The #1 Thing Every Child Needs Most

I’ve been working on a new talk.  It’s called “In the Middle of the Muddle: What Matters and What Doesn’t.”   I’ve been thinking about the endless “to do” lists we moms have.  And I’ve been struck with how important it is for each of us to sort out what really really matters, and what doesn’t.

One of the things I loved most about Shauna Niequist’s book Bittersweet was her chapter entitled “Things I Don’t Do.”  It was a great reminder that in order to do the things we believe really do matter, we absolutely must let go of things that don’t matter as much.

It got me to thinking about what is truly the #1 thing I believe every child needs most.  Of course there are lots of candidates for this #1 spot.  But I chose my #1 because of its eternal power.  It’s the one thing that we never stop giving our kids: PRAYER.

A mother’s prayers.  For every day of her life—and, I believe, right on into eternity.

I was reminded of the power of a mother’s prayers recently when I had the privilege of speaking at a memorial service for my aunt.  Aunt Sue was a remarkable woman—especially for her times.  A seminary librarian for many years, she served as a librarian at a Native American school after she retired, married for the first time at age 75, and then traveled the world for many years setting up libraries at various mission seminaries and Bible schools while her retired-seminary-professor husband preached and taught.   She died just months short of her 100th birthday and 25th anniversary.

As I reflected on her life, I kept thinking of the little hard-scrabble farm in Minnesota where she was raised.  And immediately I thought of my grandma, a German farm wife with a first-grade education who learned English for the first time in her forties and raised six children who all had college degree—and, several of them, masters degrees or doctorates.

More importantly, I thought of Grandma’s prayers for her children.  Her deepest desire was to raise them in the Lord.  I came across a long-ago letter (written in 1950) in which Grandma commented that “the desire to have you safe in the arms of Jesus has never left me and will never leave me as long as we live.”  She went on to say, “I know we both have failed many times in giving you the right training, but God in His great mercy has made it so that you all have had the chance to experience the new birth which is the most important thing in life and our prayer is that after our earthly life is finished we will be able to say, Lord, here are those which Thou hast entrusted to us. (underlining hers) That will be heaven, first to see Christ who has redeemed us and to praise Him for bringing us safely home.”

A pretty good prayer, if you ask me.    Yes, we fail many times as parents—Grandma sure had that right.  But then come the pivotal words: “But God in His great mercy...”

And we keep on praying.  As I watch our children focus very intentionally on training their children in Godly ways, I think of the generational impact of mama-prayers—for our children, and their children, and their children’s children, as the Bible so often says.

Deathless prayers, as E. M. Bounds observes: “God shapes the world by prayers.  Prayer are deathless—they outlive the lives of those who utter them.”

So just in case you might be making your own list of Things I Do and Things I Don’t Do, here’s my recommendation for #1 on your “To Do” list: Pray for your kids—today, tomorrow, and always.