How can I pray for my children?
Praying for Your Children
Interceding on behalf of your sons and daughters
As a parent, one of the most significant and influential roles you play is that of being a faithful prayer warrior on behalf of your child. Because of the closeness of your relationship, you can know your child as no one else knows him and discern when he most needs prayer support.
In this devotion, we focus on seven areas of prayer: a prayer of dedication, prayers of blessing, prayers about parenting, prayers of intercession, prayers against anger, and prayers for God’s hedge of protection around your child, as well as a way to use the rosary for praying for your children.
I. Your own life needs to be in order.
You should be leading by example in your family life.
You must be willing to teach your children the faith.
II. Baptism is a must for children, if you want God to hear your prayers.
Baptism is a sacrament which accomplishes several things, the first of which is the remission of sin, both original sin and actual sin—only original sin in the case of infants and young children, since they are incapable of actual sin; and both original and actual sin in the case of older persons.
Peter explained what happens at baptism when he said, "But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38). But he did not restrict this teaching to adults. He added, "For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call." (2:39). We also read: "Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, invoking his name." (Acts 22:16). These commands are universal, not restricted to adults. Further, these commands make clear the necessary connection between baptism and salvation, a connection explicitly stated in 1 Peter 3:21: "Baptism . . .now saveth you also: not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "
When should your child be baptized?
Cannon Law says this:
Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized with in a week to 10 days; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.
An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without delay.
III. Praying the Rosary for your Children
Most of us who pray the rosary usually offer it for some specific intention, often multiple intentions, relating to our own needs or the needs of others. Typically, the intention is stated or mentally acknowledged at the beginning of the rosary and then more or less forgotten or relegated to the back of our mind as the prayers themselves are recited.
I’d like to suggest a way that the rosary can easily be adapted to incorporate our specific intention for our children so that we remain conscious of it and re offer it throughout the prayers and meditations. By remaining conscious of the intention while we pray and meditate on the mysteries, we link our children that we are praying for to the persons of Christ and Mary in a very meaningful and active way. Doing this helps us discern more completely the specific needs of our child; and our single, general intention continually reemerges in a series of specific intentions. Prayed in this way, the rosary can become a very complete and effective prayer of discernment and intercession.
The rosary is a Gospel prayer. We are remembering and pondering with Mary the great mysteries of God’s love. We are there, reliving the story of our salvation, and thus our prayer is, in a very real sense a living prayer. Through our intentions, we can bring our children with us, lifting them up into these living mysteries and repeatedly asking for God’s loving, healing action in their lives.
Each time the rosary is prayed in this way, it is different, because the mysteries are linked to a different person, and the meditations that flow from this are unique to that person, situation, time, place, etc.
So there’s no set formula, but I can give you a few samples to get you started.
At the beginning of the rosary, offer the overall intention. Here are some examples, but don’t be bound by them; use whatever words are most natural for you.
“Thank you, Holy Ghost, for prompting me to pray for my child (or children) (Name). Help me to know how to pray for (him/ her/ them), and as You guide my meditations, overshadow (him/ her/ them) with Your healing love and let your intentions for (him/ her/ them) be fulfilled.”
Or, if you have a more specific intention in mind:
“Eternal Father, in Jesus’ name, in union with Your Holy Ghost, I offer you this rosary through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Throughout these prayers and meditations, I lift (Name) up to You, asking that you immerse (him/ her/ them) completely in Your love. And I especially ask that … ” (here include your specific intention for your child).
After the Apostles Creed and the Our Father (which many people offer for the Holy Father), the first three Hail Mary’s are usually offered for an increase in Faith, Hope, and Love. These may easily be adapted to fit the particular person being prayed for:
Before the first Hail Mary:
“Mary, intercede now for (Name) for a deeper faith in God the Father.”
Before the second Hail Mary:
“Mary, intercede now for (Name) for a greater hope and trust in Jesus.”
Before the third Hail Mary:
“Mary, intercede now for (Name) for a fuller indwelling of love from the Holy Ghost”
Then, as you begin meditating on each mystery, try to mentally bring the child you are praying for into each event of that mystery. You can do this at the beginning of each mystery and continue it throughout you meditation. The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
Some possible intentions for the Annunciation, for example:
“ Mary, you were in prayer when the angel visited you. Your whole life had been consecrated to the Lord, and you were ready to hear His word. Intercede now for (Name) for that same devotion to prayer and readiness to hear the Lord. … Let (him/her/them) learn to be unafraid and to trust in the Lord with You, to say ‘Yes’ to Him with you and be ready to receive whatever the Lord chooses to give.”
If you look for ways to apply the gospel events and teachings of each mystery to the particular person you’re praying for, you will find many different little prayers coming to mind that will keep the intention active and present to you as you pray.
I find it helpful to adapt even the Our Father and Hail Mary to make them specific to specific intention.
So I pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done (especially for ________), on earth as it is in heaven.”
And, “Pray for us (and especially for ________), now and at the hour of our death.”
Mary is our great intercessor with the Lord, and interceding with her through the rosary can be an especially uplifting and fruitful way to pray for those we love.
IV. A Prayer of Dedication
As parents welcome a new baby into their home, many wonder, What is the most important thing I can do for my child? The most important thing you could do for a new son or daughter—besides baptizing the child is to dedicate your child to God on a daily basis.
A prayer of dedication is based on recognizing that God has given the child to you for your care and upbringing. By acknowledging this gift and the responsibility that comes with it, parents can affirm that the child ultimately belongs to God and therefore purpose to raise the child in a way that honors God’s gift and His design for life.
A prayer of dedication should involve both parents praying together. Here is a suggested outline for your prayer of dedication:
Gather before God with your spouse.
Thank God for the gift of your child.
Confess your own iniquities, with the truth of Psalm 65:18 in mind: “If I have looked at iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
Ask God to reveal any area in your life that has not been given to Him or any stronghold of Satan (false philosophies, sinful habits, unconfessed sin) that is present.
Acknowledge specific iniquities that come to mind.
Ask God to cleanse you of the iniquity. Be sure you get in the confessional as soon as possible.
Ask God to reclaim any ground given to Satan and to tear down every stronghold of the enemy.
Claim freedom for your child through Jesus Christ.
Pray that God would cut off generational iniquities ( see How Do Sins Of My Forefathers Affect My Life?) and sinful influences in your child’s life. Claim the truth of Psalm 102:17, that from now on righteousness would be the heritage of your children and of future generations: “But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him: And his justice unto children' s children,”
Dedicate your child to God.
Verbalize your desire to raise this child for the Lord. Pray that your child when he comes to the age of accountability will come to a place where he will totally commit his life to God and surrender his or her will to Him. Pray that his or her life will bring glory to God.
Ask for wisdom to raise the child in the way God would have him or her to go.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, I come to you desiring my child [give full name] to be free from all generational sins, iniquities, and their results, which may have an influence upon my child. I thank you for giving your life for me and cleansing me of my sin. I confess that I belong to you, and I dedicate my child [give full name] to you.
I now confess and repent of all my sins, known and unknown. I promise that although I have confessed these sins to you here, I will also confess them before you in the confessional at the next chance that is given to me. I now confess the sins of my forefathers. I now renounce and ask you to break the power of all generational sins, iniquities, and curses that were passed down to me by the sins or actions of others. I now renounce and ask you to break and loose me and my family from all demonic subjection that would seek to influence or control me or my family in any way contrary to the Will of God and to His Church. I claim release and freedom through the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that my son/daughter would fear you, and that from now on justice would be the heritage of my family, of my children, and of our future generations.
Lord, I pray that [give full name] will receive give his/her life over to you at a young age. Place within his/her heart a desire to follow you all the days of his/her life. Keep him/her pure and willing to wait until you reveal your life help mate for him/her in your perfect will. If it is your will for him/her to be married, I ask that you would set apart for yourself a help mate for him/her and that he/she would keep himself/herself pure. I pray that his/her life would bring glory to you, and I ask that you would give me wisdom in training him/her up in the way you would have him/her to go. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
V. Prayers of Blessing
A Hebrew father’s place in the traditional Jewish home is demonstrated by the beautiful custom of blessing the children, which dates back to Israel’s patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob. To this day, the father blesses his children on Friday nights, on Rosh Hashanah eve, and on Yom Kippur before leaving for the synagogue.
The following prayer, based on a translation and adaption of the traditional Hebrew father’s blessing on his children, is a wonderful gift that the head of the family can give to each child.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I receive, welcome, and acknowledge each of my children as a delightful blessing from you. I speak your blessings upon them and over them.
I bless them in the name of Jesus, proclaiming the blessings of God, my Redeemer, upon them. May You give them wisdom, a reverential fear of You, and a heart of love.
May You create in them the desire to attend to Your words, a willing and obedient heart that they may consent and submit to Your sayings and walk in Your ways. May their eyes look straight ahead with purpose for the future. May their tongue be as the pen of a ready writer, writing mercy and kindness upon the tablets of their heart. May they speak the truth in love. May their hands do the works of You and Your Church; may their feet walk the paths that You have foreordained for them.
I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are living their lives in truth.
May you Oh Lord prepare them and their future mate to love and honor one another, and may You grant to their union upright sons and daughters who will live in accordance with Your Word. May their source of livelihood be honorable and secure, so that they will earn a living with their own hands. May they always worship You oh in Lord Spirit and in Truth.
I pray above all things that they may always prosper and be in health, even as their soul prospers. “I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil,” to give them hope in their final outcome.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
VI. Prayers for Your Parenting
Ask the Lord to help you raise each of your children for Him in a manner that reflects His ways and the truth of His Word and His Church. Consider the following principles of parenting, and take note of the ones in which you need to gain maturity.
Use the related Scriptures as springboards for prayer. Ask God to help you eliminate each negative pattern in your parenting and to help you practice the positive patterns more consistently.
Examine your expectations for your child. Are they realistic? Evaluate them in the light of God’s Word. (I Corinthians 13:11 ,Matthew 18:10 Genesis 33:13–14)
Love your child unconditionally.
(I John 4:10, 19)
Look for opportunities to commend your child. Express appreciation for him frequently.
(Philippians 1:3, I Thessalonians 1:2, and II Thessalonians 1:3.)
Seldom criticize without first expressing appreciation for your child’s good points.
(See I Corinthians 1:3–13.)
Give your child the freedom to make decisions when serious issues are not at stake. Your goal should be to bring him to maturity in Christ, not to dependence on you.
(See Ephesians 4:11–16, 6:4, and Proverbs 22:6.)
Do not compare your child with others.
(See Galatians 6:4, I Corinthians 12:4–11, and II Corinthians 10:12–13.)
Never mock or make fun of your child. Do not demean or belittle your child, and beware of calling him “dumb,” “clumsy,” or “stupid.”
(See Proverbs 12:18, 16:24; Matthew 7:12; Ephesians 4:29–30; and Colossians 4:6.)
Do not scold your child in front of others.
(See Matthew 18:15 and I Corinthians 16:14.)
Never make threats or promises that you do not intend to keep.
(See Matthew 5:37, Colossians 3:9, and James 5:12.)
Don’t be afraid to say “no,” and when you say it, mean it.
(See Proverbs 22:15, 29:15, and I Samuel 3:13.)
When your child has behavioral problems and needs correction, do not overreact or lose control of yourself. Do not yell, shout, or scream at him.
(See I Corinthians 16:14, Ephesians 4:26–27, and II Timothy 2:24–25.)
Communicate optimism and expectancy. Do not communicate by word or action that you have given up on your child or are resigned to his failure.
(See I Corinthians 13:4–8, II Corinthians 9:1–2, and Philemon 21.)
Make sure your child knows exactly what is expected of him. Most of the Book of Proverbs consists of specific counsel from a father to his son.
Ask your child’s advice; include him in some of the family planning.
(See John 6:5, I Timothy 4:12, and II Timothy 4:11.)
When you have made a mistake with your child, admit it and ask him to forgive you.
(See Matthew 5:23–24 and James 5:16.)
Welcome contributions from your child.
(See Proverbs 15:22; James 1:19, 3:13–18; and Titus 1:6–8.)
Have family conferences in which you discuss things that affect the family, such as the following areas:
Assess your child’s areas of strength and then encourage him to develop them. Begin with one area and encourage him to really develop in it.
(See I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6, 4:5; and I Peter 4:10.)
Give your child plenty of tender, loving care. Be free in your expressions of love by word and deed.
(See John 13:34; I Corinthians 13:1–8, 16:14; and I Thessalonians 2:7–8.)
When your child does something well, commend him. Especially let him know when his attitude and effort are what they should be.
(See Ephesians 1:15–16, Philippians 1:3–6, Colossians 1:3–4, and I Thessalonians 1:2–10.)
Be more concerned about God-honoring attitudes and character qualities than you are about performance, athletic skills, clothing, external beauty, or intelligence.
(See I Samuel 16:7, Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 23:25–28, Galatians 5:22–23, and I Peter 3:3–5.)
Have a lot of fun with your child. Plan to have many fun times and to enjoy many special events with your child. Make a list of fun things your family can do together.
(See Proverbs 15:13, 17:22; Ecclesiastes 3:4; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21; and Luke 15:22–24.)
Help your child to learn responsibility by administering discipline fairly, consistently, lovingly, and promptly.
(See I Samuel 3:13 and Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15.)
Think of your child as a “human becoming,” as well as a “human being.” Patiently consider that the task of raising children is a process that usually takes eighteen to nineteen years to complete.
(See Proverbs 22:6, Isaiah 28:9–10, Ephesians 6:4, Galatians 6:9, and I Corinthians 15:58.)
Live your convictions consistently. Your child will learn more by observing your example than he will by listening to your words.
(See Deuteronomy 6:4–9, I Thessalonians 2:10–12, Philippians 4:9, and II Timothy 1:5–7.)
Recognize that you are responsible to prepare your child for life in this world and in the world to come.
(See Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Psalm 78:5–7, Ephesians 6:4, and II Timothy 3:15–17.)
Be very sensitive to the needs, feelings, fears, and opinions of your child.
(See Matthew 18:10 and Colossians 3:21.)
Make sure your child knows that he is important to you and accepted by you.
(See Matthew 18:5–6.)
Avoid the use of words that express wrath or exasperation.(See Proverbs 15:1 and Ephesians 4:31–32.)
Maintain the practices of daily Bible reading, discussions, and the Rosary.
(See Deuteronomy 6:4–9, II Timothy 3:15, Ephesians 6:4, and Psalm 1:1–3, 18:6, 119:9–11.)
As a family, become thoroughly involved in your local catholic Church when one is available.
(See Ephesians 4:11–16 and Hebrews 10:24–25.)
Make your home a center of hospitality, a place where your child can be brought into frequent contact with many Catholics
(See Romans 12:9–13, Hebrews 13:1–2, and II Kings 4:8–37.)
Make it easy for your child to approach you with problems, difficulties, and concerns. Learn to be a good listener when he needs you. Give your child your undivided attention. Avoid being a mind reader, an interrupter, or a critic. Show an interest in whatever interests your child. Make yourself available when your child needs you—even when you are busy.
(See I Corinthians 9:19–23; Philippians 2:3–4; James 1:19–20, 3:16–18; and I John 3:16–18.)
Seek to bring your child to a personal and complete surrender to Jesus Christ. God brings conviction of sin, and gives repentance and faith. You, however, can provide an environment in which God can win over there hearts—by prayer, Godly speech and example, family devotions, and involvement in the Catholic Church.
(See II Timothy 1:5–7 and 3:14–17.)
VII. Prayers of Intercession
Praying for your children is one of the most important things you can do for them. There is constant spiritual warfare raging against your children, because the family is one of the enemy’s prime targets.
The following suggestions present specific things you can pray for your children. Take time to intercede for them in these areas and enter into spiritual warfare on their behalf.
Pray for your children:
That they will surrender there life completely to Jesus Christ. And not a half in half out Catholic.
(See Psalm 62:1 and II Timothy 3:15.)
That they will hate evil.
(See Psalm 96:10.)
That they will be caught when doing wrong.
(See Numbers 32:23 and Galatians 6:7.)
That they will be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional, and physical.(See John 17:15.)
That they will have a responsible attitude in all their relationships.
(See Daniel 6:3.)
That they will respect those in authority over them.
(See Romans 13:1.)
That they will desire to have wise friends and be protected from foolish companions.
(See Proverbs 1:10–16.)
That they will be kept for the right spouse.
(See Proverbs 19:14 and II Corinthians 6:14–17.)
That they, as well as those they marry, will remain pure until marriage.
(See I Corinthians 6:13–20.)
That they will be single-hearted, willing to be sold out to Jesus Christ.
(See II Timothy 1:5–7, 3:14–17.)
That they will be hedged in so they cannot find their way to wrong influences, places, people, or friends, and that these temptations will not come against them.
(See Hosea 2:5–7.)
That they will learn the great virtue of humility.
(See James 4:6.)
VIII. Prayers Against Anger
Scripture warns fathers against provoking their children to anger: “And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).
The following list presents ways that a parent commonly provokes his child to anger. Take note of any specific areas of failure in your own life or in your son or daughter’s life. Often the attitudes of children reflect those of their parents; therefore, search your own life in relation to the struggles of your child.
How a parent can provoke a child to anger:
By modeling anger.
(See Proverbs 22:24–25.)
By not having marital harmony.
(See Genesis 2:24 and Hebrews 12:15.)
By consistently disciplining in anger.
(See Psalm 6:2, 37:2.)
By being inconsistent with discipline.
(See Ecclesiastes 8:11.)
By having double standards.
(See Matthew 23:1–4 and Philippians 4:9.)
By not admitting error.
(See Matthew 5:23–26, Job 32:2, and James 5:16.)
By constantly finding fault in others.
(See Colossians 3:12–15.)
By reversing God-given roles.
(See Ephesians 5:22–25 and Genesis 3:16.)
By not listening to the child’s opinion or the child’s side of the story.
(See Proverbs 18:13, 17.)
By comparing the child to others.
(See II Corinthians 10:12.)
By not taking time to talk with the child.
(See Hebrews 13:16.)
By not praising the child.
(See II Corinthians 2:6–8.)
By failing to keep promises.
(See Matthew 5:37, Colossians 3:9, and Psalm 14:4.)
By scolding the child in front of others.
(See Matthew 18:15 and John 21:15–17.)
By giving too much freedom.
(See Proverbs 29:15 and Galatians 4:1–2.)
By being too strict.
(See James 3:17.)
By making fun of the child.
(See Matthew 18:10.)
By abusing the child physically.
(See I Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7, and Numbers 22.)
By calling names.
(See Ephesians 4:29.)
By having unrealistic expectations.
(See I Corinthians 13:11.)
In regard to each failure, repent of your sin and receive the Lord’s forgiveness. (See I John 1:9.) Ask the Lord for grace and power to forsake your sin and to walk in newness of life. Pray that the Lord would limit the damaging effects of your failures on your children, and where you see failures in their lives, pray for conviction and grace for them to change.
VIV Praying for a Hedge of Protection
In our struggle against evil, we are dealing with spiritual powers. Therefore, we are to put on the whole armor of God and stand against the attacks of the wicked one.“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10–13).
One powerful weapon that every Christian parent has is the ability to pray a daily hedge of protection around each of his children. Job experienced this protection, and Satan complained to God about its effectiveness:“Hast not thou made a fence for him, and his house, and all his substance round about, blessed the works of his hands, and his possession hath increased on the earth?” (Job 1:10).
There are three parts to a prayer for a hedge of protection:
Ask God to bind and rebuke the power of Satan in the life of each one in your family.
Be mighty through God to pull down strongholds.“No man can enter into the house of a strong man and rob him of his goods, unless he first bind the strong man, and then shall he plunder his house.”(Mark 3:27).
Pray in the name and through the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask me any thing in my name, that I will do.”(John 14:13,14). Christ’s name is Protector, the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep.
Claim the Scripture that relates to the kind of protection that is needed.
For example, for protection from sin, you can claim a verse such as Romans 6:14:“For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace.” For protection from discouragement, you could claim this promise: “I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.”(Hebrews 13:5).
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ I ask you Father to bind and rebuke Satan and to put a hedge of protection around me and each one in my family. “Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in...[us]...will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6). In the name of Jesus Christ our Shepherd, Amen.
As you support your sons and daughters in prayer, do not become discouraged. Do not give up or succumb to the idea that your prayers are meaningless. Consider the impact that prayer has had in your life and in the lives of those around you.“. . . For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. ” (James 5:16b).
Truly, prayer is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child.