The Things You Can’t Do For Your Kids


By Joy Willis

If you are a mom you probably do a lot for your kids. OK…that’s an understatement. You feed and dress them. You listen to their stories, their cries, their complaints, their joys. You make sure they eat their vegetables and get to bed on time. You do most everything for them. If you are concerned about their moral and spiritual development (and most of us are) you probably take them to church, read them Bible stories and pray before bed. 

But have you thought much about the things you CAN’T do for them? I have. I can discipline my kids when they do wrong, but I can’t make them want to do right. I can take them to church, but I can’t make them love God. I can expose them to people who are hurting, but I can’t give them a compassionate heart. I can model thankfulness, but I can’t give them a contented spirit. I can talk to them about making good choices, but I can’t give them a heart that wants to follow God.

The things I can do for them are important – even life-giving. But the things I can’t do for them are pretty important, too. I believe that’s where prayer comes in. While my own mom could not give me a heart for prayer, she certainly modeled it for me. One of my most vivid memories as a young child all the way through my teenage years is catching my mom on her knees, early in the morning, praying for me. I didn’t think too much about it at the time. Actually, I was often annoyed because I wanted her to fix my breakfast and do all the other things that she did for me as my mom. But she knew that praying for me was a way she could ask God to do the things that she couldn’t do for me…the things that only He can do.

At the end of elementary school, my family was preparing to move overseas to a country in South America. My mom was on it. Praying that God would provide a friend, just one good friend, for me in my new school in a new country. That summer we went on vacation and I struck up a friendship with a girl my age in the hotel swimming pool. While we were swimming, our moms were talking and discovered that both of our families were getting ready to move to the same city, in the same country in South America and we would be in the same grade at the same school. Coincidence? Small world? Not a chance. That was an answer to my mom’s prayer for a friend for me. And don’t you think it put my mom’s heart at ease to know, before we even moved, that I had a friend? We ended up being great friends and even college roommates. 

My mom is a prayer warrior, no doubt. And she didn’t just pray in her own prayer closet. She took the words of Jesus seriously in Matthew 18 where He says, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When I was in high school, my mom began praying with a group of other moms through an organization called Moms in Prayer (at that time, it was called Moms in Touch). Moms in Prayer is an international organization that brings moms together to pray for their kids and their schools. I knew nothing about Moms in Prayer when I was in High School, but my life has certainly been impacted by it. The fact that I made it though High School without doing anything life-altering stupid is a result of God’s grace and my mom’s prayers. Not to mention the prayers of the other moms she prayed with. My mom prayed for their kids and they prayed for me.

I didn’t really know about Moms in Prayer until the time came for my oldest daughter to start kindergarten. I was a nervous wreck! Sending my baby off for most hours of the day, five days a week, was more than I thought I could handle. My mom told me I should check to see if there was a Moms in Prayer group that prayed for my daughter’s elementary school and there was! From the very first week that she went to kindergarten I began praying with four strangers with one very important thing in common…the desire to pray for our kids and their school. Those times quickly became one of my most treasured times of the week.  It is a precious thing to hear other moms pray their hearts for their children and then have the privilege to also lift their children up to the Father. Hearing these women pray for my children changed my prayer life. They prayed things for my kids that I never would have thought to pray and I incorporated those things into my own prayers for my children. 

In the book of Exodus, God has brought His people out of slavery and is about to give them the 10 commandments. While their leader, Moses, is up on the mountain receiving the law from God to take back to the people, the Israelites, God’s own people, build a golden calf to worship in place of God. In Exodus 32, God tells Moses that He is ready to destroy them and start a new nation with Moses. Moses, on behalf of Israel, begs for God’s mercy and He relents, withholding His anger and continuing to show them His mercy and grace instead. God heard Moses’ prayer and relented. I don’t know exactly how prayer works, but what I do know is that it makes a difference. God uses our prayers to do the things that only He can do.

Later, in the book of Ezekiel, there is a similar scenario. The people of Israel have fallen away from God and are living in disobedience. In Ezekiel 22:30-31 God says, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” The Lord looked for someone to stand in the gap, but there was no one. 
Comparing the two stories and their very different outcomes, my first thought is, “If I don’t stand in the gap, in prayer, for my kids who will?” I may not completely understand how prayer works, but what I am certain of is that it does make a difference. My prayers for my kids matter. 

If you are a mom, or a grandmom, of preschoolers, school-age or college age kids, I hope you will consider joining Moms in Prayer. We have a group that meets every Wednesday night and we pray for our kids and their schools. No matter where you are in your own prayer life, there is a place for you in Moms in Prayer. We are just average moms praying our hearts for our kids. Won’t you join us and see God do the things only He can do for your kids?

Joy Willis lives in Gainesville, Georgia with her student pastor husband, Jamie, and their three daughters. Joy is a graphic artist and
loves anything creative whether its trying a new recipe, creating a digit
scrapbook or taking pictures of life’s moments as they happen. This is her 7th year
praying with other moms through Moms in Prayer. 

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