I sat down on Day One, opened my copy of Praying for Boys, and wept.
The thought that something God had done for me—a way His grace had intersected my life during one of my greatest struggles—was now helping thousands of other moms lift up their sons was just overwhelming.
The life circumstances that Praying for Boys was born out of still stagger me. We lost six family members and friends in six years, and our two boys—born just 23 months apart—came to us in that same season. That they were of the hard-to-handle variety just made the odds of me winning mother of the year go down exponentially. I’m an introvert, they’re both extroverts. The rubs were just everywhere, and all of it, all put together kept, me on my knees.
I didn’t ask to be a prayer warrior. My life just made any other means of survival impossible.
“My prayer ministry didn’t come to me because I worked for it or aspired to it. It didn’t come because I had all the right answers or knew an abundance of Scripture by heart.
I pray because I don’t have all the answers. I pray because I’m lost and can’t see the big picture. I pray because I’m desperate for a word-touch from the God who made me and because I can’t do this life thing without His direction. I pray because I don’t know how to raise these two boys to be the godly men I dream they will be, but I serve the God who does.
Believing that has changed my life.” (Praying for Boys, 22).
I hope it has changed yours, too.
If you experienced a touch of God’s grace during this month of prayer, we would love to hear about it. Maybe God worked a miracle in your home. Maybe He turned a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Maybe something got a bit better. Or maybe what God did the most was touch your own heart and transform the way you look at and pray for your home.
Whatever God did, we would love to hear it.
Let’s all encourage each other today by sharing how the power of God has worked through our prayers. If you’re a blogger, we’ve provided a link-up for you below. Feel free to write a post on how the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons Challenge impacted your family and share it here (and grab one of the buttons for your blog post below).
If you’re not a blogger, grace us with your story in the comments! Thank you SO much for joining us in this prayer challenge. Our prayer is that the seeds of faith that were planted during this month will take root and blossom into a full-grown, beautiful garden of prayer in your life.
(Please grab a blog button and link your posts back here).
…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your hear that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9 (NASB)
I prayed for a lot of things as a child. One of the most important was my grandpa. Raised in a pastor’s home, he decided at a young age that he wanted nothing to do with his parents’ faith. His dad died before I was born, his mom when I was very young, but I heard stories about them—and about their prayers. They were examples of ‘pray without ceasing,’ praying for their children and grandchildren and generations not yet born. Others picked up the torch when they were gone—my grandma, my parents, me—but our prayers seemed to hit the ceiling and bounce back with no results.
THE GREATEST THING
Years later, I was married and had my first son when my grandpa learned he needed heart surgery. He went to church with my grandma and my parents the Sunday before his surgery. I sat in our church, hours away, and told God, “The greatest thing would be for Mom to call and say, ‘Guess what?’’
After church that morning, my phone rang. Through tears, my mom said, “Amanda, I just had to call and tell you—guess what?” Tears streamed down my face. I already knew. All those prayers were finally answered…my grandpa had accepted Christ.
My grandpa’s salvation was one of the greatest moments of my life. It’s been more than ten years. He’s still serving God, and I still tear up when I tell that story. I learned so much about faithfulness and persistence in prayer. But I learned something else: a mother’s prayers matter.
My grandpa wasn’t the only one who needed Jesus. When his parents died, not a single one of their three boys was saved. Over the course of more than forty years, all three of the brothers accepted Christ. Then their children got saved. Then the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many of whom were not even born when my great-grandparents were praying. The desperate prayers of a momma were answered.
My two boys are growing up much too quickly. I want to freeze time, keep them this age just a little longer, but I can’t. My husband and I teach them the Bible. We teach them to follow God’s Word and do what’s right. We set the best example we can. But the scariest part of parenting is how little control we actually have over their lives and their decisions. Ultimately, they have to decide to follow God for themselves. In a world that slips further from God every day, that’s scary—and the time is coming, all too soon, when they will face it on their own, as adults.
I have to fight this battle in prayer. I can’t protect them from everything. I’m not able to make their decisions for them. I won’t be there to shield them from every temptation. But I can cover them in prayer and put them in God’s hands. His hands are so much bigger than mine. He can do what I can’t. So I pray, because I’ve seen the power of a praying mother, and it lasts far beyond a lifetime.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Have you made it a habit to pray for the salvation of your son?
How has this study changed the way you pray for him so far?
Throughout the day, pray the ten scripture prayers found at the end of the Salvation chapter in Praying for Boys!
Amanda Holland is a pastor’s wife, mom to two boys and a Yorkie, writer, and dental hygienist. She lives in Texas with her family and enjoys cooking, horseback riding, running, and getting lost in a good book. She blogs at Grace In Our Moments and is a contributor to Sleuths and Suspects. Her writing has appeared on numerous websites, including Inspired to Action, Million Praying Women, and The MOB Society. Her fiction has appeared in Splickety Love and Splickety Prime magazines.
“May (our sons) be kind to others, tenderhearted, and forgiving others as You in Christ forgave him.”
Ruth Bell Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” You could easily replace the word marriage with pretty much any relationship and the quote would still ring true. Life is about being a good forgiver. If we wrote someone off every time they did something that needed to be forgiven, we would quickly find ourselves isolated and lonely. In a culture that commonly says, “Forget them!” instead of trying to work through issues and forgive, how can we teach our sons that forgiveness is a worthwhile and necessary practice?
CHOOSING OUR WORDS
I’m a firm believer in using appropriate labels with children especially when it comes to building character or reinforcing Biblical attributes in their lives. When my son grabs a toy from his sister without asking, it’s stealing. When my daughter disrespects me with her words, we call it disrespect, but we also talk about it as ‘not honoring to her mom.’ When I confront my son for playing Lego instead of getting ready for bed as I had asked, he is chided for disobedience instead of “not listening to mom.” From a young age my children have been exposed to the words obedience, honor, disrespect, disobedience, and yes, forgiveness.
STARTING THEM EARLY
My son is only nineteen months younger than his sister. I don’t think either of them ever remember being a lone child and they are the best of friends. As an incredibly verbal youngsters, we started teaching both of them to say, “I forgive you” quite early on. If he got into a scuffle with his sister over a toy or with another child, we’d lead him through apologizing and asking for forgiveness or offering forgiveness depending on the situation.
This is important because it helps our sons recognize that they did something wrong and as such, they are in need of forgiveness–which only the injured party can grant. This also emphasizes that their actions, even seemingly minor ones like stealing a toy, carry consequences involve and affect other humans. A common reaction when a child has said I’m sorry, is for the other child to merely say, “OK.” While an acknowledgement of confession is appreciated, it does nothing to rectify the relationship. “I forgive you” involves action from both children.
This teaches both parties that relationships are more important that our own hurt feelings and as such we can strive, as much as it depends on us, to maintain healthy relationships. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to talk with another mom about why we say, “I forgive you” after my children apologize because they are so used to other children merely responding with an “Okay”. Just a simple change of vocabulary can open up opportunities to share the Gospel.
Using Gospel-centered speech also prepares our children as they begin to ask questions about the Gospel. Offering and requesting forgiveness readies their hearts for one day asking forgiveness from Christ and receiving it through their belief in His death and resurrection.
A LIFELONG PRACTICE
The first time I walked my daughter through this kind of exchange, I know she didn’t fully understand the concept of forgiveness. Goodness, as a mother of five I don’t understand forgiveness, but I do understand this–it is a lifelong practice.Jesus reminds us that we are to forgive seventy times seven times. A basic calculator will tell us that equals 490, but I don’t think that was his point.
Jesus was eluding to the practice of forgiveness. Some offenses will be deep. One that comes to mind immediately is my own divorce and the circumstances surrounding it. These devastating wounds were soul deep and yet I’m still called to forgive. I’m sure you can think of an offense in your own life that can’t simply be washed away with the words, “I forgive you.” Though I’ve forgiven my ex-husband, there are days when I still wake up angry with a list of wrongs dealt to me both old and new, fresh on my lips. It’s in those moments that I must, PRACTICE forgiveness. I must consciously say the words, “I forgive you.” Every time I walk my son through the motions of forgiveness now, I reiterate its importance and its necessity so later he will be able to practice forgiveness even when it hurts. My hope would be that he learns to be quick to forgive and eager to repair a relationship.
Throughout our lives and the lives of our children, we will be called to forgive. Again and again and again. We will be hurt many times in this life. Our children will be wounded deeply. Some hurts will be superficial…a harsh word, a nasty look. Others will cut deeply and leave scars that take years to heal. I know we wish we could protect our children from these, but maybe we can do the next best thing. Instead of teaching them to harbor their hurt and resentment, we can teach them to set others free and in doing so, be freed themselves.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Is there an area in your life that you’ve had to practice forgiving continuously?
Is there anything you do regularly that helps solidify the importance of forgiveness in the life of your sons?
Throughout the day, pray the ten scripture prayers found at the end of the Forgiveness chapter in Praying for Boys!
Kristina never thought that the title ‘single mom’ would follow her name, but now that it does she writes about navigating life in this unexpected season. A native New Yorker who despises precipitation of any kind, she works as an American Sign Language Interpreter and writes about her adventures with her four daughters and one son. Her life is rarely boring.
May we give a soft answer, which turns away wrath, and avoid harsh words, which stir up anger. ~ Proverbs 15:1
A couple months ago I attended a Women’s Conference with other ladies from my church. One of the ladies in attendance has, in the past, been difficult for me to love (my sinful heart speaking here). I was anticipating the weekend being hard. On the other hand, I know God can transform hearts and I was looking forward to what God was going to do in me as he transformed me more into His image.
Within moments of arriving at the conference this sister in Christ spoke harshly to me and then said hurtful things two more times in the next day. Needless to say I was hurting and feeling vulnerable.
MY FIRST MISTAKE
When she asked to talk to me the next day I was defensive and expecting more of what I’d experienced the previous few days. Assuming what she was going to say instead of letting God work was my first mistake. The conversation started out on a sour note because I conveyed I was hurting and had tried talking to her about it earlier without any success. She adamantly denied my position and I felt she wasn’t letting me talk so I spat out, “Shut up and let me talk,” which only added fuel to the fire of misunderstanding and hurt.
I found out later she was trying to apologize for how she’d hurt me over the weekend. Because I let anger rule my heart instead of grace I damaged a precious friendship. We have since reconciled and are moving forward relying on God to help us love each other as He loves us!
God has been convicting me of my harsh words many times, particularly in the last couple years. I’ve prayed, asking him to help me speak peacefully to my kids and my friends. I’ve read books on anger. I’ve asked friends to pray for me and hold me accountable. But I really didn’t want to change! I enjoyed feeling hurt and reacting in anger. When a friend or one of my kids hurt me or inconvenienced me it felt good to yell at them or hurt them in return. Due to struggles with migraines and anemia I was tired A LOT and I blamed my anger on that. I felt entitled to being angry or to speak harshly because my family should know I’m feeling bad. They should treat me special and cater to me.
I really don’t think that’s how God wants me to act and think. His Son, Jesus, set the example for me to serve not BE served. When He was oppressed He didn’t open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7). That’s how I should respond when I’m hurt or tired and am tempted to get angry–with humility, with calmness, and a quiet answer. I still speak harshly to my children or my husband or my friends on occasion but the Holy Spirit strengthens me and empowers me to treat my friends and family with respect, quietness, and grace.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Have you ever experienced times when you just didn’t care if your emotions were under control?! I’d love to hear your story! My dear sisters, you are being prayed for today as you battle anger in yourself or in your children.
Throughout the day, pray the ten scripture prayers found at the end of the Anger chapter in Praying for Boys!
Jen is an “over the hill” home school mom to 4 elementary age kids ages 6-12 and the wife to a California dude for almost 16 years. She grew up in Southwest Virginia and loves living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to her “jobs” as mom, wife, daughter, and friend, she also works very part time as a Nurse Sonographer at the local pregnancy center. Her hobbies include reading, playing with her 4 blessings, and quilting. She also blogs at http://blessedwithfour.weebly.com/.
For the first 10 years of my marriage, my husband hid a secret sin.
He struggled with pornography and I had no idea. While I was busy with babies and then toddlers and juggling a part time job, managing our home and laundry and you know, life–he was fighting a hellish private battle.
Fear kept him in a quiet prison.
He was terrified if he admitted his struggle, he would lose his family. I was the proverbial good girl, a rhinestone Jesus pin-wearing wife who would be destroyed by his struggle. Although he would succumb to temptation in his weakest moments, he never stopped fighting. He also kept quiet. When we had a son, things changed. My husband didn’t want this cycle to continue. In a desperate move, he decided he wanted freedom more than he wanted anything else. He confessed. And it destroyed me.
But broken things heal stronger. And sometimes starting over is better than never finishing. We began the long road to healing, reconciliation and redemption.
The moment he spoke the shameful words, he had his first taste of freedom. Because that’s what happens when we shine the light on darkness. It scatters. And with every word, through counseling and tears and long talks and resources, he experienced freedom like he didn’t think possible.
He said yes to freedom. He said yes to honesty. It’s changed the way he fathers his son. It’s changed the way I mother our children. Because there is nothing too shameful, too secret, too horrible, that God cannot heal. God has used this brokenness and we are raising our son differently because of it. Instead of pretending like our 12 year old son won’t be tempted some day, we proactively educate him about self control. Saying these things out loud–talking about these private issues has created an atmosphere of honesty in our home; no subject is taboo or off-limits.
Because nothing my son does will make us stop loving him. Even his sin. But silence shackles us.
My husband’s biggest regret all these years later? That he stayed silent for so long. He has said over and over, if I had known how freeing it would be to speak it out loud, I would have. I would have said yes to God sooner.
Here are 4 Ways To Encourage Honesty and Self-Control With Our Sons:
Be honest with them. My husband is just beginning to share his story with our son. Our boys need to know we have struggles, we sin. We need forgiveness.
Be open about hot topics. If we don’t talk to our boys about sex, pornography, girls, someone else will.
Be forgiving. Our kids are as human as we are–create an atmosphere of forgiveness.
Be vigilant. Our sons are growing up in a world much different than we did. There isn’t the restraint we once had over these issues. It’s not only available, it seeks our sons out. Don’t be afraid to explain to your son why you have Internet passwords and monitored screen time.
Our fourth son made his debut just weeks ago. We now have boys who are 16, 5, 3, and freshly born. I was sitting on the sofa nursing our infant when my teenager came in upset about something. I automatically replied in a quiet peaceful tone as a result of holding a newborn baby at the same time. Surprisingly, this situation did not escalate like it normally would have in the history of our intense mother/son relationship.
THE TURNING POINT
When did I turn the point from gentleness to explosiveness? At what moment did I decide that our child was old enough to endure a good loud argument verses the gentle response I had just given him? This verse, “A gentle answer turns away wrath…,” is one of the few I have memorized, yet why do I not follow its wisdom?
What God spoke to my heart while intentionally praying and considering what gentleness really means, is best understood by reading the Greek definition of the word: Gentleness = Power with reserve. As parents, we have the capability to overpower our children by yelling, screaming and using physical force as a response to misbehavior. True power comes when you are able to reserve your fleshly response and give them what they really need–gentleness.
NOT MY FIRST REACTION
Quite honestly, gentleness is not my first reaction to intense moments with my sons. Whether it is my teen that is in an argumentative mood or my younger sons who I have just told to stop wrestling for the fifth time in a row. Screaming at the top of my lungs to overpower the situation is what comes naturally. I hate to admit this, but being gentle in those situations takes a lot of work! I would not be able to do it without the help of the Holy Spirit. When you withhold wrath and display gentleness you have truly exercised power with reserve.
Think back to when your child was in infant and he would cluster feed every forty-five minutes for hours on end. You’re so exhausted that you don’t think you could endure even one more feeding and yet, we wouldn’t scream at that innocent infant to get him to submit to our needs. No, we gently pace the floor, we console, we rock, we pat them on the back, and we take as much time as is necessary to get through it. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 it says, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.”
Jesus displayed the ultimate act of reserving power when He died on the cross for us. We deserved death, but he chose to die on the cross for us instead. The ultimate act of gentleness. Once we are able to display gentleness towards our children, they will begin display gentleness in their own situations.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Think of three or four places or situations where your boy needs to practice more gentleness. Talk to him about how he can be more gentle in each situation.
Janelle is a wife and stay at home mom of 4 who blogs at Queen of the House of Boys. James & Janelle own a business called Integrity Cleaning and Restoration. She is a pastor’s wife and praise and worship leader. Janelle recently retired as a retail store owner to fully embrace her calling as a mother. Bringing people together is one of Janelle’s gifts. Whether it is managing an online support group, or organizing mentors for new families in her children’s school. Janelle loves decorating, diy projects, cooking, and hosting gatherings. She loves learning and practicing the true Biblical meaning of hospitality. Cleaning is her nemesis.