By Deborah Haddix, Crosswalk.com
Sometimes I am overcome by the challenges facing my grandchildren.
Even the youngest face temptations. I’ve personally witnessed some of their battles with cheating, lying, disobedience, and disrespect.
And my school-age grandchildren? Sometimes, their challenges are enough to break my heart in two and catapult me into (Grand)Mama Bear mode.
Honestly, even my youngest elementary school-age grands face identity and image issues, challenges of character, sexual purity temptations, peer pressure, and the many crises of friendship.
I know you feel it, too. In addition to the challenges mentioned above, most of our grandchildren are facing issues related to materialism, busyness, family, and divorce. They are being assaulted continually by media and school curriculum that are aligned against Christian values. And some even face the very serious challenges of skepticism, cynicism, homelessness, depression, and suicide.
We hurt for them, children with weight heaped upon their shoulders – weight that is much too heavy even for adults to carry.
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The most powerful thing we can do for our grandchildren is to pray.
When we are overcome by the weight they carry, Ephesians 6 tells us that through prayer, Satan’s schemes and forces toward our grandchildren can be stopped. It is the means through which God is moved to shape lives.
We know prayer is powerful. We want to pray for our grandchildren. Yet, we’re just not sure how.
When your grandchildren face challenges, consider these eight ways to pray as you seek God’s power on their behalf:
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1. Record individual, or shared prayers in a journal.
Pray using a journal. There are many types of prayer journals, but no matter the type, a few things are common to all.
First, it is important to remember that prayer journals are working documents, not keepsakes. This is particularly important to keep in mind when using journals that incorporate photographs.
Prayer journals, no matter the type, serve as reminders to pray and help us stay focused during our prayers. In addition to providing a place for recording our grandchildren’s prayer requests and other prayer specifics, journals help us take a closer look at what is happening in our own mind and heart as we pray.
They also help our personal relationship with God to grow deeper and give us a beautiful visual record of God’s faithfulness in the lives of our family.
The following are three types of Prayer Journals that are well suited to praying for grandchildren facing challenges:
Traditional Prayer Journal
For this type of journal all you need is some type of book (a fancy store-bought journal, an inexpensive composition notebook, or anything in between) and something to write with.
To begin, simply section off your journal by categories. Consider including any of the following: requests, prayers, praises, answers to prayer, favorite Scriptures, favorite quotes, notes, photos.
In your journal, keep an ongoing record of your prayers for your grandchildren.
Note: A couple of very helpful tips for keeping this and other types of prayer journals are to:
- Include the date each time you make an entry into your prayer journal.
- Record answers to prayer requests in a second color of ink.
Picture Prayer Journal
A Picture Prayer Journal is perfect for the grandparent who is more visually wired.
Identical in purpose to the Traditional Prayer Journal, the difference lies in the set-up. Instead of being set up by categories, the Picture Prayer Journal is set up by child.
Begin each new section with an “info” page for one of your grandchildren. On this page, record the child’s name and birthday in an upper corner. In the opposite corner, attach a small photo of the child. On the remainder of that page and all subsequent pages, record prayer requests, praises, answers to prayer, and any other notes you like.
Set-up Note: Determine how many pages are in your new journal. Then divide that number by the number of grandchildren you are praying for. This will help you create balanced sections and enable you to use the book for a longer period of time.
Legacy Prayer Journal
Another take on prayer journals, the Legacy Prayer Journal is kept by multiple generations of a family: grandparents and grandchildren; or grandparents, parents, and grandchildren.
Like the Traditional Prayer Journal, this type of journal is sectioned off by categories. It is different, however, in the fact that it is not “private” to one individual. Rather, all family members make entries, pray, and praise together.
Keeping a Legacy Prayer Journal promotes communication, builds connection, and encourages modeling and discussion of prayer.
Note: You don’t have to live near your grandchildren to keep a Legacy Prayer Journal. Long-distance grandparents can make use of technology to elicit entries, pray, and share praises.
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2. Keep a prayer box.
For this creative prayer technique, any box/container will do – cardboard, plastic, decorated, undecorated, or store-bought. Additionally, you will need a bag of small stones or marbles. These will represent your prayer requests.
The method is simple. Place one of your chosen objects in the box for each request shared during prayer. For added impact, you might choose a second small object to represent “answers to your prayers.”
Over time, your box will become a “picture” of your prayers for your grandchildren.
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3. Remind yourself to pray by choosing ‘prayer triggers.’
Does your grandchild have a favorite song? If so, each time you hear the song take a moment to pray for him.
How about a favorite food or activity? If your grandchild is crazy about strawberries, pray when you eat strawberries. If another goes bonkers over baseball, then pray when you drive past a baseball game.
A prayer trigger is simply something you have identified as areminder to pray.
Photos are also a great trigger. Grandparents are notorious for having a multitude of photos of their grandchildren. Use the photos as reminders to pray.
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4. Pray the alphabet.
Use the alphabet as a framework for your prayer. Beginning with the letter A and working all the way through to Z, pray one specific thing for your grandchild. Each petition or offer of thanksgiving in your prayer should begin with the next letter of the alphabet until you have completed the alphabet.
An engaging way to pray over the challenges your grandchildren face, the letters of the alphabet prompt you to think specifically about struggles, needs, relationships, things you are grateful for and other details.
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5. Pray ‘in color.’
A prayer technique developed by Sybil MacBeth, Praying in Color invites us to keep our hands moving as we pray. As we doodle, draw, and/or color our “prayer,” we more easily stay focused on our prayer and the challenges facing our grandchildren.
Before you discount this method because you are “not an artist,” please know that neither am I. Yet this is one of my all-time favorite ways to pray for my grandchildren.
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6. Write a prayer.
Write out your prayer for your grandchild. Choose any form you like – journal entry, poem, Psalm, or letter.
Here are some quick tips for choosing the format of your written prayer:
Simply write what comes to mind as it comes to mind. Don’t worry about organizing your thoughts, mechanics, or writing conventions.
Remember that there are many styles of poetry. Don’t get locked into “everything must rhyme.” Think outside the box – haiku, acrostic, ABC, narrative, free form, and more.
A Psalm is a sacred song or poem used in worship.
Try addressing your prayer as a letter to your Heavenly Father or to the grandchild for whom you are praying.
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7. Commit to a 30-day prayer challenge.
If your grandchild is facing a particularly difficult challenge (and even if they are not), consider committing to 30 consecutive days of prayer on their behalf.
A free 30-Day Prayer Challenge booklet is available to help you in this purposeful, intentional, and specific work of prayer. The booklet contains 30 Scripture-based prayer prompts as well as other helpful resources.
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8. Pray with other grandparents on Grandparents’ Day of Prayer
Here’s another powerful way to pray for your grandchildren facing challenges. Grandparents’ Day of Prayer is observed annually on the second Sunday in September. This is the same day designated as National Grandparents’ Day by the United States, hopefully, making it a little easier to remember.
On this day, grandparents from around the globe unite in prayer with other grandparents to pray on behalf of their grandchildren.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” --Matthew 18:19-20
Corporate prayer, no matter the size of the group (two, six, or fifty), is a tremendous tool when praying for our grandchildren and the challenges they face.
More effective than throwing up our hands in despair or worrying about things over which we have no control, there is power in prayer. Power that unleashes eternity-impacting energy.
Deborah Haddix serves in the prayer ministry of Christian Grandparenting Network. She is also an author, blogger, speaker, and Christian Life Coach. Passionate about helping grandparents become more intentional and effective in carrying out their biblical role, Deborah developed the 30-Day Praying with Purpose Prayer Challenge for Grandparents and authored Praying Powerful Prayers for Your Grandchildren. Connect with Deborah at her website.
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