do each day. They’re going out into a world focused not on Jesus, but on instant gratification and materialism. Every person they meet will either lead them closer to God or further from Him.
When we pray for our children to be surrounded by those who will help them grow closer to Jesus, we are asking our Heavenly Father to do something He already wants to do. He doesn’t want our children to become part of the dark world, but to be a light shining in it for others.
Asking God to protect their physical and spiritual bodies; to guide them to a future where He is their center; to bring to the forefront worthy character; and to keep them safe as they grow—we are doing His will. We are fulfilling the most important part of our parenting job.
Trusting God to love our children more than we love them.
Something to Pray As We Pray Over Our Tweens
May we trust you with our ‘tweens during this season of transition. Protect them, guide them, and help them to grow into the lights You’ve designed them to be.
In Your Holy Name,
Sarah is a homeschooling mother of four (with one on the way), residing in Virginia with her Federal LEO husband. She writes about keeping Christ first and homeschooling in Faith. In other words, she writes about surviving motherhood with multiple children.
You can find her musings at wellofaith.com where she shares the good, the bad, and the sometimes messy of living the life God has designed for her.