6 Ways to Pray When Your Child Goes Astray
by Cindi McMenamin
July 21st, 2016

How do you trust God and not worry when you see your child start spiraling downward?

How can you know when to say something and when to let your child work it out?

How can you trust that God ultimately has "good" in mind when it all looks so bad?

While writing my book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom,  I discovered that one of the most intense concerns a mother has for her children, apart from her concerns for their physical safety, is her concern for their spiritual condition. We fear our children will turn their backs on their faith and all they were taught and needlessly stumble through life.

That situation can not only be fearful, it can make us feel helpless, too.

I asked hundreds of moms to share with me their secret to maintaining hope for a wayward child, even if the situation looks hopeless. Their answer is always the same. Their hope is in God, not their child, and God's ability to turn that child's heart back toward home.

Here is how you can maintain hope while praying for your child who has gone astray:

1.      Pray Scripture over them

Janice, who witnessed her daughter self destruct into drugs and a dangerous lifestyle for several years, saw God turn her daughter’s heart around. But, she said, her only comfort during the season of her daughter's rebellion was praying Scripture over her daughter. Isaiah 49:16 was especially encouraging to her.

                        "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
                        your walls are ever before me."

While that verse prophetically refers to the nail prints in Jesus' hands, it symbolizes to us that Jesus knew each and every person by name, that He would die for and those nail prints were like an engraved name on His hand.

2.      Pray by focusing on God’s character  

One mom whose son went AWOL during his term in the military said she found comfort and hope in God’s Word, especially the verses that talk about God’s character.

"One of the most prevalent Scriptures I have prayed over my son is Psalm 139 - what peace knowing that God is there with him in the dark, in the light, waking up, going to sleep, going out, coming in."

 From Psalm 139 alone, we can be encouraged knowing that God is One who knows our child’s every thought and action and whereabouts (verses 1-12),  wrote their life story out in His book before they even lived (verses 13-16), and is the One who convicts our children of their offenses and leads them in the right direction (verse 24).

Read all of Psalm 139 and be encouraged by it. That Psalm reminds us that God is more intimately acquainted with our child than we will ever be. And that He is tracking their whereabouts when we can't.

3.      Pray for your child to discern God's voice

A mom of six children told me “I always pray for God to be loud to my children.”

Children will hear our voices in their heads. And they may try to shut out that voice at times if their hearts are hardened. Children will also hear their friends' and peers' voices, and the voice of the enemy seeking to lead them astray. But we want God's voice – the voice of His Holy Spirit – to be louder than anyone else's voice.

Insert your child's name in this prayer and pray it often:

            "Lord, help ____________ to listen to what You say, and to treasure Your commands. Tune _______________'s ears to wisdom, and help _____________ concentrate on understanding (Proverbs 2:1-2, NLT). Instruct ______________in the way of wisdom and lead ________________ along straight paths (Proverbs 4:11). 

4. Pray for wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent

 There will come a time when your words will fall on deaf ears, but God's never will. Pray for wisdom so you know when to speak, and what to speak, and when to be silent so God can speak. James 1:5 tells us: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Scripture also exhorts us to be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for anger doesn't bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:19).

5.      Praise God for what you don't yet see

First Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us: "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Thank God often for something in your child’s life that you wouldn’t ordinarily be thankful for, as a way of trusting His work in your child's life. It’s also a way of acknowledging that He’s in control and a tangible way of waiting expectantly for God to come through.

6.      Pray for their eventual return

Insert your child’s name into the following verses as a way of praying for their heart condition and return to God’s loving arms: 

            "Create in _________________ a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within him/her (Psalm 51:10). Though you have made ______________ see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore ____________'s life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring _____________ up. You will increase ________________'s honor and comfort ____________ once again (Psalm 71:20-21). Thank You that Your word says I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate ___________ from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

As we surrender our children to God through prayer, we can trust that they are in His hands and He'll do whatever work He wants to do in them, and in us, for His glory. We can worry, or we can pray. We can stress, or we can trust. We can lose sleep by trying to control their every step. Or we can rest in the One who is already in control of their lives whether they are acting like it or not. 

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 15 books including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You

More of Cindi McMenamin : http://www.strengthforthesoul.com/