Faith To Keep Praying For Your Unsaved Children

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And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

Nothing concerns Christian parents more than the salvation of their children. And God is concerned even more than we are.

God created the institution of family to reflect his own desire and love for his family. He sent his Son to bring us into his family.  When God saves us he adopts us as his children. He becomes our heavenly Father. He loves us as his precious children and makes us joint-heirs with Christ. Scripture is filled with his promises to parents. Promises like:

Isaiah 54:13 All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 59:21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

Psalm 102:28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

We should pray that God would fulfill these promises for our children, our grandchildren and all our descendants. If God has saved you, then you have good reason to believe and hope that he plans to save your children.

Speaking of Paul’s words to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16, Charles Spurgeon says this:

Acts 16:31 “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Does the father’s faith save the family? Yes! No! — Yes, it does in the sense that the father’s faith makes him pray for his family, and God hears his prayer, and the family is saved. No, the father’s faith cannot be a substitute for the faith of the children, for they must believe also. When a man has believed, there is a promise that his house will be saved. The father should not rest satisfied until he sees all his children saved. If he does rest, he has not believed correctly. Yet, there are those who only believe for themselves. Take the promise as broadly as the Word states and claim from God your little ones as well.” (Charles Spurgeon, Characteristics of Faith, in The Triumph of Faith in a Believer’s Life, Robert Hall, ed, 60)

“The father should not rest satisfied until he sees all his children saved.”

The church father Augustine was a wild and immoral teenager. When he got older, he rejected his mother Monica’s Christian faith and joined a cult. He fathered a child outside of marriage. Yet his mother never stopped praying for him, and near the end of her life, when he was 29, he became a believer. She died at age 56, and said on her death bed, “There was indeed one thing for which I wish to tarry a little bit in this life and that was that I might see you a Christian before I died. My God has exceeded this abundantly.”

Don’t stop praying for your children. Don’t give up. God hears our prayers for our children and grandchildren. He desires their salvation more than we do. If Jesus saved you, you have good reason to believe he intends to save your children as well. Pray that he will save them for his glory. Don’t rest satisfied until you see your children saved. And when he does save them, KEEP praying for them!

If God Knows Our Every Need, Why Does He Tell Us To Pray?

Clasped hands on troubled man

Most of us don’t like to humble ourselves. At least I don’t like to. And prayer is an act of humility. Prayer is an act of weakness. When we pray we admit to God that we desperately need help. That we’re weak and needy and not in control of all things. That we are not self-sufficient.

But God is attracted to this act of humility. So in one Peter 5:6-7 he tells us:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

We humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God.”  In other words prayer acknowledges that God is sovereign and controls all things. We bow before his sovereignty. We acknowledge that God rules but his mighty hand and we can’t control a single thing in and of ourselves.

Prayer waits for “the proper time” for God to lift us up.  Waiting for God is humbling for again, we acknowledge that we can’t change anything and must wait for God to.  We must patiently wait for the One who knows the end from the beginning, the infinitely wise one, who knows the absolute perfect time to come riding in to rescue us or supply our need.  He knows the perfect time to answer our prayers. Our affliction won’t last one second longer than he determines.

God tells us to cast all our anxieties on him. Why must we tell God our cares when he already knows them? Because asking is an act of humility, and since God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5), prayer puts us in the position to receive grace.  God so longs to pour out his grace on us he tells us the best way to receive it!

God tells us to cast or anxieties on him “because he cares for you.” When we pray it’s important to remind ourselves that God, the creator of the galaxies, the sustainer of heaven and earth, is deeply concerned for us – individually. I used to think God was so busy running the universe he didn’t have time for my “petty” needs. But I found out that God loves and cares deeply about his children individually.  He knows us by name.  He knows every hair on our heads.  So pray because God cares about you and your anxieties and needs.  If he feeds the sparrows of the field and the ravens that cry out, how much more will he hear the cries of his precious blood-bought children?

Don’t be proud. Don’t try to tough it out and get through life on your own. Humble under the hand of the Almighty who is tenderhearted, sympathetic and generous, and waiting to pour out grace. Cast your anxieties on him and he will lift you up at the proper time.

Why Doesn’t God Answer Prayer The Way I Want?

Blond Boy Crying

Kids have a way of making us consider life and God in a way we’ve often forgotten. It’s so easy to “out grow” the simple but profound questions of childhood. Not long ago I was putting my daughters to bed and we had just such a conversation. (Of course it was at bedtime; they always happen at bedtime.) She’d been working hard at learning math without the ease she wanted, and it caused a theological dilemma.

“Dad, what’s it called when God just does something, like make someone better when they’re sick?”

“A miracle.”

“Yeah! Why isn’t it always like that? Why can’t I pray and then just know math? Sometimes I pray and nothing happens.”

Well then. My eight-year-old put her little finger on a question that will likely stick with her for all of life. It’s the kind of question that can’t be ignored and about which we can’t be apathetic. It’s a question I ask all the time, and it drives people to God or away from Him. Why isn’t God answering my prayer the way I want?

I used to work in retail, and just about every day I would see parents with out of control kids. The child would be running around, yelling, generally acting the fool, and what would the parents do? “If you don’t stop that we’re not getting this toy!” “If you keep that up there will be no French fries for lunch!” What would happen next? The child would, of course, not stop. The parent would, inevitably, buy the toy or the French fries anyhow. They simply couldn’t say “no” to their kids.

In fact, that’s why their kids were out of control. They got whatever they wanted. They could manipulate, strong arm, and generally dominate their parents. One strategic temper tantrum and that Barbie doll was theirs. The kids were in charge.

And that’s what we would be like if God gave us everything we wanted. We would be the spoiled brats kicking and screaming and demanding that God make our lives easy. (A lot of times we act like this even though He doesn’t give us all we want.) And like the spoiled kids we would be worse off for it. We’d be unhealthy. We’d be ungrateful. Just as children don’t know what’s best for them and need parents to provide, so we don’t know what’s best for us and need God. We only know what feels good right now, not what is healthiest, happiest, and most beneficial for all of life.

If we got what we wanted when we wanted it every time we would never learn faith. We would never learn patience. We would never learn diligence and hard work. We would never learn obedience of any kind. It’s easy to think life would be better if we got all we wanted. What that perspective fails to recognize is that it makes us God. To make a demand of God and have it fulfilled is to be in charge of Him. Do we really want a God we can be Lord over? I don’t. I’d screw that up so badly. And so would you.

The Kind of Complaint That’s Pleasing To God

COMPLAIN

I recently had the privilege of speaking to a church in Wales on the topic of thankfulness.

My friend Pete, the pastor of the church told me it was good that I preached on being thankful because he said of the UK, “We’re a nation of professional moaners.” A UK citizen asked the following on Yahoo.Answers: “I’m British right, but I’m getting tired of people in this country moaning & complaining all the time. Why is that?” So maybe they do tend to moan and complain a lot.

But I would submit that all of us – not just Brits – have a tendency to grumble and complain. We regularly mutter things like, “It is way too hot today,” “I can’t believe I have to do this miserable job,” “This traffic is ridiculous,” “This is the most boring class in the universe,” …you get the idea. But we are especially tempted to complain and grumble when we go through hard times and suffering.

Yet Scripture tells us it’s a sin to complain. 1 CO 10:9-10 says:

“We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”

And in Philippians 2:14 God commands:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing.

And Numbers 14 says that when we grumble it is against God:

“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.” NU 14:27

Think about it – when we grumble because it’s raining or too hot, we grumble against the one who creates the weather. When we grouse about our circumstances or pain, we do it against the sovereign, wise and infinitely loving One who designs even our hardships and afflictions for our ultimate good. Yet the Bible tells us there is an acceptable kind of “complaint.” Listen to David:

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him. PS 142:1-2

David wrote this when he was hiding in a cave from Saul, who wanted to kill him. David certainly could have complained to the soldiers who were with him or grumbled to himself. “I can’t believe this madman’s trying to kill me after all I did for him. I can’t believe I have to hide in a cave. I rescued Israel from Goliath and the Philistines and this is the thanks I get.” But instead he turned to God. He cried out and pleaded for mercy. He poured out his “complaint” and told his troubles to God.

It’s ok – no, more than ok – it is good to pour out our struggles before God. We can tell him how hard things are, or how sad we feel. That we don’t understand. We can ask him why this is happening. We can tell him how much we’re hurting, which is what David did in Ps 38:2-8:

For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

God didn’t say, “Buck up David and quit your bellyaching!” God was happy to hear David’s “complaint,” even though God knew full well that David was hurting. God knows every hair on our heads and every twinge of pain we feel. But God didn’t say “David, why are you telling me all this when I already know it?” He gladly heard David’s complaint, and God wants us to pour out our hearts to him. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 he says:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

When we cast our cares on God, we humble ourselves and honor God, by acknowledging our complete need of him and his power to change our situation. We also honor God by saying that despite our circumstances, we believe he is good and he cares for us.

So draw near to God in your affliction. Pour out your complaint before him. Cast your cares on him. Tell the Lord how much you need his help and power. He won’t despise your moans and groans, but will hear with compassion and sympathy and pour out his grace to help in time of need.

Asking God For Too Much? Maybe You’re Asking For Too Little.

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Believers regularly ask God to do great things.  Things that seem impossible.  Like saving certain people who seem light years away from the kingdom.  Or providing when we can’t see any possible way. Most of us even pray for miracles at times.

The only thing is, we often ask for too little.  We should ask God for great things, especially if they will bring him glory.

In Psalm 81:10 God says:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

God says to his people, “Don’t forget who I am – the LORD – the Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth. I own all things and command all things. Whatever I say, goes. I speak and it happens.

Then he says, “I am…your God.” And you are the sheep of my pasture.  I’ve made a covenant with you to be your God. I have a personal interest in you.

Not only am I the LORD and your God, I brought you up out of the land of Egypt. I redeemed you.  Bought you.  I did the impossible to save you.  Broke the back of the most powerful nation on earth and freed you from the cruel grip of Pharaoh. I saved you, parted the Red Sea when there was no way of escape, wiped out your enemies, kept you safe, and provided for you in the desert. And I brought yo inuto a land flowing with milk and honey.

SO….OPEN YOUR MOUTH WIDE, AND I WILL FILL IT. Ask me for big things. Open your mouth as wide as you can – I can handle that. Remember I am your God who redeemed you. If I gave my Son for you do you think I’ll hold back lesser things? You’re not asking for things that are too big. You’re asking for things that are too small.

A mom in our church recently told me her son is doing a summer internship with a company a few hours away, and every single intern had already booked apartments and hooked up with roommates. An apartment came available, but her son couldn’t possibly afford it alone, and there were no more interns to ask to share it. The mom requested prayer that God would provide a roommate. A young lady in our church got back to her and said, “I’m going to pray that God would provide a CHRISTIAN roommate.” The mom told me she was convicted by the young lady’s faith. The mom hadn’t even thought to ask for a Christian roommate. The landscape for roommates had been so bleak she was just hoping for ANY roommate.

You know what’s coming, right? Someone – yes, a previously unlisted intern – posted in the company Facebook page: “I need a roommate and a place to worship.” God answered the young lady’s prayer! He provided not just a roommate, but a Christian roommate. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it!

Our God is rich and generous. He is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).  So ask him for great things. And when you think your request is as big as you can ask, make it even bigger. Open your mouth even wider. We can’t ask too much from the one who redeemed us by the blood of his Son. We can ask too little, but never too much.