Fewer things could more important than parents praying for their children. And yet I fear the majority of Christian parents neglect this most important parental duty. If we would have our children come to a saving knowledge of the truth, we must first avail ourselves of this vital means of grace.
I have used Matthew Henry’s A Method for Prayer for some time. It is an invaluable aid to Bible-saturated prayer. Below is a prayer he offers for parents to lift up on behalf of their children. Matthew Henry being a Presbyterian, of course makes reference to his children being baptized. We of the Baptist persuasion of course can of course adapt those portions of the prayer for our own use. Notwithstanding this one point, here is an excellent and comprehensive prayer that we may lift to God on behalf of our children.
A prayer proper to be put up by parents for their children.
O Lord our God, the God of the spirits of all flesh! All souls are thine, the souls of the parents and the souls of the children are thine, and thou hast grace sufficient for both.
Thou wast our fathers’ God, and as such we will exalt thee; thou art our children’s God, and also we will plead with thee, for the promises to us and our children; and thou art a God in covenant with believers and their seed.
Lord, it is thy good providence that hath built us up into a family: We thank thee for the children thou hast graciously given thy servants; the Lord, who has blessed us with them, make them blessings indeed to us, that we may never be tempted to wish we had been childless.
We lament the iniquity which our children are conceived and born in, and that corrupt nature which they derive through our loins.
But we bless thee that there is a fountain opened for their cleansing from that original pollution, and that they were betimes by baptism dedicated to thee, and admitted into the bonds, and under the blessings, of thy covenant; that they are born in thy house and taken in as members of thy family upon earth.
It is a comfort to us to think that they are baptized, and we humbly desire to plead it with thee. They are thine; save them; enable them, as they become capable, to make it their own act and deed, to join themselves unto the Lord, that they may be owned as thine in that day when thou makest up thy jewels.
Give them a good capacity of mind and a good disposition, make them towardly and tractable and willing to receive instruction; incline them betimes to religion and virtue. Lord, give them wisdom and understanding, and drive out the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts.
Save them from the vanity which childhood and youth are subject to, and fit them every way to live comfortably and usefully in this world. We ask not for great things in this world for them; give them, if it please thee, a strong and healthy constitution of body, preserve them from all ill accidents, and feed them with food convenient for them, according to their rank.
But the chief thing we ask of God for them is that thou wilt pour thy Spirit upon our seed, even thy blessing, that blessing of blessings, upon our offspring, that they may be a seed to serve thee, which shall be accounted unto the Lord for a generation: Give them that good part which never shall be taken away from them.
Give us wisdom and grace to bring them up in thy fear, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, with meekness and tenderness, and having them in subjection with all gravity. Teach us how to teach them the things of God as they are able to bear them, and how to reprove and admonish, and when there is need, to correct them in a right manner, and how to set them good examples of every thing that is virtuous and praiseworthy, that we may recommend religion to them, and so train them up in the way wherein they should go, that if they live to be old, they may not depart from it.
Keep them from the snare of evil company and all the temptations to which they are exposed, and make them betimes sensible how much it is their interest, as well as their duty, to be religious; and, Lord, grant that none who come of us may come short of eternal life or be found on the left hand of Christ in the great day.
We earnestly pray that Christ may be formed in their souls betimes, and that the seeds of grace may be sown in their hearts while they are young, and we may have the satisfaction of seeing them walking in the truth and setting their faces heavenwards. Give them now to hear counsel and receive instruction, that they may be wise in their latter end; and if they be wise, our hearts shall rejoice, even ours.
Prosper the means of their education; let our children be taught of the Lord, that great may be their peace: And give them so to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent, as may be life eternal to them.
O that they may betimes get wisdom and get understanding and never forget it. As far as they are taught the truth as it is in Jesus, give them to continue in the things which they have learned.
It is our heart’s desire and prayer that our children may be praising God on earth when we are gone to praise him in heaven, and that we and they may be together for ever, serving him day and night in his temple.
If it should please God to remove any of them from us while they are young, let us have grace submissively to resign them to thee, and let us have hope in their death.
If thou remove us from them while they are young, be thou thyself a Father to them, to teach them and provide for them, for with thee the fatherless findeth mercy.
Thou knowest our care concerning them, we cast it upon thee; ourselves and ours we commit to thee. Let not the light of our family religion be put out with us, nor that treasure be buried in our graves, but let those that come after us do thee more and better service in their day than we have done in ours, and be unto thee for a name and a praise.
In these prayers we aim at thy glory. Father, let thy name be sanctified in our family, there let thy kingdom come and thy will be done by us and ours, as it is done by the angels in heaven; for Christ Jesus’ sake, our blessed Saviour and Redeemer, whose seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. Now to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that great and sacred name, into which we and our children were baptized, be honour and glory, dominion and praise, henceforth and forever. Amen.
Matthew HenryA Method for Prayer