Revive Our Hearts Podcast

How to Pray for Your Children, Day 4

Leslie Basham: Fern Nichols founded of Moms in Pryaer International, and she describes what their prayer meetings are like.

Fern Nichols: We gather together. We pick up one child at a time, and we all bring that child to Jesus, whatever the need is, and then we leave with expectant anticipation that God is going to do a miracle, leaving that to His timing—that’s the hard part because we want to go home and see it immediately changed, but that’s not the way it is. It is a privilege to pick up the corner of a mat of another mom’s child and bring that child to Jesus with them.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, July 21, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Today we’re going to be talking about an important and practical topic—one that hits a lot of women in a tender place in their hearts. We're talking about praying for your children, including prodigal children. As you listen, I want to encourage you to remember the power of your prayers to be part of bringing about God’s will in the lives of these kids. On Friday evening, September 23, women all across this country and around the world will be joining together to cry out to the Lord.

I want your voice to be among those who are praying with us that evening. That's when Revive Our Hearts, along with several other ministries, will be hosting what we are calling Cry Out! A Nationwide Prayer Event for Women. I want to encourage you to clear your schedule and plan to join us that evening by means of this free simulcast. You can access it online at ReviveOurHearts.com at no charge. Then I want to encourage you to organize a group of women in your community to come together that evening to pray that the Lord would visit out land in revival and that He would intervene in the affairs of our nation and our world. Your group will be joining in a free simulcast prayer event along with what we trust will be thousands of other groups. To get all the details of what's involved and to get your questions answered, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: And today one of our guests will be involved in the Cry Out! prayer event. Marlae Gritter is Director of Global Advancement for Moms in Prayer International and she’ll help us cry out for our children on September 23. Today we’ll hear a classic conversation from our archives between Marlae, Nancy, and the founder of Moms in Prayer International, Fern Nichols. When they recorded this conversation, their organization was called Moms in Touch International, and you’ll hear them refer to it that way in the interview. Yesterday, we heard Nancy talking with these two moms about the joy they felt when their children surrendered their lives to the Lord after a long period of prayer and waiting.

Nancy: Let’s say a word to the mom who is listening right now who says, “Well, that’s nice, your kids came back, but I’m still in the waiting room, and it’s hard, and I don’t see any change. I don’t see anything happening.” Just a word of encouragement to what I know is not just one mom, but a lot of moms in that place right now.

Fern: The first thing that comes to my mind is fall into the safety net of God’s sovereignty. When you’re feeling like you’re sinking in all the things that Satan wants to discourage you with, fall into God’s . . . you are doing what is right: you’re loving the child, you’re praying for the child—fall into God’s safety net of sovereignty.

I think that’s what Moms in Touch has helped us all so much with is learning those names of God, not only learning them, but living them out. God says, “I am sovereign.” God says, “I am Faithful. I am omnipotent.” It might not be until eternity. I think you just have to go there because what will happen is, it will affect your prayer life. So you need to fall, I think, into the sovereignty of that sovereign net, or any name of God that will keep you strong in this time of testing. It’s a time of testing. "Will you trust Me?" Will you trust the God you know? If you will trust the God you know, you will be at peace.

Nancy: Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen with your child.

Fern: Regardless. A lot of this, too, is our relationship with our heavenly Father. Yes, we’re standing in the gap for our children, but God is also about conforming us to the image of His Son. It’s about us being changed from glory to glory, and we need to get on the same train with that, because truly, that’s where happiness is.

Happiness should not be if our children are walking with the Lord or not. Yes, that’s part of it, and we want them to because we know they’re unhappy and they’re not fulfilling the destiny that God has for them, but it’s also about a sweet, tender, loving relationship with the heavenly Father.

Nancy: I found myself talking in recent weeks with a number of moms who have young adult children who are not walking with the Lord, and there’s a razor thin edge. I think what the enemy does, it seems to me, is to keep women under this general cloud of guilt, condemnation, and it’s just kind of smothering. It’s like this fog we had here yesterday in Michigan; you can’t see your way out of it, and I said, that’s not God. That’s the enemy.

It isn’t to say that there aren’t issues that you do need to repent of, but I find that God’s Spirit, His conviction is pinpointed. He brings His conviction by His Spirit into specific areas of my life, and then I can confess those, repent of them, get God’s forgiveness, and move on.

The devil wants to keep you living in this kind of no-man’s land of this vaporous guilt all around you, swirling and controlling your thoughts, your emotions, and your relationships—that’s not from God. God wants you to deal with issues.

Isn’t it true that children are heavenly sandpaper and that God uses them to deal with rough edges in your life and to sanctify you? Let God show you areas where He does want to change you, but then don’t live under the condemnation and the guilt of sin that has been confessed.

I’d like to make one other point. As I’ve listened to a lot of moms talking about the burden they carry for their children, especially as they get to be young adult children . . . By the way, when your children are little, you think that’s the hardest season you could possibly have in life, But as I’m watching my peers now, their kids are in their twenties and thirties, and as these mom have been pouring out their hearts, one thing I’ve really been burdened about is that we not assume that those children do have a relationship with Christ.

They may have prayed a prayer at a young age, and they may in fact have been born into the family of God, but only God knows that for sure. Unless God gives you the assurance, not based on a prayer that they prayed, or a moment that you remember, but unless God’s Spirit gives you the assurance in your heart that there is a genuine vital faith there, then I would encourage you to be praying that if they need to be saved, God would convict them that they’re lost and bring them to salvation.

This generation has grown up in a whole era where there is this concept, this mindset in the evangelical world today that you can be a Christian because you prayed a prayer, or you made a decision, or you signed something, or you joined something, and not have any evidence to back it up. The Scripture does not know anything of that concept.

According to the Scripture, if there is no evidence in your life, if there is prolonged lack of repentance and lack of obedience, and patterns of living your own life and living for the world instead of living for Christ, the Scripture says you have no basis biblically that you have assurance that you are a child of God.

I believe that there are many, many, many young people who have grown up in our Christian homes, made a profession of faith, but who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. By the way, I think that’s true of a lot of parents, too. I’m not just saying that about the younger generation. This whole thing that you can just live this carnal lukewarm life, whatever that is, for years and years and years, and give no evidence of true conversion, and still say that you’re a Christian, that is not biblical.

God knows whether they are or aren’t, but I think there are some moms who need to open their hearts to the possibility that maybe that child does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—so you know how to pray. You’re not the one who is going to tell them that. You’re asking the Holy Spirit, “Lord, open their eyes, and if they never have received genuine faith, would You convict them. Convict them if they’re lost.”

That’s what the Holy Spirit came to do, to convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. It’s not what God gave moms the job of doing. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. But you’re praying, “Lord, if this child is lost, if they don’t have a relationship with You, then they can’t be righteous apart from Christ living in them.” So for some of these kids, we need to be praying, “Lord, would You show them what their true heart condition is, and if they’re lost, convict them of that”—they have to get lost before they can get saved—“and bring them to see their need for a Savior.”

If they do have a relationship with Christ, one of the proofs of that will be that in time they will come back, because God will chasten them. If they don’t respond to the chastening that God gives to His own children, Scripture says sometimes people even actually lose their lives, because God will not let one of His children go on indefinitely in an unrepentant state. That’s a serious thing.

Now, as a mom—whew—how do you pray about those things? Do you want the glory of God enough in your life and in this world and in your child’s life to say, “Lord, You know what this child needs, and You know what will bring the most glory to You. I release this child to Your hands and Your sovereign love and Your good pleasure and Your will, knowing that You’re too wise to make a mistake, and You’re too loving to be unkind. Lord, in Your goodness and Your loving kindness, Your compassion, and Your tender mercies, and Your justice, will You do whatever is needed so that my child can bring You glory?”

That can’t be an easy prayer to pray, but I think it’s a right prayer to pray. This is where we get serious about waging battle, waging war. As you’re praying, one of the things I think is happening is you’re letting God search your heart and expose motives. Why do I want this child to come back? Do I want to look good? I think every mom wrestles with tainted motives, as we all do, so I’m not saying the motives will be perfect, but prayer is a means of God searching our own hearts and showing us what’s really there.

Stephani: This is just a comment about praying for a child. One of our children, when they got to a certain age as a young adult, felt like they had missed out on a lot in life because they grew up in a missionary home. It’s really hard to see them feel that. One thing that God’s done in my life because of that, before, when our kids were younger, and I would hear of someone who had a teenager or a young adult that was really having problems. In the back of my mind I would think, Well, you know there are some things they could have done differently probably. That’s probably true, but not always.

A lot of times people are really trying to do exactly what God wants them to do and there are other influences and things. One of the things God is doing is now when I hear a mom talk about a teenager or young adult who’s not walking with Christ, it’s like a knife in my heart. Usually the tears come, and I just start to weep because now I know how that feels. I realize, what’s more important than your kids having a heart for God. When they’re not, it’s so painful. So I’m glad God is doing that in my heart, that now I'm not just thinking, Oh, well, they should have done things differently. Now, I'm in it with them, even if I don't know the child. And when I hear of someone that loses a child through a car accident or something, I can hardly take that if I don't know the person, because young life is so precious. I’m just thankful for people who pray for each other’s children.

Nancy: Paul talks in 2 Corinthians 1 about how we comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted in our affliction. I know that even as a result of you, Fern, and you, Marlae, having walked through some tearful times with your children, you’re probably able to give encouragement and hope and comfort to people who’ve been there, in a way that you might not have been able to do if your children had all just been textbook followers of Christ.

Fern: We would have loved that, but we would have missed out on God’s perfect plan.

Nancy: I wonder if you wouldn’t have missed out on things, ways God was wanting to sanctify you in the process.

Marlae Gritter: Oh, definitely.

Fern: I so agree with that. It says if we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us. We want our prayers to be effective. The fervent prayer of a righteous woman is dynamic in its power, but I think maybe, without meaning to, we slip over the word righteous.

We are righteous in God’s eyes because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That position will never change, but our daily condition can change. What if I was in this self-pity mode when I was talking to the Lord about Ty and just kind of blaming God for everything. When I think back on it, I would never have heard the Holy Spirit say, “Get up and go write him a note.” So it is really very important that we walk righteously and make sure that all known sin is confessed in our life.

Nancy: That’s why David said, “It’s good for me that I have been afflicted, so that I might learn your law” (Ps. 119:71). There are some aspects of the hand and the way of God, I think, that we never see as long as the sun is shining and there’s money in the bank and everybody has peaceful, great relationships. What does the psalmist say over and over again, “When I was in distress I cried out to You, Oh Lord.” We shouldn’t have to be in distress before we do cry out to the Lord, but there’s something about affliction that makes us desperate, that makes us more open, more tender, more pliable, more broken. That opens the way of God's blessings in our lives.

Marlae: And control is huge. I think us moms (I'll speak for myself), I pretty much thought I had it figured out. But that was a huge lesson He wanted to teach me. Surrender . . . that's the place you have to get to, because there really was nothing I could do. I could love, and I could pray. I had to let go of, this isn't how I wanted it to be. I didn't want to feel this way and have this child that wasn't fitting the mold. That's a huge thing I had to learn . . . the surrender.

Nancy: And you couldn't fix it.

Marlae: I couldn't fix it, and I'm a fixer. It was a surrendering all the time. I know that because I lived the battle. Mornings were horrible. If I could get her out the door, then I would have a good cry. I would go down to her room and literally pound on her table and say, "Satan, you are not going to have my daughter." It made me get mad. We need to get mad, because we can be ho-hum. It's a battle, and the battle is heating up. He's after our next generation. The last thing he wants is our kids on fire for the Lord. We have to share about the battle with each other and encourage each other in the battle and wake up! That's what it will cause you to do if you are in it.

Nancy: If you think in terms of strategy, if Satan wanted to wipe out Christianity, one way to do it is just to cause the next generation not to follow Christ. We die off, and who's left? God's way of promolgating the gospel from one generation to the next is parents who tell their children, who tell their children, who tell their children. They believe. They are children of the covenant and they follow Christ, and they bring the next generation to follow Christ.

If one generation has their faith wiped out, then Christianity is gone. So it is pretty smart on the part of the enemy, if you ask me, is to work on those young people—deceiving them, disillustioning them, turning them off to Christ, and having their parents wringing their hands and in despair or saying, "Que sera sera—we can't change this."

What can we do? Well, what we can do is get on our knees and get a hold of God and say, “Lord, we will not let You go until You come and bless.” I think of that passage in Isaiah 62:6–7, where Isaiah says, “You who [remind the Lord,] take no rest, and give Him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise on the earth.” He says, “You are reminding the Lord. You’re bringing this child before Him, you’re bringing this generation before Him, and,” he says, “don’t take rest. Don’t stop.”

The verse, Fern, that is the Moms in Touch verse—Lamentations 2:19: “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches!” and give Him no rest until He comes and answers. That’s quite a thought. God’s not going to sleep anyway, but the thought that, like that widow in Luke 18, we would keep knocking on the door of the Lord.

I shared on Revive Our Hearts before this story from years ago. I loved the old Dr. W. A. Criswold, who was a pastor for many years of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. He was this venerable old man. I don’t know what that word means, but Dr. Criswold was venerable—the white hair, and the voice that sounded like God.

I was in his office one day. They had a revival meeting coming up in their church the next week, and he was asking me to pray. He said, “We need revival in our church.” Then I remember him just saying, as only Dr. Criswold could say, “Nancy, we’ve got to pray, and we’ve got to pray, and we’ve got to pray until God says, ‘I do believe they’re going to knock the door down if I don’t come and answer.’”

That was probably thirty years ago he said that to me, and I’ve never forgotten it, and isn’t that the heart of Moms in Touch? We’ve got to pray until God says, “They’re keeping Me awake. They’re not giving Me any rest. They’re going to knock the door down if I don’t come and answer.”

God is not like that unjust judge in Luke 18. He loves to answer the prayers of His children. He’s a willing God, but there’s something in God’s ways that wants to know that this really matters to us and that we’re not content to go on our way and let Satan just have these children. He’s pounding the fist on the table. You can’t do that every waking moment, and there’s a balance between that, and the other side is saying, “Lord, I release this burden to You. I can’t do what You can do.”

As a mom, where is all that balance? When do you pound the table? When do you say, “Lord, it’s up to You”? I don’t know where all that balance is, but I know one thing: You don’t stop praying. You keep praying. You keep crying out to the Lord, and you do it together with others, and I think that’s something that Moms in Touch has taught us, that you don’t just carry this burden on your own.

I’ve said to so many women over the years who are carrying this silent, secret, private pain that was referred to here a bit ago. It’s heavy on their hearts, and they’re living with it all the time at this season of their lives, but they’re ashamed, afraid, or embarrassed or whatever to tell others, or just think, Who else cares? Everybody else has their own burdens.

But what Moms in Touch has shown us is that there are others who will care; there are others who do care; and there are others who will lift up that burden with you. There is power in people coming together and people praying in one accord. I’ve said to many moms over the years, “Find someone else. Find another mom. Find another group of moms who are in the same season of life who will pray with you. Find an older mom. Find a younger mom. Find a single woman. Find another woman, or a few, who will pray with you, and perhaps even fast at times, as the Lord directs, and link arms.”

In fact, there’s a wonderful story in the gospels about some people who linked hands together to get a man to Jesus. Fern, I’ve heard you tell this story, tell it to us now. I don’t get tired of hearing it, because I think it’s such a great example for moms.

Fern: I love this story because it speaks of intercessors. There is a man in Mark 2, a paralytic who could not walk, diseased, and he had four friends. These four friends wanted to take their sick friend to Jesus.

In the hearts of these four men, there was this knowing that if they could take their friend to Jesus, Jesus could touch him and Jesus could heal him, and Jesus could deliver him and make him whole. So they didn’t just sit around thinking about it; they did something. They went to the man and brought a mat, and if you visualize a mat with me, they placed carefully this friend on the mat. They each picked up a corner of the mat, and the friend was easily lifted up.

Now let’s say there was one friend that said, “Boy, I’ve got to get my friend to Jesus. Jesus can touch him. He’ll deliver and make him whole,” and he brings the mat, and he puts his friend on the mat—can you visualize it? He’s pulling and pulling. He’s heavy, heavy, heavy. The idea of being alone. Yes, it mattered; he made some inches; he made some feet, but how the burden was lighter when each took a corner of the mat and lifted that man and took him to Jesus.

The other thing I love about these men is that when they got to where Jesus was, and they saw that they couldn’t get their friend through to Jesus because of the crowd, they didn’t say, “Oh my goodness, this is too much of an effort. There’s too many people. I guess we need to go home. Maybe we’ll try another time.”

No. They were determined. They were knocking. They were going to get this friend to Jesus. You know the story of how they dug a hole in the roof of another man’s house. How audacious is that? Can you imagine? You’re standing there listening to Jesus, and maybe seeing a miracle or hearing a wonderful truth that He is sharing, or maybe just gazing into His eyes. Then all of a sudden things are falling in your hair, and you look up, and you see this hole becoming bigger and bigger and bigger, and then this man coming down right in front of Jesus.

I can just imagine Jesus being so delighted with the whole situation. First of all, the creative idea of going to the roof with this man, digging a hole, figuring out the ropes and letting him down because they wanted their friend to be first. Not only did Jesus in the passage say that He forgave the man his sin, but that He was God. That is why He wanted to forgive his sins, to let them know that He was God, because only God could forgive sin. "To prove that I’m God, I’m going to heal him."

I can just visualize this: He looks up at the four friends, and I believe with expectant faces, expecting a miracle. He says to them, and I love these words in the passage, “Because of your faith.” Interesting, huh? Not the sick man’s faith. “Because of your faith, I will heal this man,” and He did.

It’s like in Moms in Touch. We gather together. We pick up one child at a time, and we all bring that child to Jesus, whatever the need is. Then we leave with expectant anticipation that God is going to do a miracle, leaving that to His timing.

Leaving that to His timing, that’s the hard part, because we want to go home and see it immediately changed, you know, but that’s not the way it is. It is a privilege to pick up the corner of a mat of another mom’s child and bring that child to Jesus with them.

Leslie: We’ve been hearing from two moms about the power of prayer. Marlae Gritter is the Director for Global Development for Moms in Prayer International. Fern Nichols is the founder of Moms in Prayer. They’ve been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about how important it is for moms to be on their knees.

We’ve been able to bring you this conversation today thanks to listeners who benefit from Revive Our Hearts and would like to see the ministry continue. By partnering with us you’re able to help us speak to women like the one who wrote and said:

I started listening to your broadcast last year, when I was pregnant with my now nine-month-old son. I was struck with how much you loved the Lord and His Word. I’ve been a Christian for only a few years and I have been hungry for His Word. Thank you, Nancy, for faithfully proclaiming God’s Word every day. When my son was born and I was awake many times during the night I listened to your podcasts all the time. 

Just think of the benefit this mom gets, hearing God’s Word taught and discussed day by day and then passing it on to her son. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll show our thanks by sending you a book by our guest Fern Nichols. It’s called A Mom’s Little Book of Powerful Prayers. In this book you’ll find Scripture-based prayers for different aspects of your child’s life. You’ll find prayers related to their protection, challenges they face, their health, friendships, anger, fears, and a lot more. If today’s program has encouraged you to pray for your kids more, this would be a great way to take the next step. Ask for A Mom’s Little Book of Powerful Prayers when you call with your gift of any size. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you ever find prayer difficult, be sure to listen tomorrow. Our guest, Fern Nichols, will share four principles to make prayer less intimidating. I hope you’ll join us next time for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.