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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10 thoughts on “Praying For Your Adult Children”

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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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