My worst fear had been realized. When I heard his feet hit the floor and his door open, I knew I didn’t have time to move or hide. I was caught.
“Hey!” he said. “What are you doing?”
“I’m just looking for something I dropped earlier,” I whispered (and lied).
He was practically sleep-walking so didn’t question, but stepped over me to the bathroom. I quickly stood up and walked back to my room. The next morning, our oldest son teased me for crawling around in the dark, and I acted like I had no idea what he was talking about. He had no idea, though, that kneeling in front of his bedroom, and that of his brother’s and sister’s, was something I did practically every single night before I fell asleep.
The power we have to pray for the lives of our children is ineffable—too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.
The nightly routine when my three were in the height of their growing-up years might be described as ridiculous. Our baby is 10 years younger than our oldest, so she was always put to bed first. We’d read a handful of books together, pray about whatever was on her mind, snuggle a bit, and then say goodnight. Of course, I’d usually end up bringing her more water when asked and would sometimes have to reassure her I was in my room and not back downstairs if she was feeling afraid.
A half to an hour later, it would be time to tuck in our middle. He loved to read with me too and share prayer requests with concerns or praises about school, sports, or friends. Sometimes, I’d climb onto his top bunk, and we’d talk for a while after hitting the lights. Before leaving, I’d shake out his three blankets and cover him just so: First, the hunter and cream one, then the gray, and, lastly, the moss green comforter.
Our oldest was in high school during this time period and tended to be up later than we wanted, doing homework and messaging with friends. Right as we were getting in bed though, he’d come in and ask if I had a couple minutes. Those two minutes would often turn into 10 or 15 as I scratched his back and he’d tell me about his day. Physical touch since day one has been his love language.
The pattern would usually start around 7 p.m. and end about 10:30 when all precious three were finally asleep. Many hours spent per week that, looking back now, I wouldn’t change for the world. There’s no home project, no television series, no novel or social media scrolling, no eating or drinking that can ever surpass the bedtime bonding and connection time with our children.
Our two sons are now in beautiful marriages and have cherished baby daughters of their own. Our youngest is a soon-to-be college sophomore with a passion for theatre and dreams of living in a far-away big city immediately following graduation.
No, I wouldn’t switch those hours spent for anything at all.
We only have a limited number of years to fill our kids’ tanks. Leaving the nest with theirs full makes them more capable of making positive contributions to the world and filling other’s tanks, including those of their own parents.
Once my husband and I had finally gotten to bed in those days and we’d had time to talk and be together, he’d inevitably fall asleep before me. That’s when I’d sneak out from under the covers and tip-toe softly down our long, creaky hallway.
I’d kneel in front of the kids’ doors, one by one, and pour my soul out to God. As much as we adore our children (and grandchildren!), I knew then, like I do now, that our intentions and care for them is immeasurably limited compared to the perfectly brilliant, restorative, supernatural love of their heavenly Father.
I realized early on that as hard as I tried each day, I would always, always, ALWAYS fall short. That to raise our children into the kind of adults we hoped and dreamed they’d be, we had to commit them to the only one who knows them and loves them better than we ever can. God entrusted them to us and we had to be intentional about dedicating and surrendering our lives—and theirs—back to Him.
When we acknowledge His sovereignty and pray to Him with all our cares and worries, we get to be participants in the miraculous, wondrous plans He puts in motion for our own lives and for the lives of our kids.
Maybe you can’t summon the energy to be light-hearted today, but God will give you joy if you ask. Maybe you can’t imagine that your child will ever emerge from the difficult stage they’re going through, but God will give you the peace and patience you need to watch their struggle, knowing they’ll be better for it on the other side.
Maybe you, like me, are completely in the dark at times about how to be the best parent you’re capable of being, but God can and will give you wisdom.
Let Him catch you in the act . . . of praying to Him every day.