Beyond Safe: 6 Prayers for the Mom of the Graduate

“Lord, please keep him safe. . . .” This prayer has rolled off my lips often as a mother of six, at least twice in recent days as my twenty-two-year-old son has embarked upon solo, state-to-state drives too late at night on too little sleep. Isn’t a mother’s reflex to keep her children safe? From their earliest days into the teen years, we keep them safe: from getting cold, from getting hungry, from getting sick, from falling, from choking, from strangers, from bullies, from bad choices, from danger . . . or at least we think we do. 

Graduation season reminds me that once our children finish high school and move into adulthood—whether toward college, the working world, the military, or some other adventure, our prayers to “keep them safe” become wildly insufficient. Not because the dangers don’t increase as children reach adulthood—they certainly do. But because God has ordained for them so much more than a life free from harm. 

This idea was powerfully impressed upon my heart nearly two years ago when I heard a speaker quote author Gary Haugen from his book Just Courage. In it, Haugen spoke of the paradox between the mammoth effort we put into good parenting and, if we dig deep enough into our hearts, the reason many of us go to such great lengths: 

After we have poured into our children all the good food and shelter and clothing, after we have provided them with great education, discipline, structure and love, after we have worked so hard to provide every good thing, they turn to us and ask, “Why have you given all this to me?” 

And the honest answer from me is, “So you’ll be safe.” 

And my kid looks up at me and says, “Really? That’s it? You want me to be safe? Your grand ambition for me is that nothing bad happens?”1

Just days before hearing this, we had dropped off our firstborn son (the same one now zooming from state to state in the wee hours of the morning) at Bible college. He hadn’t decided exactly what he would pursue at that point, but his heart has always been drawn to cross-cultural missions or ministry, and I knew that his transition to college in another state was likely only the first in a series of opportunities in which the Lord would ask me to loosen my grip on my son’s hand. I’ve had to learn a new way to pray. 

6 Prayers for Your Child from Psalm 103

Perhaps you’re the mom of a 2023 graduate who finds herself like I was during that recent sleepless night: lying awake, paralyzed between two road signs: what if and what might be. I’m no expert, but as I’ve walked my first two sons out of high school and through several years of college, I’ve decided that I do indeed want more for them than safety; I’ve decided that “nothing bad” happening is not enough. I’m learning to pray boldly, even dangerously, for my children, and I believe that you can too. 

Psalm 103 provides a great framework for praying for our graduates and young adult children. Each stanza offers one (or more!) ways we can earnestly pray beyond simply “Keep them safe.”

1. May they not forget what we have taught them. 

My soul, bless the Lord,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
My soul, bless the Lord,
and do not forget all his benefits. —Psalm 103: 1–2

Perhaps you’ve spent years pointing your children to Jesus, blessing His name before them, and teaching them His Word. As David prays for himself, we can pray for our children: “do not forget all his benefits.” From Genesis 1:1 to the lyrics of “Jesus Loves Me,” we can trust that no bit of Bible truth they’ve learned will return empty (Isa. 55:11).

2. May they be redeemed, forgiven, and satisfied with good things. 

He forgives all your iniquity;
he heals all your diseases.
He redeems your life from the Pit;
he crowns you with faithful love and compassion.
He satisfies you with good things;
your youth is renewed like the eagle. —Psalm 103:3–5

If your child does not have a relationship with Jesus, his or her salvation will of course be at the top of your prayer list. Trust that God is the only one who can cleanse them of their sin, wash them white as snow, and redeem them from the Pit. If your child is a believer, rejoice! Pray that he or she will keep clean accounts before God and others and that by His faithful love and compassion, they will learn that true satisfaction only comes from Him. 

3. May they be recipients of God’s justice and mercy. 

The Lord executes acts of righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He revealed his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.
He will not always accuse us
or be angry forever.
He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our iniquities. —Psalm 103:6–10

Our children made mistakes (i.e. sinned) while under our care, and they will continue to do so with regularity as they navigate the physical, moral, and spiritual dilemmas of adulthood. The difference is that we will probably not be in such close proximity to “catch” or correct them. But God will. (He always has been!) You can be assured that your child’s sin will catch up with them (Num. 32:23), and when it does, our righteous, just, compassionate, and gracious God will respond with mercy. He can do nothing less. 

4. May they remember that they are dust. 

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his faithful love
toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed
our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.
For he knows what we are made of,
remembering that we are dust. (Psalm 103:11–14)

Think back to your child’s first day of kindergarten, or perhaps even earlier, to the first time you left him or her with a babysitter. What fears swirled in your mind? What if the babysitter doesn’t hear her crying? What if the teacher doesn’t know what my child needs? She doesn’t even know my child at all! It’s easy to think that we are handing our children over to the Lord, and like parents interacting with a babysitter, we need to leave a list of instructions “just in case.” Here’s the truth: God does not need our help understanding our children. He knows it all: their weaknesses, their tendencies, their fears, and even where they are likely to fall into sin. He remembers that they are dust. He remembers that you are too, mama. 

5. May they recognize the brevity of life and the expanse of eternity. 

As for man, his days are like grass—
he blooms like a flower of the field;
when the wind passes over it, it vanishes,
and its place is no longer known.
But from eternity to eternity
the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear him,
and his righteousness toward the grandchildren
of those who keep his covenant,
who remember to observe his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all. —Psalm 103:15–19

As smiling faces throw caution—and graduation caps—to the wind, their heads are filled with hopes and dreams for a long and prosperous life. Middle age? It’s lightyears away. Getting old? Never! Yet those of us who are further down the road live with an ever-growing awareness of just how short and delicate life is. As parents, this might tempt us to urge caution, restraint. But have we forgotten? Our children only have this short life to impact this world for Christ. Their days, like ours, are vanishing! This is no time for safety. This is the time for them to do good work for the kingdom, to spend every breath they have for Jesus, to truly risk something for the sake of the gospel. Their job is to fear Him, serve Him, and walk in His ways, and they can rest assured He is leaning in, ready to lavish his faithful love and righteousness upon them. 

6. May they always acknowledge Heaven’s rule. 

Bless the Lord,
all his angels of great strength,
who do his word,
obedient to his command.
Bless the Lord, all his armies,
his servants who do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works
in all the places where he rules.
My soul, bless the Lord! —Psalm 103:20–22

Our children can advance with boldness into the next season of their lives, practicing the simple obedience they learned within the kingdom training ground of our homes. Whether they’re entering a physically dangerous occupation, a mentally rigorous profession, or simply living for Christ in a culture that is increasingly hostile toward His Word and ways, they can bless the Lord while living out His Word, being obedient to His commands, doing His will, and proclaiming His works “in all the places where he rules”—and that’s everywhere. 

Did you hear that, mom? Everywhere. That’s where Heaven rules. And the God of Heaven can answer our prayers—for safety, yes, but so much more. He can answer even the most dangerous prayers we can think to pray for our child’s good and for His glory. 

Was this article encouraging to you? If so, share it with a fellow mom of a graduate . . . and then thank a monthly partner! Revive Partners provide for the ongoing needs of the ministry through prayer and monthly financial gifts that allow Revive Our Hearts to publish high-quality, trusted content like this on a daily basis. To learn more about how you can join Laura in becoming a Revive Partner, visit

 1 Gary A. Haugen, Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian (Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2008), 124–125.

About the Author

Laura Elliott

Laura Elliott

Born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Laura Elliott and her husband, Michael, now call Minnesota home. Laura is the mother of five sons and one daughter and serves as the marketing content manager for Revive Our Hearts. In … read more …

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