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The Christmas I Learned How To Pray For My Children: A Holiday Story For Parents

The clarity of the voice was unmistakable. The message was not open to interpretation. God said, "Pray now. Now." When God assigns us a task, it is best to obey without hesitation and reflect on it later. This single act of obedience has transformed my life, my children's lives, and my connection with God eternally. I invite you to read and enjoy this Christmas story from my years as a young mother.

Before I begin the story, I want to make it clear that this is a 100% truthful retelling of my encounter with God. There is no explanation for it beyond the supernatural work of Almighty God choosing to reach out to a young mother. I was only 24 years old. I had two very young children, ages two and three years, and I was carrying the heavy weight of problems brought on by my own poor decisions.

In those years, I sought God whenever and wherever He could be found. For about three years I had been reading my Bible faithfully and eagerly, actively engaging in worship, and practicing ever-deepening times of prayer. Little did I know that I would encounter God Almighty, El Shaddai, sitting on the floor beside a dimly lit Christmas tree in the tiny living room of our small apartment in rural North Carolina.

By December of 1985, I had learned to find joy in small things: the presence of my children, cooking simple meals and reading aloud from borrowed library books. Our apartment was warm and cozy. It felt snug when I was cuddled with my little ones singing songs or reading stories. In some ways, this was as simple as my life has ever been.

Christmas was coming and, in preparation, I had purchased a tree. There were some white lights to put on it and decorations that were, mostly, homemade or gathered from the outdoors. In the late afternoon and into the early evening of the day I decided to decorate the tree, the children and I were enjoying the act of preparing for Christmas. We were glad that it was Christmas and glad to be together.

My little son, Christian, was two and a half years old. When he grew too tired to continue, I stopped and put him in his bed. He was very soon asleep. My little daughter, Courtney, was older. She would be four years old in only two months and she was enjoying the decorating process. So when Christian was in bed, she was allowed to stay up and continue the Christmas fun. She placed and replaced each decoration several times until all were in exactly the right place and just where she wanted them.

My heart was full of the joy of spending this time with my little girl. I imagined how many more years of decorating for Christmas we would share. It was such a wonderful moment; as fragile as bone china and as beautiful as cut crystal. I was gloriously happy. I was determined to remember this hour for the rest of my life. And I have.

When the last decoration was on the tree and all were placed to Courtney's satisfaction, I turned off the overhead light in the room and plugged in the white lights of the tree. The result was truly lovely to look at. "Oh! Mama!" gasped Courtney. "This is so pretty it makes me want to pray!" (Only very little children say things like that...maybe grownups should remember how to react that way) "Well then, " I responded, "Let's pray." We knelt.


I was listening to Courtney and praying silently beside her when, suddenly, I heard nothing except for one firm voice calling to my heart and mind. "Pray for your son's wife." The voice said. I knew immediately that the voice was God's. "What? My son's what?" I asked. "Lord, my son is a baby. He is asleep right now." (I don't know why I added that last observation. It strikes me as funny now.) "Pray for your son's wife. Pray now. Now." The voice was firm. Almost stern. The command was a clear imperative. God repeated it.

After what may have been an hour or may have been ten seconds, I accepted what God was saying. It had never crossed my mind to pray for something or someone as distant as the woman who would be married to my two-year-old son. But as I began to pray for this, the concept expanded in my mind. I began to try to visualize who that faraway person could be. She grew real in my heart.

I became lost in the prayer. I prayed for every aspect of her life as it came into my mind. It occurred to me that she was a baby roughly the same age as Christian. I asked God to heal her if she were sick, or see her safely delivered if her mother was laboring to give her birth. I prayed for her family to be filled with love and stability. When at last I said "Amen." Courtney was sitting beside me looking at the tree. She was tired now, and I put her to bed.

I was deep in thought as I tucked Courtney in. I knew then that I would never again pray with or for my children the way I had up until then. From that night forward we did away with any rhyming or recited prayers. We spoke to God as the One who came to our living room at Christmas. We spoke to Him as the One who knows everything about our lives.

In addition to these changes in perspective, we prayed every single night for nearly twenty more years for the people who would one day be my children's life partners.

I met Erica in the spring of 2004, and she and Christian were married two years later. They now have eleven-year-old twins and are as happy and comfortable together as any two people can be. It was a match made in Heaven.

Several years ago I asked her parents what was going on in their lives in December of 1985. You see, Erica was born two months after God called me to pray for her and I wondered if the pregnancy was at risk. They can't recall anything special. I suppose we'll find out at another time. Perhaps something that Satan had planned was hindered by the power of prayer. No power rattles the gates of hell like a mother's prayer.

When you pray for your children, remember that God is listening. He wants and needs you to pray for your little ones. Ask God how He wants you to pray. He will tell you. If God can call out to me, He absolutely can call out to you. Here are a few ways to begin to hear God more clearly.

  1. Be open to His voice. There is a God who desires to be a real presence in your life as well as in the lives of your children. Trust His words and strive to deepen your trust in Him every day. God can effortlessly enter a tender and receptive heart. So, open your heart to Him.

  2. Read the Bible often and eagerly. There is no substitute for diving into the authoritative Word of God. This is often how He speaks to us. So, commit for three weeks to read your Bible every day for ten to twenty minutes. If you are like me, those minutes will become a time you look forward to, and your three-week commitment will become a lifetime habit.

  3. Pray from your heart and pray aloud. Remember to pray when you have some free time and are not occupied with any other tasks. Focused prayer is a different experience than praying while you work, drive, or exercise. So, set aside time to pray and let go of everything else. Pray for what is in your heart, and pray aloud with and for your children no matter how old they are. Pray from the first hour they are in your arms until the day you take your last breath.

You may be wondering about Courtney's husband. We prayed for him as well and he arrived in 2019. As with Erica, I recognized Jacob as soon as we met. There he was. The one I had prayed for. He is a fine man who cares for and loves my daughter so well. They live happily together. Remember that your children will be young for such a short time.

Pray now for their adult years.

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