When my daughter was in high school, I noticed that, like a typical teenager, she was very impressed with Hollywood, celebrities, fashion, and all that goes with a love and admiration for the world. Rather than insert my opinions into what I believed should be her priorities and what I hoped she would spend less time and energy on, I began to pray 1 John 2:15-16 over her: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world…” I didn’t see immediate results, but instead of talking to her about God and His Word, I talked to God about her and His Word. And I continued to pray that verse in connection with her life and priorities. Within a year of beginning to pray that verse over her life, she chose a Christian university to attend, went on an overseas community service project in which she shared the love of Jesus with Muslim teenagers, and she came home a different young woman—one who was ready to live simply, biblically, and without an interest in the world and what it had to offer.
Ask God for specific scriptures to pray concerning your loved ones. There is power in Scripture and God says “It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
5. Pray for their hearts, not just their health and material needs.
We tend to ask others to pray for us for the physical – our health, our relationships, our financial provision, our vocation, and so on. Others may ask you to pray for certain things they believe they need or want. Yet our hearts are most important to God and He will often answer in a way that most benefits our relationship with Him.
As a mom, I often pray for my adult daughter’s financial situation. I pray that God will give her wisdom when it comes to saving, spending, and exercising proper stewardship over all God has given her. Mostly, I pray God will provide all she needs. But more important than her material provision is her spiritual condition. When I think back to my financial concerns when I was in my 20s and 30s, I realize those concerns (and many times, anxieties) taught me how to pray and rely on God when I couldn’t make things happen myself. Now, instead of praying, “God please provide all she needs,” the prayer is, “Do whatever it takes in her life to keep her closely knit to You, relying on You, praising You, and discovering daily that You are capable of sustaining her through the ups and downs in her life.”
Pray for others’ spiritual condition, not just for their physical or emotional condition, so that you can echo the Apostle John’s words in 3 John 1:4: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children [or other loved ones] walking in the truth.”
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