May I suggest that after our children’s salvation in Jesus Christ, the second-most important prayer we can pray for our children is actually… a prayer for ourselves: “God, please turn my heart toward my children.”
We need to pray this prayer for at least four reasons.
#1. Our identity is one of being ambassadors of Jesus Christ to our children(Deut. 6, Eph. 6:1-4, 2 Cor. 5:20). God’s clearly revealed will is to use us as the primary evangelizers and disciplers of “our” children. To do this well, our hearts need to embrace what is already true about us: that we have been given this calling. God’s callings are His enablings.
#4. God is conforming our children into his image, not our image.Our children were created in God’s image, not our own. Jesus’ death and resurrection ensures the transformation of his children into his image. Yet, how often do we find ourselves trying to conform them to an identity that wehave planned out for them? God has a plan for “our” children that usually looks different than our own. We have to stop the tug-of-war with God. God’s dream needs to become our dream. Our hearts need to change.
Time is short. It seems to go by ever so slowly until you wake up and realize that you’ve been at it ten years and the things you wanted to do “tomorrow” you didn’t do. Regret is hard to live with. I already regret things I should have done but didn’t because in key moments, my heart was somewhere else.
Good fathers are not perfect (as if that were even possible). Instead, good fathers are weak fathers who have hearts that are increasingly mastered not by guilt, fear, or self-righteousness but by the overwhelming, compelling love of Jesus Christ for us—in our weakness.
His love for us becomes compelling when each day we realize ALL that he has done for us in making us new creations and giving us every spiritual blessing. We have been given a new identity that is rocket fuel for us fathers.
What are you praying for as a father? Is it for God to change your heart toward your children? If so, seeing all that God has already given you in Jesus is a powerful tool he will use to answer your prayer.