Praying For Your Adult Children

For years I avoided reading the book of Job because I was afraid I’d contract some of his suffering.  I knew enough about his story to have zero envy of his previous and post suffering wealth and success. But my Bible study class during my children’s teen years included a week focusing on Job. I’m now a fan of his for what I learned about God and about Job’s prayers for his grown-up kids. The timing was right for me.

As any parent knows, endless frightening possibilities force us to pray.  Teenage driving, coed parties, international mission trips, or carefree backpacking in national parks are out-of-our-control scenarios that send us to our knees.

When our six children left the nest and moved away, I discovered I wasn’t in the know anymore. I no longer heard daily accounts of my kids’ activities and events once they went to college and then married. I no longer knew their friends, where they were, when they left or arrived back home to their dorm or house.

It was a great loss: a time of learning to trust God in new ways as their mom. I learned to pray differently, now that I didn’t have details.

With ten grown children, seven sons and three daughters, Job felt what every mom or dad feels today. The seven brothers hosted big feasts on their birthdays every year and invited the siblings, including their three sisters. Job wasn’t invited. But he knew they went all out with great food and fine wines.

Even though he missed out on the fun, Job developed a routine, a habit of prayer, to exercise when he knew the party was over and everyone was traveling back home. The focus of Job’s prayer was for the hearts of his children. Not their success, wealth, or accomplishments. His prayers weren’t selfish and temporal focused but were holy and eternally focused.

“And when the days of the feast had run their course…he would rise early and offer burnt offerings for the number of them all. For Job said [he prayed], ‘It may be that my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts’” (Job 1:5).

Interceding before the Judge of the Universe, Job confidently and faithfully went before God because as a parent he loved his children and knew it was best for them to follow God all their lives. Closing the door of their hearts on God, Job knew, was the first step away from the safety of God’s presence and the purposes of His plan.

My husband and I often pray prayers like Job’s, like the one with this post, for our grown-up kids. We also bring other requests to God about qualities and values that line up with our Father’s.

  • Lord, help them always be quick to forgive, quick to ask for forgiveness, willing to do the hard work of relationship building and relationship restoration. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
  • Father, guide our children in your ways. (Psalm 43:3)
  • Lord, give them wisdom and understanding as they make decisions on school choices, career choices, marriage, and parenting. (Proverbs 2:1-11)
  • Protect them, Lord, from the temptations of the world and from the evil that wants to destroy. (James 4:1-8)
  • May they be like Job, faithful to You, Lord, no matter what befalls them. (Job 1 & 2)
  • Lord God, I pray that our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren would grow to love Your Word with their whole hearts, that they would keep His word so they might remain pure. (Psalm 119)

But as you pray here is an important caution. Ask your adult children for specific needs to pray about for them. If they are willing to share those with you, whatever you do don’t share those requests with your prayer or Bible study group or friends. Once your children leave your home to live their own lives, their lives are their own to share as they wish with whomever they wish.

This is hard to learn for parents who as their kids were growing up found comfort at ballgames, church foyers, and prayer groups sharing challenges with other moms and dads with similar experiences. We found camaraderie, sometimes a few laughs, and encouragement that our kids weren’t the only ones doing something that drove us crazy!

But when they turn 18 the rules change.

Respect your adult children’s need to make their own way, to grapple with the issues, morals, and cultural complexities of their generation. Give them space to learn and grow just as you did.

Remember, we are on this spinning planet for His agenda, His purposes. As Job did, line up your prayers for your children with God’s desires. As Jesus taught us, pray, “Thy kingdom come,” a request for Him to reign in your children’s lives and your own.

For encouragement on teaching younger children to pray, read Teaching your Elementary Kids to Pray and Teaching Little Ones to Pray.

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20 thoughts on “Praying For Your Adult Children”

  1. Sabrina Hamilton

    Barbara, thank you for these words of wisdom, and for the prayers and bible verses. I’ll be using them. We have been through a lot with our only daughter over the past couple of years, as she struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. There have been numerous attempts and typically a hospitalization every 2-3 months. It has been exhausting and devastating for our family, but I felt that through it all my relationship with her has grown deeper. We talk a lot about God and the importance of community, prayer, forgiveness, and grace. We have raised our kids in the church and are probably considered more strict than most parents these days. But since she turned 18 a couple of weeks ago, then got her license and a car, I already see her slipping into risky behaviors like lying and spending too much time with a 24-year-old man she just met. She insists she’s old enough to make good choices, but won’t listen to the advice I give her. I’m just at a loss. I’m trying to stay faithful in prayer and keep my communication with her open and consistent. But I fear with her struggles, her lack of self-value, and her newfound freedom, she will make choices she will someday regret.

  2. I am involved in Mom’s in Prayer, an international organization that prays for schools and our children, including our adult children. Having a group of godly women to pray with each week is such a comfort as we walk these sometimes-heartbreaking times with adult children. I encourage everyone to go to their website, momsinprayer.org. They have great resources, a blog, and information on joining a group if you desire.

    1. Lisa, So glad you mentioned this. I helped lead a moms in prayer group at our children’s schools for years. I totally agree this is a great ministry, a great way to get to know other moms and to be encouraging teachers and administrators at the schools where your children attend.
      Barbara

  3. Thank you Barbara for these very encouraging reminders and prayers. We have 4 children ages 24-15; twin boys that married in the last year within 6 months of one another. Although they all believe; choices have been made that are very concerning. I know God loves them more than me and He has a plan. It is just painful to stand by and watch knowing the painful consequences that can come if they do not repent. I do pray God convicts hearts and leads hearts back to Himself. Thank you for always being so transparent and sharing your life and wisdom.
    Praying and patiently waiting.
    Blessings!

  4. I have 4 girls, all grown and on their own. I raised them in the church and read the bible, prayed with them and for them. The 3 oldest were raised with a father that abused alcahol and drugs. He decided to leave after 26 years of marriage. The last one was raised with my husband now a man that loves and serves God. The oldest is 45, and twins are 43, the youngest is 33.
    They have all walked away from God. I’m still praying every day and will not give up on them and their 8 children, my God is able! I know they are in His care, I’ve finally stopped blaming myself and trusting God.Thanks for sharing your heart, keep me and my children in your prayers please. Karen

    1. Karen,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry your girls have all abandoned the faith, but I’m encouraged to hear you aren’t blaming yourself anymore. Keep praying. There is always hope as long as there is breath!
      God loves them more than you do too. That’s also a comfort.
      Barbara

  5. Our daughter has cut off communication with us. It hurts so badly. They have our only grandchild and expecting her second in December. We found out through a family member. We have tried to reestablish communication with them through her husband who appears to be the aggrieved party. They won’t talk to us. We have three other children who are so upset with this. Two have tried to contact their sister. She blames us for so much stuff and we can’t begin to understand it. We are on our knees now doing what you suggested. To trust God for the outcome. And it’s all for a higher purpose.

    1. Norma, we are going through this with our son and his wife. It is so painful. Keep praying and know God has a plan for all of us. We have hope that the relationships will be healed. Please know I will be praying for you and your family. God bless, Mary

    2. Norma,
      I do understand. Have been there.
      Let her have her distance and pray that God will do His work. It’s very common for 20 somethings to see the mistakes their parents made, real or perceived, and feel angry. Children all too easily see their parents as close to flawless and when that image falls it is hard to reconcile.
      Time will be your friend as she begins to see she can’t be perfect for her children either. She will try hard and fail. And then she will begin to understand you, how you felt, how you tried too.
      May you know God’s comfort and peace as you wait.
      And encourage your other children to love well even though they too hurt.
      Barbara

  6. Thank you for this! I have been struggling with not being so much involved in our 3 boys lives (ages 23, 21, and 19. I’ve thought about praying for them and have prayed for them. I like the ways you show us how to pray, what to pray for. Thank you!

    Mary

  7. Thank you so much for this post! My 3 children are young adults. 25-28. I pray they find Jesus and rely on him in their lives. They were raised in the faith but have varying faiths right now. The loss of control has brought me to my knees. I know God cam open their hearts. I send them some thoughts about Jesus by text or email sometimes. I try not not overwhelm them. But I know God is in control. I am trying to let go. Thank you for sharing. It is encouraging that even your faithful family is praying for your children. ❤️.

    1. Debbie,
      Thanks for writing. Watching our young adults make decisions we have no control over is very scary. Keep praying and remember that God loves them more than you do and He is at work bringing them to Himself. He is our only hope!
      Barbara

  8. Thank You Barbara, I have been struggling as a mother of 7, with the 3 eldest ( all boys) of adult age, 2 of which have left the family home. We did so much together and enjoyed the interaction of the older children with their younger siblings. But as a pioneering Christian homeschooling family, where the Word has been read together nearly every morning, plenty of Christian meetings and fellowship as our boys were growing up, I naively didn’t believe they would make foolish choices that would cause us to question if they had had any respect for Gods Word or Us as their parents at all! Now I am crying & praying before God for them to repent of sin & desire a relationship with their Heavenly Father. It hurts to hear & see them being attracted to the world rather than to God, which in turn affects their relationship with Us and their siblings.

    1. Elizabeth,
      I’m so sorry for this place you are in. It is of little comfort I know but you are not alone. This is a common experience for many parents today. And it is also common that most kids do some wandering as they figure out what they believe and value in life. As I wrote to another hurting mom, remember God loves them more than you do and He is working His plan for them even when we can’t see it. You’ve done good work as a mom as unto the Lord and He sees. Keep praying and trusting Him in all things.
      Barbara

  9. Thank you. So timely as my oldest is getting married and my youngest is a junior in HS. It’s hard to learn to step out of the circle but I’m encouraged that I can still embrace them with God directed prayer and promises. Thank you

  10. Barbara, Once again timely for me to read as this morning I dropped off my son to begin his Junior Year in College.
    I feel the older he gets, the more distant his wings take him. Of course we raise up our children for such a time as spreading their wings into adulthood, however it’s never an easy flight we watch. Bitter Sweet in many ways, but a reminder as you have written here, they still need our prayer covering more than before. I honestly have to say I was not as familiar with the book of Job to know his prayers for his own children were included in his legacy.
    Perhaps the best gift we can give our children is Prayer, even when they may not see it or touch it, it goes with them wherever they may be. Holy Spirit impress upon their hearts their need for wisdom and counsel from you!

    1. Noreen,
      I so agree with you. Their leaving is indeed bittersweet. May God bless your years of work for your children as you continue to invest through your prayers.
      Barbara

  11. This is perfect for where we are right now with 5 adult kids in the 20’s. Thank you so much for sharing this!!

    1. Carol,
      Thank YOU for reading. Glad this encouraged you and remember God has them all and is working in their hearts even when you can’t see it. He’s got them!
      We love you and Bret.

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