Parents brought little children to Jesus, that He should put his hands on them, and pray (Matthew 19:13). Though the disciples rebuked them1, Jesus received them. Doubtless the disciples thought the Lord was too busy to take time to pray for children, but Jesus was not too busy for children or prayer. He loved children and sometimes called them to Him (Matthew 18:2-5). On this occasion He said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14), evidently honoring the parents’ requests to pray for them.
We also have the privilege to set a child on God’s knee and ask for His blessings. Like Abraham, we can pray, O that Ishmael (insert any child’s name here) might live before thee! (Genesis 17:18) and God will hear (17:20). Like Jacob, God wants us to bring our children to Him in their youth (Genesis 48:9). Like Hannah, we can take our children to God’s temple (1 Samuel 1:24), and leave them in His care. Like David, we can beseech the Lord for the child (2 Samuel 12:16)2, and pray that our sons and daughters will be given a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision (1 Chronicles 29:19; cf. Psalm 72:1). David’s wise prayer includes two worthy points: (1) Pray for children to be faithful (keep thy commandments); (2) Pray for children to be useful (to build the palace).
Our children can be changed through prayer. It is good to provide food for children (1 Timothy 5:8); it is good to cook for them; it is good to make up their beds and wash their clothes; it is good to play games with them and talk to them; it is good to go for walks with them and take them to the library and McDonalds; but it is better to pray for them! Is it not ironic that people who get worked up over the issue of prayer in public schools may seldom utilize the opportunity to pray for schoolchildren, against which there is no law. Pray with them when they are underfoot in the daytime; pray for them when they are asleep at night.
We can pray for faithful couples (or ourselves) who desire children to have them (Luke 1:13). Prayers for children are frequent in the Bible. They were offered by men (Genesis 25:21), by women (Genesis 30:17; 1 Samuel 1:11), and by those who wish a family well (Ruth 2:12; 1 Samuel 7:9). An intercessor can start with the infants (Luke 18:15), and pray for each child in the congregation. It would be appropriate to pray by name for the children in our Bible classes, in our communities, and, especially, those who do not have Christian parents.
Manoah wondered aloud at the announcing of Samson’s birth, How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? (Judges 13:12b). His entreating prayer was one most parents have uttered: O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born (13:8). We can learn how to pray for our children by studying how Jesus prayed for His children (disciples): He prayed for Peter: ,that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:32). The worst tragedy that could happen to our children is not a bad car wreck or crippling disease. It is not to be cut off in their youth. The worse thing that could happen is for them never to gain faith in God, or, having gained it, to lose it. About the time they go to college, all parents fear that they may prove to be a rock heart which have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away (Luke 8:13), or a cluttered heart that allows thorns to choke the spiritual life out of them. We fear that they will go out from us because they had not really been of us (1 John 2:19). We fear that some false teacher may overthrow their faith (2 Timothy 2:18; Romans 16:17) or that a root of bitterness will spring up, defile them, and cause them to fail in the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15). We can that this will not happen (and we can start years before they move away).
Jesus also prayed for His children: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil (John 17:15). The world is the great enemy of our youth. It tries to press its mold upon their fashion, speech, habits, recreation, and attitudes (Romans 12:1,2). It seems innocent, but puts one at direct odds with God (as His enemy, James 4:4). We can help throw a protective armor around our youth by our prayers. In the context of the Christian armor, we are told to pray ,always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18).
Jesus prayed for His children, ,that they all may be one, (John 17:21). We should pray that the children we love will become and remain one with God. We can pray that they believe in the one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5); remain in His one church (Ephesians 4:4; 1:22,23), forbearing one another in love while endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2), remembering we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25), stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27), be of one accord, of one mind (Philippians 2:12), exhort one another daily (Hebrews 3:13), be all of one mind, having compassion one of another (1 Peter 3:8), and have fellowship one with another (1 John 1:7). To take inspiration from Paul’s inspiration: We can pray that they become a member of the one body, be filled with the one Spirit, have confidence in the one hope of their calling; always submit to the one Lord, always stand for the one faith after having submitted to the one baptism, and never disappoint the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12)