When children misbehave, everyone seems to have an opinion about the best remedy—spank them, hug them, ignore them, bribe them, appease them… and everything in between. Motherhood is a gift that comes with a great deal of pressure and responsibility. God’s Word doesn’t offer any defenses. King Solomon wrote, “A child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). Talk about pressure! How does a Christian mother honor her family and the Lord while navigating the opinions and influences of others?
Protect Your Relationship With God
Susanna Wesley, the mother of John Wesley and Charles Wesley, had nineteen children, and yet she managed to put God first. When she needed to spend time alone with God, there was no place in the house where there weren’t kids. So she would sit down on a chair in the kitchen, pull her apron up over her head, and pray to God in the only sanctuary she could devise.
She must have been familiar with Matthew 6:33, which says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” She realized that seeking God first was the only way to manage all the details of her bustling household because He promises to provide for our needs when we seek Him above all else.
Amid all of motherhood’s challenges, prioritize your personal relationship with God. No matter where you are in life, no matter how stressful life may seem, find a sanctuary where you can be alone with Him for a few moments of quietness. Jesus promises to give us strength and wisdom if we stay connected to Him.
I [Jesus] am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Love and Joy Perfected
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.
The World’s Hatred
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, “They hated Me without a cause.”
The Coming Rejection
But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
Never Stop Praying for Your Children
There is a great story from history about a mother named Monica whose devotion to prayer helped transform her prodigal son into a renowned theologian. In his early years, he spent his days looking for a good time wherever it could be found. He traveled to Carthage, Rome, and Milan. Each time, Monica followed. For more than three decades, she wept and pled and assaulted heaven with perpetual missiles of prayer on behalf of her son.
At last, under deep conviction, Monica’s son retreated to a friend’s villa in Milan. He wanted to become a Christian, but he wasn’t prepared to relinquish his immorality. He once admitted in his writings, “I was still tightly bound by the love of women.” While wrestling with these conflicting desires, her son heard a nearby child singing, “Take up and read.” Spotting a book nearby, he said, “I snatched it up and opened it. And in silence I read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell.” The passage was Romans 13:13-14:
He immediately knew God was speaking to Him through those words. He testified,
Monica’s son, who we know as Augustine of Hippo, recounted his mother’s faithfulness in praying for him with these words: “Thy hands, O my God, and the hidden design of thy providence did not desert my soul and out of the blood of my mother’s heart, through the tears she poured out day by day and night by night, there was a sacrifice offered to thee for me, and by marvelous ways, thou didst deal with me.”
Shortly after her son’s conversion, Monica died. On her deathbed she proclaimed that her life’s work was over, but her son’s work was only beginning. She was right. Augustine shaped all subsequent Christian history, writing more than a thousand works, including 242 books, and giving us this remarkable account of a prodigal son and his praying mother.
Like Monica, you may have children who are so far from God that they seem to be out of reach. Maybe you’ve prayed for them for years, yet it doesn’t seem to be making any difference. You may have lost hope. Indeed, you may have excellent reasons to doubt your children.
But never give up on prayer, and never give up on God. With God, there are no lost causes. The apostle Paul was a man who greatly grieved his Father before becoming a pillar of the early Church. In an encouraging letter he wrote to the church at Philippi, Paul had this to say about prayer, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).
We can do more for our children after we pray, but we cannot do more for them until we pray. Praying for our kids is the first line of defense—even when they are adults. If we commit to spending time at the throne of God, walking closely with Him, and trusting Him with our children, we will become the parents our kids need us to be.
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