I’m told that in the moments following my birth, my parents laid me in a little bundle on my mother’s chest, placed their hands on my tiny body, and prayed for me. They prayed over my life’s direction and purpose and for the formation of my faith. They prayed for God’s provision and protection. It’s a wonderful, comforting piece of my history I’ve carried with me all these years. At times, though, it can also make me feel uneasy.

I am not the most consistent praying parent. I meet with God and hear from him most often through quiet study and reading. Prayer, however, is a discipline I’m still trying to master. I identify with the words of Barbara Brown Taylor who wrote this about prayer in her book on spiritual practices: “I would rather show someone my checkbook stubs than talk about my prayer life. I would rather confess that I am a rotten godmother, that I struggle with my weight, that I fear I am overly fond of gin martinis than confess that I am a prayer weakling.”

Of course even those of us who feel like prayer weaklings eventually fall to our knees, either metaphorically or literally, when the intensity of our pain, need, or want rises to a certain degree, especially when it comes to our kids.

Through much of my own knee-collapsing over the years, I’ve come to see prayer less as a duty and more as an exercise in submission that fosters intimacy with God like nothing else. The gift of prayer is the reminder that I belong to the Lord, who gently waits for me to bring my deepest fears, shame, or longings to him.

I’ve prayed the same reality would be true for my children—that the grace found in God’s presence would draw them in like no other; that ...

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