So, the homeschooling era of your life has ended. The last child has graduated. The emotions may be mixed. On one hand, it’s wonderful to know you have accomplished the task. On the other, it can make you feel empty, wondering what comes next.
The reality is, parenting, whether it has involved homeschooling or not, is never over. It just changes in its emphasis. We have to let our grown kids make their own decisions and choose their path — to refuse the temptation to leverage control. That sometimes means swallowing the unasked-for advice which we so clearly see they still need. It is hard!
There is one part of parenting which we must never relinquish, however, and that is prayer for our children. This will be a lifelong ministry to them, one they will never outgrow a need for — and it is a huge deal. While we may have put a lot of sweat into “training up our children in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6), as powerful and important as that is, interceding on their behalf is just as powerful, if not more so.
Ideally, you have been praying for them since they were born. Together with the Lord, you have dreamed over them, expressed great desires for them, pleaded for that right spouse to eventually come along. But the job is never done. There will always be fresh turns on their life-road, with new pitfalls presenting themselves along the way. Parents, we can help them navigate those through our prayers, no matter how old they (and we) get.
Some of you may be feeling guilty. I wasn’t very faithful about praying for my children during their growing up years. I guess I messed up. You know, parents get busy, and it doesn’t always happen like it should. I doubt if most of us feel we prayed enough for our kids. Take heart. Even if you neglected to pray for them as much as you should have when they were young, it’s never too late to start. God is very good at handling eleventh hour situations. He has a way of making up for our lost time in prayer. It’s not about how many words we should have spoken. It’s about His marvelous ability to make up for our lack and pour out bountiful answers to the prayers we do bring before His throne. So start now. He is faithful, even when we have not been.
What if I raised them right to the best of my ability and prayed diligently for them, but they still turned away from Jesus when they grew up? That happens. It’s not always your fault. Our children have to make right decisions, too. This is the time, more than ever, to intercede for their turnaround. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man [or woman] avails much” (James 5:16). Still. Just as it did in Elijah’s day. What do you think the father in the story of the prodigal son did while his boy was gone? Most likely he was interceding. God delights in the business of bringing prodigal sons and daughters home.
Even if our children are following the Lord, they will always need to hear His voice with clarity, to make God-choices rather than “good” choices, to be able to discern the subtleties of right and wrong in gray areas. They will need to overcome busyness and laziness in order to stay consistent in prayer and the Word. They will need to grow increasingly more passionate for their Savior. Doors of opportunity must be opened before them which the devil would like to keep closed — and they will have to recognize those doors, so they can walk through them. We can be powerful aides to them in these things through our prayers.
Never minimize in your mind the power of your prayers on behalf of your children. They are more crucial than you can see at this time. Start now, no matter how early or late the hour is in their life and in yours. This is a long-haul ministry, an enduring ministry, one of eternal impact and reward. And it is precious to the Lord.
Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam