The new clothes have been purchased and are all lined up in the closet. The pencil top erasers are all ready to remove some rare mistakes. The trapper keepers are all stocked with lined and ruled notebook paper. Okay, maybe not trapper keepers . . . But some of you knew what I was talking about . . .
Back to school is in full swing and the first day of school looms large. For some of us, this is a big deal. With a son entering his first year of high school after being homeschooled for most of his academic life, it is a bit intimidating.
I routinely pray for my children and even have some set things that I pray for them most days. But as I enter this new phase of sending my son into the mix I have thought of some prayers that probably will not be helpful or beneficial. Do we consider what we really desire for our kids? The following list of prayers that I would not recommend is meant to be facetious, but I hope you can see through it to what we really ought to want for our sons and daughters.
Pray that they would be popular!
Everyone wants their kids to be liked. If they are not popular in high school, then what hope do they have for success out in the world!? If our kids miss out on parties and otherwise remain their goofy selves on into the high school years, think of all the opportunities they might miss out on. How could they possibly be socialized correctly if their peers don’t recognize how completely awesome they are?
2. Pray that they are the top of their class!
We all know that our kids are well above average and most of us know that our kids should be the best in their class! But if our kids happen to not be the best we should pray that they quickly rise to that place that they deserve. If our kids are not the best in every subject what kind of career future could they possibly have!? The real purpose of school, after all, is academics. So we should all be praying that our kids would be way ahead of their peers.
3. Pray that their sports teams win it all!
There are so many sports to choose from that every kid can be an aspiring professional. We all know that a loss can be really damaging to a young psyche so we should all be praying that our children win at everything. We wouldn’t want their fragile state of mind to be burdened by anything as cumbersome as a loss. So of course we will all be praying that our kid’s team wins, right!?
4. Pray that they have a really fun year!
High School is the wonder years, right? First dances, first dates, parties, first wheels, first broken curfew, first time being grounded for a month in the summer and staining the entire deck because you took your parents car to your girlfriends house without their permission . . . Wait . . . What were we talking about. Oh, fun! If our kids don’t have fun in high school then they will have all kinds of repressed feelings and probably grow up to have deep seated antisocial tendencies. Of course we will be praying for fun for our kids this school year. After all, we are American, and American means FUN!
5. Pray that they get to do it all!
We must completely suck the marrow out of the school years. I mean we must soak up every single drop of opportunity so that we can slide into graduation with a frozen grin of exhaustion, and by “we” I mean “our kids”! We ought to pray that our kids get so many opportunities and are able to be involved in so many extra curricular activities that they graduate with a deep sense of their multifaceted interests. How else are our kids going to know if they are a chess master who plays left tackle, pole vaults, plays the piccolo, and enjoys student government, unless they get these opportunities in school!?
But as I think about another school year, I am praying that my kids will find friends that lead them toward Christ instead of away from Christ. I love the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. Three young Hebrew boys who stood together in unity and refused to bow to the idol of their culture. I pray that my kids will all find others who will stand together with them for the truth and against the lies. I do not much care for my kid’s popularity.
I pray that my kids apply themselves well to their studies. My kids are all pretty bright. Like many parents, I am filled with anticipation eagerly awaiting what God is going to do with each of my children. But my prayer for them now is that they learn the discipline and motivation to do the best they can. That is not likely to be the best in everything they do. I am not much concerned for where my kids land in the heap of other kids. I am concerned and therefore pray that they would do their best and even learn to honor God in that!
My kids are not into sports all that much, which gives our family some amazingly refreshing down time. But with band competitions and upward basketball there is still room for my kids to hunger for the victory. But my prayer is that my kids learn to win gracefully and lose gracefully. I want them to experience failure and success. I pray that they would avoid a pride that drives them into their own accomplishments, but equally I pray that they would avoid becoming defeated in such a way that leads them to apathy. I am not much concerned that my kids would just keep on winning.
I like to have fun and I think we have quite a bit of fun as a family. But fun is not the end all of human existence. In America we seem to gauge and measure everything according to its entertainment value. Some may even be in counseling because they didn’t have enough fun in school. My middle school and high school years were quite miserable socially. I do not look back to those as golden years of social formation. And yet I enjoy my life and have made some good friends along the way. I pray that my kids will have good balance. I would rather them be on the sidelines of the party scene than have tons of fun which is often right on the edge of tons of trouble. I am not much concerned that my kids look back at their school years as the most fun.
I am praying that my kids get an opportunity to get involved in the things that they enjoy and that when they stop enjoying them they feel the freedom to let me know. I have no specific agenda that my kids need to be in band, basketball, drama, chess club, lacrosse, soccer, or whatever. If they want to try something, great! If not great. I am not much concerned that my kids get a chance to do it all.
If you are praying for your kids at the start of this school year, that is a great thing! What do you want for your kids in this next school year? The main thing is that you are turning to God for the results.