The past few weeks God has been working in my heart in many areas, it seems. One is just through that formidable bad word, PAIN. Two weeks ago I threw out my back (a reoccurrence, I think, of sacroiliac joint disorder). After a week of a lot of pain it became mostly better – but then since Monday morning it has reverted to the original condition without much relief the past three days. I always wonder how people in chronic pain manage to not be grumpy most of the time. I am trying, but alone it doesn’t work. I’ve been asking God for help in this area.
One of the things he has been speaking to me about is prayer – this can be a great diversion to get my mind off of me. I am still reading a book I started months ago from Beth and Gene called A Praying Life (Paul Miller). The past few weeks I have been ruminating on a section in which Miller shares how he has prayed for his children over the years. He shares how he noticed his six-year old daughter had a bent towards loving materials things. He chose a Bible verse that addressed this topic (I John 2:15-16) , wrote it on a 3 x 5 card, and began to pray for her almost daily using this to guide him. He writes,
“Love of material things was not an all-consuming isn in Emily’s life. It was just a slight bent to her heart. If a ship is off a few degrees, it is imperceptible at first, but over time it becomes a vast distance. I was praying to prevent the distance of a heart gone astray. I prayed for little Emily because I couldn’t get inside her heart” (p. 166).
He goes on to say, “Until you are convinced that you can’t change your child’s heart, you will not take prayer seriously” (p. 167).
This has made so much sense to me. Often as parents we try to change the environment, the discipline, the friends, the circumstances in order to change our children’s hearts. And we need to constantly be monitoring and adjusting these things! I don’t know about you, but I have concluded that these things are never going to really change their hearts. I do see these places in each of them – those bents of the heart – that I realize God could use to mold them towards himself or that they could allow to move them far from their Savior. One of our children, for example, is extremely conscious of what others do or wear; they do not want to stand out nor to be different. This is especially difficult going to school in a culture that values conformity and not standing out! I have realized that this is an area that we have to diligently work with them on but even more so to pray truths of scripture. We can’t change the bent! This is God’s special work.
So the past week I have been praying over our children, and asking God to reveal to us those bents, and the Scripture(s) that are the antidotes for these. It is wonderfully freeing to be able to place the ultimate responsibility for the spiritual life and growth of our children where it really belongs. And it gives me great things to pray and keep my mind focused on things that matter most.