We’ve been under a lot of strain as a family for the last two years. Leaving London has meant leaving a house, friends, schools and church, and entering a new culture, church plant, friendship groups and home. For the children it’s meant seeing their parents handling all the stresses of our new situation and its demands.
It’s been a great opportunity for us all to taste God’s fresh and powerful grace, but it’s not been at all easy. On top of all of this, a couple of our kids have had serious illnesses, so we’ve all shared the strain of sickness, sadness, and numerous hospital appointments, and broken nights and days.
We’re not complaining, but at times it feels that we’re only surviving. My burden, in this post, is to think about how I’ve been prioritising the needs of my children in prayer. First off, I’ve not done it very well. Often my prayers have been perfunctory, and shallow. Or I’ve just been plain prayerless. But on my better days and weeks, my prayers have a purpose. I’ve got seven priorities, and take one in turn each day for our children. Here’s a quick tour:
Sunday – Spiritual growth. Two of ours are professing faith and are church members, all show encouraging responsiveness to Christ in different ways. On Sundays my prayers are for their spiritual needs, conversion, and growth in grace.
Monday – Education. Our children are in three different local schools, soon to be four – that’s a lot of fun for the school run! Some of their education is great, some of it is terrible. We’re praying for children who aren’t taught to idolise education and achievement, but who are inquisitive as well as successful Christ-honouring life-long learners.
Tuesday – Friends. We’re praying our kids through the joys and pains of negotiating good and bad peer groups, and making wise friendships, and being generous and loyal friends. Almost all of their new friends are from nonchristian homes, so we’re praying that they would be Gospel lights to them.
Wednesday – Future. I pray that my children would seek to use their gifts and personalities for Christ’s cause. I’m praying that the Lord would guide them into callings where they can thrive as His servants, whether they’re road sweepers or investment bankers.
Thursday – Ministries. We teach them that Gospel service is the only thing that will last, and I pray that they would discover the purpose, joy and freedom of seeking God’s Kingdom first, and give themselves wholeheartedly to it, at home, in church, and in the world.
Friday – Marriage. God may want some of my children to be single as adults. I’m praying that they would be content with the calling of singleness, or would be wise in making choices about a marriage partner. I don’t want mine to be child brides or grooms – but I want them to commit to Gospel-centred marriages, should that time come.
Saturday – Fun. Ministry homes can be very intense. And can produce some pretty odd children. I pray that our home life would have a Gospel seriousness, but would be marked by lots of fun, laughter, and spontaneous messing about. We pray for children who take the Gospel and other people very seriously, but know how to have fun whenever they should.
Could I pray better for my children? Oh yes. Could I pray for better things? Let me know, if I can improve.
Last of all, we Allens are probably still standing because of the magnificent loyalty of friends and church family, in their support, and especially in their prayers. We’ve been astonished by people’s generosity, and willingness to stand with us in prayer in our various trials. To God be the glory.