Praying Big for Your Kids
About the Guest
Are you praying on behalf of your son or daughter? Pastor Will Davis, along with his wife Susie, talk about being honest with God and asking Him to intervene on behalf of their children. Hear how they’ve entrusted their children to God, and how they’ve prayed with them and for them over the years.
Will and Susie DavisWill Davis Jr. (DMin, Southwestern Seminary) is the founding and senior pastor of Austin Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Pray Big, Pray Big for Your Marriage, Pray Big for Your Child, Why Faith Makes Sense, and 10 Things Jesus Never Said. An avid hiker, mountain-biker, and water-skier, Davis and his wife, Susie, have three children and live in Austin, Texas.
Are you praying on behalf of your son or daughter?
Praying Big for Your Kids
Will: My kids hear me pray most frequently that they love the Word of God, that they will hate sin, and that they will love to pray. I pray it almost every single day.
Psalm 119 is my starting chapter. I pray that they will hide God’s Word in their heart and it will be a lamp to their feet and a light to their path. It is a great place to start; and if it is all that I do, that is all that they hear, then I have succeeded.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We are going to talk about moms and dads praying BIG for their children today.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Again today, before we get into talking about praying together as a couple for our kids in particular, we want to spend some time today encouraging moms and dads, husbands and wives, to get in the Word and get your family in the Word. We are hoping in 2010 that families will be a little more purposeful about spending time in God’s Word. We are using the verses that are found at the beginning of each daily devotional in the devotional guide that you and your wife, Barbara, have written, Moments With You, as our jumping-off point. What is the January 5th verse?
Dennis: Well, it is a convicting verse. I almost hate to read it in a way because it just gets me—James 1:19. Anybody out there know what it is?
Bob: I know what it is.
Dennis: “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” If there was a verse in the Bible that was written for marriages and families, James 1:19 is it. I don’t think I need to comment! I mean, what else do we need to do other than focus on this?—be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Now talk about that tonight around the dinner table, either as a couple or as a family. How can your family practice this? Maybe hold one another accountable to do this in your marriage or in your family.
Bob: Again, our hope is that throughout the year you and your family will be more purposeful and more intentional about spending time together in God’s Word. We are going to keep reinforcing that theme as we move along here during the month of January.
Now I also want to quickly mention that this week and next week we are encouraging listeners to contact us and take advantage of a special offer we are making for FamilyLife Today listeners to attend a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage conference this spring. Buy one registration and get a second registration free. Basically, when you buy your own registration, your spouse comes absolutely free. So it is buy one; get one free. It is this week and next week only. It is for FamilyLife Today listeners. If you want to take advantage of this; or if you want more information about the Weekend to Remember, go to familylifeweekend.com.
All the information about the conferences can be found on our website. You can get information about the conference in Washington, D.C.—the Valentine’s weekend that Dennis is going to be speaking at, along with his wife, Barbara; or get information about the conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where I am going to be speaking that same weekend at the Hershey lodge or any other conferences that are coming up this spring.
When you sign up for one of these conferences this week or next week and you identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener, if you buy one registration, the second registration is free. Here is how you identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener. If you are registering online, type my name—type “Bob”—in the key code box; and we will automatically calculate your savings when you check out or call 1-800-FLTODAY. When you register over the phone, mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today. You can say, “Bob sent me,” or something like that. They will get you registered and you will qualify for the buy one; get one free FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners. It is good this week and next week only so go ahead and contact us and then plan to join us for a Weekend to Remember.
Now we are going to talk about praying together as a couple today—praying specifically for our children. I am curious. I know you and your wife, Barbara, have prayed together throughout your marriage. You have made it a daily discipline and have rarely missed a day when the two of you have not prayed together. Do you think you have spent more time praying about your marriage, or you praying for Barbara, or do you think you have spent more time together praying for your kids?
Dennis: Probably our kids. Looking back on it, issues they are facing. There are six of them…
Bob: Right. (laughter)
Dennis: So, I guess… (laughter)
Susie: Numbers alone
Will: Statistically, that’s pretty much a slam-dunk. (laughter)
Susie: It works. (laughter)
Dennis: There are just a lot of needs surrounding that, you know. We didn’t wait many years, actually only two, before we started having children. We were in the process of having children for almost 30 years.
Bob: Pray more fervently and passionately for issues with your kids than you have for Barbara? I guess it depends on what the issue is. When Barbara’s heart was racing, you were praying hard for her.
Dennis: Yes. Various things we have faced as a couple—her praying for me and me praying for her. Yes, I think it would be a fair answer to the question. What about you?
Bob: I think it is the case for most parents. I mean, we are raising kids from a state of helplessness to maturity. There is a lot of praying along the way as those kids go through all those developmental stages.
Dennis: They need parents praying for them.
Bob: Praying BIG.
Dennis: Praying BIG. We have a couple here, Will and Susie Davis, who know how to pray BIG. Will, Susie, welcome back.
Susie: Thank you.
Will: Hello. Thanks for having us.
Dennis: Will is a pastor in Austin, Texas: that is because Longhorns need the church. (laughter)
Will: This is true. Amen. I agree.
Dennis: We have a mutual friend, Todd Nagel, who is orange. He is just orange.
Will: He is very orange.
Dennis: He is very orange. You went to Baylor; so you are not into orange.
Will: Not into orange. I love Austin, love the Horns, but I’m a Baylor Bear.
Dennis: Was this where you learned to pray BIG? (laughter)
Will: When you are a Baylor fan, every football victory is a miracle. Yes, you pray BIG when you go to Baylor.
Dennis: You are a pastor. You and Susie have three children. You have, undoubtedly, prayed often and prayed BIG for your children. Before we talk about praying BIG for your children, explain the concept of what it means to pray BIG.
Will: Praying BIG is praying the kind of prayers that Jesus teaches in the Lord’s Prayer. They are specific; they are focused; and they require faith. I picture Zachariah and Elizabeth.
Zachariah is in the temple. He is the father-to-be of John the Baptist—He doesn’t know it yet. He is doing his work in the temple there, and an angel shows up and says, “Your prayers have been answered. You are going to have a baby.” Remember she is beyond child-bearing years. She is barren. They have never had kids. You go, “Time out! Were they actually praying for a son? That is big, hairy, bold, and audacious—not something they can do. I think they got their inspiration from Abraham and Sarah. They knew the story of God giving a child to a couple who couldn’t have it. So they prayed for a miracle, and God gave them one.
Bob: Of course the funny part of the story is that as soon as the angel shows up and says, “You are going to have a son.”
Will: He gets in trouble.
Bob: Zachariah says, “Well, how can this be?” (laughter)
Will: How can he do that? And he had been praying for it!
Bob: He was praying BIG.
Will: He had been praying for it.
Dennis: Well, the story of Peter. Peter is imprisoned. There is a prayer meeting for Peter. (knocking)
Will: He knocked incessantly on the door. “Let me in!”
Dennis: “Let me in; let me in!” “It can’t be you, Peter. We’re praying for you.”
Will: It can’t be you. Get back in jail where you are supposed to be.” (laughter)
Dennis: That is right! That is the way we are in our prayers, though. Even in our efforts to believe, we are feeble. We are weak.
Will: The kingdom of God is a real deal. We are living in the kingdom—He is building His kingdom in us right now. Prayer, I believe, is the currency of God’s kingdom. It is how we get things done. It is the transactional power in the kingdom of God. I have to work; but most of all, I have to pray. I am trying to raise kingdom kids. I’m trying to raise, not just good citizens, not great soccer players, I’m trying to raise men and women in my home who love Jesus and build His kingdom. I cannot do that without prayer. It is impossible.
Bob: You tell a story in your book about a little girl Mariah who was in the sixth grade. Her mom figured out how to pray BIG for her, right?
Will: We know Mariah quite well. She was having panic attacks. She was on antidepressants and she was a day or two away from being put in the psychiatric hospital.
Susie: And she was only like 12.
Will: She was middle school at best. They couldn’t keep her in school. On the last day they dropped her off in school before they were going to pull her out and commit her and her mom through up one of those prayers “Oh, God. Help my child survive the day” kind of prayers. We’ve all prayed them. Her mother felt the Holy Spirit saying right then, is that the best you can do? Is that really all you can ask for is for your child to survive? And she said, okay fine. I want my child to prevail. I want my child to be healed of this and to get back to health and have a great day and a great year.
Six hours later Mariah comes out and she had had a pretty good day. In two weeks she’s off anti depressants and that panic attacks have stopped. We know her today as a bright, healthy child. The difference is I think we typically settle for the God help my child kind of prayers and Christ died to give us more than that.
Dennis: There are parents right now who have prayed for a child who has maybe an emotional problem or a struggle at school and they’ve prayed and they are not off of anti depressants or they are still acting out. This is tough stuff here when you step out and pray something big in the life of a child who you can’t control and won’t control. It really is up to God and God may be deciding this is going to be a part of who this child is. There are going to be lessons for him to learn or her to learn or you to learn. There is something bigger I’m up to than just resolving the problem.
Will: I’ve got to be okay taking my heart before God and pouring it out to him as David did in the Psalms and other places. Letting him decide what he is going to do with it. Where I often fail in prayer is not being honest in my heart and saying God I really want you to heal my kid. Take this cup from me if it is your will. I’ve got to be mature enough to pray boldly and ask God to do big, hairy, bold, audacious things and be mature enough to let him do what he is going to do. That is the difference.
Dennis: Susie, you’ve observed your husband Will develop this message over the past 20 or almost 25 years.
Dennis: What is the most important thing you’ve learned from him about praying BIG?
Susie: I think staying at it. We’ve had two go off to college and I’m sure your wife would agree it’s pretty traumatic. Because you love those kids and you want them to walk out a godly life and as a mother I sometimes feel like their life is better when I’m in it. But when they go off to college that is not how it works. There is a verse in Acts that says basically I entrust you to God and goodness of his word that he is going to give you an inheritance. For me that keeping at it thing is commending things back to God that really don’t belong to me. In this case when my kids went off to college that prayer verse in Acts calmed me and helped me. It gave me security knowing that I was entrusting my kids back to God. I wasn’t just throwing them out to the wild blue yonder and I wasn’t going to freak out when I thought about them running around doing stuff and worrying about their safety and their health.
Prayer for me is continual dialog with God about basically his goodness in the world and his control in life. Yes, it is about things happening and things coming about but it is also a constant reminder to me of who I’m in relationship with and who holds those people who are dear to me in his hand.
Dennis: Whose will is being done here?
Susie: Yes, and I love that verse in Romans that says I do think we need to pray the things that we feel drawn to pray for but the Holy Spirit intercedes.
Will: He knows.
Susie: So I think our responsibility is to pray. And pray and pray. I don’t think God gets mad at us because we aren’t praying the right thing. We just need to pray and know that the Holy Spirit is going to intercede with groanings too deep for words. He is going to translate for God the Father the things that need to be happening.
Bob: I think many of us pray for our kids when we are very aware of problems. If you have a prodigal you spend a lot of time on your knees. If you have health issues you spend a lot of time in prayer. If everything is going okay we kind of back off and we don’t do as much praying. We need to be as proactive in the good times in prayer as we are in the troubled times don’t we?
Will: When I read my Bible and I read it every day for the most part. I keep a pen handy. I’ll see a verse that describes what I want to be true in one of my kid’s lives or in Susie’s life. I’ll write her initials or their initials next to that verse and I’ll pray it right then. “Lord, do that in my son. Help my son to love you and be a mighty man of God.” Then whenever I go back to that verse and I see his initials I pray it again. Sometimes and I did it this week I’ll email my kid and say I prayed this for you today. This is what I’m asking God to make you be.
There is this wonderful conduit and it keeps them aware that this is a spiritual thing they are involved in. Again, it takes the guess work out of prayer for me. Instead of wondering how to pray for my child I figure the Bible is a prayer script and I just pray the word and it works.
Dennis: What about you Susie? You are a mom and you undoubtedly have some very basic things you pray for your children.
Susie: I do. I don’t pray with my kids every single night as Will does. I have a different approach. Typically I try to read the Bible first thing in the morning because it makes me a nicer person. I’ll be reading along and all of a sudden something pops out at me I’ll write that verse down. Then I write my prayers out. One thing I want to say about prayer especially for your children is prayer for your children is about a vision. When you are parenting and you have a ten year old who will not make their bed or who will not study. Or you have a teenager that just doesn’t get it and you are concerned it’s really easy to get locked into what is happening right now but for me prayer is having a bigger vision for my child, a bigger vision for my husband and myself.
Prayer pushes me out and releases my faith to believe that God can really do what he says he is going to do in the Bible. He can do that in my life and in my child’s life. I do pray with them. I prayed with Sarah before we left to come here but I think equally important and especially if you don’t like praying out loud or if you are intimidated by it. Don’t let that stop you from praying. Don’t let that stop you from talking with God. For me writing it out has been what fits with my personality. I do talk to them about what I am praying for them but sometimes I don’t. It’s about having a bigger vision than what you can see.
Dennis: Articulate that vision for us. What is that vision?
Susie: For my kids?
Susie: One thing I do pray for my children every single day is they would love God with all their energy all their life. I pray this for myself too. That is really a paraphrase out of Mark 12. I figure that is one of the best blanket prayers you can pray for any human alive—To love God with all their energy all their life.
I desperately want that because I think that it’s one thing to pray for something coming up and then it happens and it’s over. To love God as long as we are alive with all of our energy now that is something.
Dennis: You speak of a time in your book of a time when you prayed about a crisis in your son Will, Jr.’s life where he was lost.
Will: Thanks for bringing that one up.
Dennis: Well, I want to keep this lofty discussion close to planet earth where most of our parents live.
Will: It’s such a great story.
Susie: It’s a bad story.
Dennis: It’s a gritty story.
Will: It’s great because God did a good work in it. I lost my son on a mountain literally. He was 13 and we were hiking at about 13,500 feet in the Rocky Mountains. He was having the climb of his life. We had done two peaks and we were going to a third. I was talking to somebody at the summit that we had met up there and he said I’m going to go ahead and start and I said I’m right behind you.
Well instead of going around a little ledge he walked over the edge and disappeared into this canyon and I didn’t see it. I walked to the next summit and my son was gone. I searched for an hour and a half and I couldn’t find him. We couldn’t communicate with the walkie talkie because a ridge was between us and I ran an hour and a half to trail head to see if he was there and he wasn’t there. I made the gut wrenching decision to drive an hour to the ranger station and report him missing on that mountain. It was probably the lowest point in my adult life as a parent.
Dennis: What time was it?
Will: It was about four o’clock in the afternoon and I lost him about one o’clock. Thunderheads had blown in and it was going to get cold at night. He’s 13 and I can’t find him and it’s hundreds and hundreds of acres of landscape. I drove to that ranger station thinking two very critical things. One where is my son and two what am I going to tell my wife? When do I make the call to Susie that Will is missing?
My son did two really good things. First he remembered what I had taught him about finding your way in the wilderness but more importantly he prayed. He sat down on a rock and said okay God here I am give me my bearings and he remembered where the sun was and how to gage and he found his way out in no time.
It ended up being a non event that could have been a terrible event. I prayed some pretty significant prayers during that time for him. He’s in the book because we are raising kids that live in a pretty exposed wilderness that is a rough and tumble world. I can’t be with them all the time. They need to have the tools to push pause and say God I need you to guide me out of this.
This is especially true for young girls who are told to dress and act a certain way or little boys and all their temptations we need to equip them to pray and to seek God. We do this by praying with them and praying for them.
Your kid may be breaking your heart right now don’t ever stop praying for them. Prayer works. Prayer absolutely changes lives so keep praying.
Dennis: Don’t let the enemy convince you to lose heart.
Will: Never give up.
Dennis: One of my favorite passages on prayer is found in Jeremiah 33:3. I pray this all the time for our ministry and what we are doing at FamilyLife. Jeremiah records the word of the Lord, “call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” He goes on to talk about how ultimately he will bring health and healing to the houses of the nation. I think what you are challenging us to do is to pray for the health and healing of our marriages and our children and families and legacies.
Some who are listening have been given some tough legacies and they want to change the legacy of divorce and perhaps addictions and abuse. They want to see God create a trophy of grace. The real answer and exhortation here is don’t give up. Don’t give in. Keep on praying. I want to say thanks to both of you Will and Susie for your work and ministry and for writing these books. What a great exhortation to all of us to not lose heart in praying both for our marriages and our families.
Bob: Don’t give up and pray BIG.
Will: Pray BIG.
Bob: I want to encourage you to go to our website FamilyLifeToday.com there about the book that Will and Susie have written called Pray BIG for Your Marriage. There is also information about resources that we have come up with to help you pray regularly, consistently, effectively for your children. I’m thinking of the book While They Were Sleeping that has been used by lots of parents to pray on a regular basis for their children and for specific character qualities to be developed in the lives of kids.
Again information about the resources we have on prayer both for husbands and wives and for moms and dads can be found at our website. We do hope that praying together is something that will become a part of your routine during the new year.
We also hope that many of our listeners will plan now to join us for a Weekend to Remember sometime this spring. We will kick off our spring season of Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences Valentine’s weekend, February 12-14. Dennis and Barbara are going to be speaking at the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference at the Gaylord National hotel on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.
While they are in the nation’s capital that same weekend I’m going to be in the chocolate capital in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Hershey lodge. Whether you live in one of those areas or wherever you live around the country if you register this week for one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences when you buy one registration you get a second one absolutely free. It’s a buy one get one free offer that is good for FamilyLife Today listeners and we need to hear from you this week or next week at the latest.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com there’s more information on our website and register online. If you do that you have to type my name “Bob” in the key code box on the online registration form and you’ll be automatically set up for the buy one get one free offer.
Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY, that’s 1-800-358-6329. When you call just mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today or mention my name. Don’t put off calling.
I want to again just quickly thank those of our listeners who over that last several weeks have been contacting us to make a year-end donation to FamilyLife Today. We appreciate all of the calls and all the folks who logged on and the letters that we received at year end. We are grateful for your financial support. We are still doing some tallying here and we are going to post the results online as soon as we can to let you know if we were able to take advantage of our matching gift opportunity. Thanks so much. Your support does mean a lot to us.
Now tomorrow we’re going to introduce you to a former NFL cornerback. I think he was a two time pro bowl candidate but he may be best known today at least for some of our listeners as the evangelism linebacker.
Derwin Gray: As a former NFL player any time I can tackle somebody and not go to jail is a good day.
Bob: You’ll meet Derwin Gray tomorrow. Hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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