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. . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. — Ephesians 1:17-19
It is no secret that my favorite book about military life as a Christian is Footsteps of the Faithful by Denise McColl. In it there is a chapter by Denise’s husband, Angus, in which he shares his heart about the demands of parenting while living the calling of military duty:
At times I have really become frustrated in my role as a military man and Christian husband and father. It is nearly impossible to live up to the expectations being placed upon me by Christian peers while meeting the demands placed upon me by deployments and duty schedules when I am in port. . . I often wrestle with the natural conflict between my calling to be a military man and my calling to be a Christian husband and father. Yet I continue to see that the Lord has given me a calling to do both well. . . I have decided that the best thing that I can do as a military man who feels called by God to ‘stay with it,’ is to look for other ways in which I can minister to my wife and family rather than to be frustrated by the ways in which I can’t. (p. 109)
The greatest single ministry of any military husband or father is intercessory prayer for his wife and children. One of the truly great benefits of being separated for long periods of time is that my prayer life becomes very well focused. I believe that a dedicated, well-focused routine of prayer for one’s wife and children is probably the greatest single commitment one can make to one’s family. We know that when we are in God’s will he pays keen attention to each of our concerns. . . One of my greatest privileges as a parent has been to pray specifically for the long term needs of my children over a long period of absence, and then to return home to see how wonderfully God has provided. It is not that I long for these separations so that I can enjoy interceding for my family, but rather that given the fact that these separations are a part of my calling, I have chosen to enjoy the privilege of interceding for them. I encourage husbands and fathers to form good habits of interceding regularly for their families. (p. 113)
Recently I read a blog post entitled “The Most Important Prayer for Our Kids” by Christina Fox on “The Gospel Coalition” website. I immediately connected her prayer with the heart of Angus’ plea to use the time during deployment to pray for your children, whether husbands and fathers or wives and mothers.
Here is the prayer recently shared by Christina Fox:
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are a gracious and merciful God, whose love is unending. You are always patient with me, forgiving me time and time again. I am so thankful for Christ’s death, which opened the curtain into your presence, allowing me to call you Abba.
I come before you today to pray for my children. I confess that I so often pray about their health and behavior more than anything else. I’ve prayed for their healing from illness and from surgeries. I’ve prayed for particular behavioral changes. I’ve asked for help and wisdom in dealing with tantrums and defiance and in weeding out discontent and selfishness.
But increasingly, I’ve come to see that while those prayers are good, that you hear them and accept them, there is one prayer that stands above them all. While asking for healthy bodies and good behavior certainly makes my life easier, it doesn’t address my children’s most serious and deadly ailment: their heart.
The most important prayer I can pray for them is that they would see their sin and need for you. I ask that you humble them before you. Pierce their heart so they would see their need for the gospel of grace. I pray that they would know there is nothing they can do to earn your love or to keep your love. Each time they stumble into sin, draw them back to the gospel and foot of the cross. I pray that they would be overcome and overwhelmed by your love for them, that their love in response would overflow beyond measure.
I pray, along with Paul (Ephesians 1:17-19), that my children would know the hope that is theirs in Christ. I ask that your Spirit would enlighten them, grant them wisdom and understanding. Give them a desire to know you more deeply and intimately.
You have been teaching my own heart that change happens from the inside out. Help me to parent them in this way. I ask that you would give me grace to speak to their heart and model the grace of the gospel in all my interactions with them. Please keep me from being a barrier between them and you.
I thank you for the power of the gospel. May it be the motivation for my children’s growth in you as well as my own. I thank you that because of Jesus, all is grace.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Can you imagine praying that prayer, or your own similar version, for your children while deployed? or while at home? It might indeed be the most important prayer you could ever pray for them!
McColl, Denise, Footsteps of the Faithful: Victorious Living and the Military Life (Orlando: Campus Crusade for Christ Integrated Resources, 1994)
Questions to Share:
1. How has your spiritual life, and your prayer life in particular, grown during this time of deployment, whether you are home or away?
2. How could you take Ephesians 1:17-19 and pray for yourself during deployment?