by Pastor Tim Burt
I hear from my readers every day and receive prayer requests often. A prayer request I encounter fairly often is the request for prayer from a parent regarding one of their children not walking with the Lord. They learned one of the promises of God as young parent that contributed to shaping their parenting efforts. They clung to that promise trusting God that it would be come to pass in the life of their children—“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it?” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) They did their best to raise their children to know and love the Lord, but now struggle as they watch their adult children seem to go astray from the life of Christ they grew up and were raised in. That is a promise of God and one that our faith must stick firm to despite what we see our children doing!
As children become young adults and enter into the world without you by their side, they are amongst the non-religious, atheists, and lovers of false gods. Each of those people has their own personal view of God and eagerly challenge the belief system of Christians. The debates go back and forth but, truth be told, most young adult Christians are not prepared with the answers to support the kinds of questions that come at them. They can end up feeling foolish and realize that they don’t even really know what they believe, and why. They have grown up in your faith but don’t really have their belief systems down for themselves. And this is where many derail!
Every individual needs to experience the Lord for his or herself—including your children. You may be like Renee and I. We know our children had real experiences in the Lord growing up. We began training them as toddlers. As teenagers, they would often share their hearts on scripture, reflecting powerfully anointed thoughts that ministered to our hearts. Renee and I would often rejoice in prayer, thanking God for the things He was teaching them.
As they grew up and launched out as adults on their own, they had to come to grips with owning their own faith. Preach at your adult children and they’ll pull back from you. If you don’t want to push them away, then you better let them come to their own faith in Jesus. When our children became adults, they were no longer under our direct parental authority. They would now make their own life-decisions. They would have to make decisions about their faith and what they believed. They were challenged and sometimes mocked by their peers in college or worldly associates in the workplace who had no faith in God. That’s part of their growing up process. They would have to learn to live for the Lord from their own volition.
Oh the challenges of the parent who has to watch their adult child go through the stage of figuring out what they believe. You no longer have the right or say in their life that you did when they were younger and growing up under your guidance. You should have relinquished all efforts of control over when they became adults. It’s at this stage, that you give them back to the Lord knowing that they know belong to Him. It’s time for the new season of developing a real friendship with them, the same as you would with anyone else. (Hopefully, you started the beginning of that transition when they were in their mid-teens.) It’s only in the development of a real adult-child friendship that they will listen to you without shutting you out. If you treat them as children, preaching or condemning or trying to direct their life, they will shut you out. They are adults. They belong to God now! Of course it’s difficult to see them make wrong choices or decisions. Again, developed a true parent-friendship with them and they they just might let you share the advice they might desperately need. My son did when he bought his first house and it saved him from serious mistakes. But I was like a gentle friend, not an obnoxious father. We do this because God does this with us.
Welcome to God’s world. He feels the same way about us, yet He doesn’t interfere or manipulate us. (If you’ve been told He does, you’ve been told wrong.) He doesn’t want us to make wrong choices. He wants us to draw near to Him, seek His counsel, and walk in His grace and guidance. Wouldn’t that be awesome if your adult children wanted your thoughts and advice? In healthy adult relationships, that can happen. Yet, sometimes you just do your own thing. And so do your children! That is where consequences are learned!
So. all this begs for the question, Is there anything you can do to help my children draw closer to God? Absolutely! I’ll give you four things in my next post, Part Two: Will My Adult Children Walk With God?
For today, don’t look back and let the devil condemn you for any perceived failures. That will accomplish nothing. Instead do this one thing. Since they do belong to God, the part of your parenting that will always stay perfectly intact is your life-long assignment to pray for them. Knowing that they belong to Him, pray this simple prayer to God every day with faith and conviction. Dear Lord, my children belong to you now. Though I may wish I could have done more, I pray that you keep them in your hands. Your promise says my children will be taught of you. I pray that you will reach into their lives and teach them daily in all the ways you can so that their peace in you may be great. In Jesus name. Amen!
Isaiah 54:13 (NKJV) “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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