he sobering news about raising children is that we really have no ultimate control over whether our child will choose the narrow gate that leads to life (Matt. 7:14) or the wide gate that leads to destruction. If other experiences in life have not humbled us and shown us how dependent we are on God, then parenting a preadolescent or teenager will.

Understanding our desperate need to depend on God is the good news. Once we give up the naive idea that we parents can dictate the choices our children will make and the spiritual gate they will walk through—narrow or wide—then we are ready to slip on the kneepads and get serious about prayer.

What have we learned about prayer for our children as they prepared for and entered adolescence?dennis january2017 pullquote1


Bring every concern, dream, and desire about your child to God in fervent, persistent prayer. (Luke 18:1–8 contains a great parable on persistent prayer that must have been for parents of teenagers.)

Two of the best times to pray with your child are on the way to school (assuming you drive him or her) and at bedtime—regardless of age.

We lived about five miles from the school our children attended when they were growing up. Every morning we would pray about things most important to our children—tests, friends, teachers, activities. As the car topped the hill right before the school building, we always concluded with the same request: “And Lord, we ask that you would keep each of our children from harm, evil, and temptation this day, that they would experience You at work in their lives and be used by You to influence others for Your Kingdom. Amen.” Once our teenagers began to drive themselves to school, we would use breakfast for this prayer time.

Bedtime prayers can be more personal for each child. Pray for her future mate, relationships, activities, challenges, temptations, and heart for God. Don’t assume that a teenager is too big for you to kneel beside his bed and stroke his face and pray.


Before your child hits adolescence, pray for his peer group—that he will have at least one strong Christian buddy for the teenage years. Ask God to protect your child daily from others who would be an evil influence. Also consider asking God to help you spot your child doing things right so that you can encourage him in making right choices.


On more than one occasion we sought the Lord’s help in removing a friend of questionable character from our child’s life.

From time to time we would feel that one of our teens might be deceiving us, but we could never be absolutely certain. In those situations we asked God to help us catch him if he had been doing something wrong. God seems to feel sorry for parents who pray this prayer!