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Praying for Your Adult Children

praying handsMemories . . . Kissing “ow-ies,” bedtime snuggles, and being suckered into making yet another peanut butter and jelly sandwich—”Son, how about this time you make your own?” “But Mom,” his voice all syrupy, “no one can make them like you!” Sigh. Those were simpler times, weren’t they? When we could spread our feathers and still tuck the chicks carefully under our wings.

One Last Legacy

We miss them. We see them struggle and agonize over how to help. Sometimes we groan, “If only I had done this or that better. . . ”

One thing remains. We can pray.

Our Privilege

Praying for our adult children is a privilege. Matthew 19:13-14 says, Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

After my sons reached adulthood I came across these verses and found myself reacting, “Oh Lord, these parents brought you their children; is it too late to ask for a special blessing on my adult sons?” Well, of course not! How wonderful that with our prayers, we can still place our adult children in Jesus’ lap and ask for blessing.

An Inspirational Model

One example we find in scripture of a godly parent who kept spiritual watch over his children is Job. Look what he did:

Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice (Job 1:4-5, NIV).

Job’s Habits

Here we see that Job’s adult children enjoyed partying, much like young adults today! They were not doing anything wrong necessarily, but Job’s actions addressed potential dangers. First, we see that he got up early and offered burnt sacrifices. Keeping prayerful watch over our children means a willingness to invest time and effort. It will cost us something. Second, Job placed his children under the blood sacrifice that God had ordained for Old Testament times. In essence he was asking God to forgive them in the event they had sinned. In a similar way, we can plead the blood of Jesus over our children and their overt and covert sins. This is a plea for forgiveness and mercy.

Third, Job prayed because he was concerned about his sons’ and daughters’ relationship with God. With adult children, there is the seen and the unseen. It is often the unseen, the unknown, that keep us parents awake at night, isn’t it? Job prayed over the unseen, over the state of his children’s hearts. We can, too.

The Protection of Jesus’ Name

In John 17:11-12, Jesus prays for believers, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” The name of Jesus is powerful. The name of Jesus protects. I believe that it is always appropriate to request that Jesus protect our child by the power of his name.

Praying Scripture

One of the best ways to pray for our children is to use scripture. We can be certain we are praying God’s will when we quote his Word back to Him! Here are some of my favorites. I like to paraphrase them to include my children’s names.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done in my children’s lives as it is in heaven . . . Forgive my children their debt as they forgive their debtors . . . and lead my children not into temptation, but deliver them from the evil one . . . ” (Matthew 6:9-13).

“Give my children an undivided heart that they may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).

“How can my sons keep their way pure? By living according to your word. May they seek you with all their hearts; do not let them stray from your commands. Let them hide your word in their hearts that they might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9-10).

“Lord, help my child flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on You out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:22).

“Fulfill your purposes for my children; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands” (Psalm 138:8).

Lord, I thank you that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate my children from your love . . . (Romans 8:38).

More Help

The Word provides countless ways to pray. And we have the help of the Holy Spirit as well. How often I find myself unable to express what my heart seems to know, but this is when I find comfort in Romans 8:26-27, In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Prayer and Spiritual Battle

Ezekiel 22:30 talks about standing in the gap on behalf of the land. We can do this for our children, too. Where there may be a breach, where there is no advocate, through our prayers we stand guard.

Praying for our adult children means entering into battle. In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul admonishes believers to “put on the full armor of God” so that we can ” take our stand against the devil’s schemes (vs. 11). He tells us to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and sandals of readiness to share the gospel. We are to take in hand the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. Being fully equipped is certainly important as we pray.

Communication—Critical for Soldiers

Then Paul adds, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (vs. 18). If Paul had lived in our technological times, he might have been inspired to continue metaphors. Perhaps he would have described prayer as the communications system between us and our Commander at headquarters. Prayer is a way for believers to relay their need in the trenches, but more importantly, to receive their Commander’s orders. Will we stay alert to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in matters pertaining to our children?


The spiritual battle going on in heavenly realms for our children’s souls is real. The question is, will you and I engage in the fight for our sons and daughters by committing time to prayer? Will we place a stake in heavenly ground on their behalf? Sometimes we look at circumstances and despair. But remember, the Good Shepherd is more than able to snatch your little lamb out of the lion’s mouth. Jesus tells us, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26).

And ultimately, isn’t that why we pray?