By Sarah Robinson
I decided to spend 30 days in focused prayer for my son. I went into it expecting all kinds of amazing things—namely, a perfect teenager who did just what I asked with a smile on his face. One who dutifully studied his Scriptures and his biology and took the time to praise his mother in the fashion of the 31st chapter of Proverbs.
No, I did not witness a transformation of my 16-year-old son into the perfect teen. However, I did witness God’s amazing love, his plans, and his promises.
The First Few Days
When I first set out on this praying adventure, I had college and a future on my mind for my son. I wanted him to do all the right things to bring acceptance letters to our mailbox in a few short years.
Funny, there are no Scriptures pertaining to getting into Ivy League schools. What I did find were Scriptures that dealt solely with my son’s relationship with God. Suddenly the point of my prayers and the dreams for my son shifted dramatically.
I decided I wanted to pray a wonderfully meaningful Scripture—something that would say all I wanted to pray for my son. I chose Psalm 119:41-45. The words were perfect.
I prayed these verses for my son—that he would some day pray these verses to our Lord. I prayed that my son would forever have God’s Word of truth in his mouth and that he would experience the freedom there is in following all God says. I prayed that my son would love God’s commands and brag to the world about such an amazing God. I have been praying these verses for him ever since.
I also prayed that God would send him friends—he is rather shy and unimpressed with the “cool kids.” I prayed that God would put in his life the kinds of young men who would only help him grow in his faith. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, English Standard Version).
And I prayed God would steer away any friends who were not Bible believing and practicing Christians. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
An Honoring Husband
Being a single mother due to divorce, I prayed very hard that my son would always be faithful to the wife of his youth. God makes it so clear that he is against divorce (Malachi 2:13-16).
I so desperately want my son to approach marriage as a covenant with God. So I prayed about my son as a future husband. I prayed that the negative examples of marriage all around him would not affect him. I prayed that he would love his future wife, provide for her, and lead her and their family in the ways of the Lord.
The Typical Teen
Yes, I prayed for all of these things, but no, I did not see a dramatic difference as I had hoped. Actually, things began to drift a little downhill. My son brought home some less than spectacular grades, and I realized he had been lying about homework. My lofty prayers immediately took on a more desperate tone—asking the Holy Spirit to weigh on him when he lied.
Did things then start looking better? Not really. My sweet son came a little late to the “surly teenager” party, but arrive he did. The normal teenaged bouts began to turn quite ugly from both of our ends. I screamed and yelled, which fueled his pronouncement that I was out of control and mean. It was an oft-repeated cycle that was getting us nowhere.
I did not have a man in the house to tell him not to ever speak to his mother that way. Actually, most of the males in his life essentially led him to believe the opposite.
My heart was broken. I poured all of my time, love, and effort over the past 16 years into my son. But here he was, talking to me as if I was some fool on the street. Not only was my heart being ripped from my chest, I was insanely worried. If my son felt this kind of talk and self-deception was OK, what kind of man would he become?
Slowly the Lord revealed to me that I was handling everything as poorly as my son was—yelling and screaming were not of the Lord in any way. Yet I argued with God, telling him I have always had to be the mother and the father. I had to give the love and the punishment, be the comforter and the one who pushed. What was I supposed to do? Just allow my son to talk to me in such a demeaning manner? Of course not. But instead of turning to God, I had been turning to people.
Holy Husband and Faithful Father
In the midst of one particularly ugly evening, God gently reminded me of a Scripture. A few years ago I had been wrestling with my past and with the forgiveness and love of God when he so beautifully sent me verses that literally dropped me to my knees in the middle of my kitchen in praise and thanks:
“You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:3-5, NIV).
What resonated with me most was that I had a husband, and not just any husband. My maker is my husband, the Lord Almighty is his name! There is no better husband, and he stated it clearly in his Word.
God brought those verses to my mind as my son and I were driving home from school one day. A disappointing grade and an ugly attitude had filled the car with anger and resentment. I prayed silently to the Lord as I sat angrily in the driver’s seat, with my son sitting next to me seething in his teenaged angst and bravado.
I told the Lord that he told me he was my husband, and I needed my husband to do something about our son. I knew my son needed a man to talk to him—no matter how hard I tried to be a father, I just was not one. I asked God to take my son aside and talk to him as a good father would. I knew he was a perfect Father, so anything he said to my son would be perfect. I begged God to talk to my boy right then.
Not five minutes after I prayed that prayer, my son turned to talk to me in a pleasant and respectful manner. Amazing! My son and I had a calm, rational discussion about his actions, and he conceded that he knew he needed to be more respectful. It was as if a loving but firm father had pulled him into the kitchen, spoken to him in a way that absolutely resonated, and then sent him back in the room to talk to me.
Lest you chalk that up to a one-time deal, I can testify that it has happened on numerous occasions. As many times as a husband has to talk to a teenaged son about respect and the tone he uses with his mother—that is about the number of times I have called on God to have a fatherly discussion with my son. And it has worked. Every time.
Moving Toward Manhood
This gives me so much hope and peace for my son’s future. I know there are times when my prayers will be answered immediately, like when I need God to talk to my son about his behavior, and there are times when God will answer my prayers in his perfect timing. He is so good.
Thus I will continue to pray for my son. I pray that he “will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might . . .” (Colossians 1:10, 11, New American Standard Bible).
Sarah Robinson is a freelance writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.