Archive for January, 2013

A MOUNTAIN OF PRAYERS

The prayer of the feeblest saint on earth who lives in the spirit and keeps right with God is a terror to Satan.  The very powers of darkness are paralyzed by prayer.  No wonder Satan tries to keep our minds fussy in active work till we cannot think in prayer. Oswald Chambers

As a mom and a counselor I wholeheartedly believe that the best parents and mentors of teens do two things very well.  They love their teens unconditionally and they pray for them continuously.   Both of these beautifully reflect Christ to our kids and have an immeasurable impact on who they become.

Over the last year I have thirsted for a richer and more consistent prayer life.   I long to be more intentional and more focused in my daily prayers for my kids and the teenagers I counsel.  While there have been a number of books that have been very helpful in directing my prayers,  I found that when I put the book or the list aside,  I would often forget to pray as specifically and as regularly.

In an attempt to create a regular rhythm in my prayers for my kids, I created a visual in my mind to concentrate my prayers on one specific area each day of the week.   Since I was never very good at memorization, pneumonic devices and picture associations have always been necessary for me to remember things.  Those of you who are visual will really latch on to this.  Those of you who are not, may think this is way too complex!  Regardless, I hope this visual will help you understand the method a bit more.

Associating each week with a mountain that we climb and descend, I attach a day of the week to specific points along the ascent or descent.  The first three days of the week and the prayer focus connected with them, logically connect to the ascent up a mountain.   Wednesday is the summit or hump day and is associated with triumph.  The last three days of the week and their prayer focus naturally relate to the descent down a mountain and our kids’ independence on the other side.   As I move through my week I consider what day of the week it is and I find myself repeatedly praying for that one area in their life.  To help you connect each day with the right prayer focus, I have listed each day of the week below and in parenthesis I’ve written some of the reminders or connections I use to remind me of the emphasis for the day.

SUNDAY (Before the journey begins, Christ is foundational.): Pray for your kids’ COMMITMENT TO CHRIST, their walk with the Lord and their ability to remain steadfast in their relationship with Christ.  If they do not know Christ, I pray steadily for their salvation on this day.

MONDAY (The journey has just begun, time to put on your protective gear.):  There is an enemy who seeks to destroy our teens mentally, emotionally, relationally and of course, spiritually.  I pray for God’s PROTECTION over them in each of these areas.

TUESDAY (The climb is getting challenging so wisdom and discernment are needed.):  I pray for WISDOM and DISCERNMENT in friendships, in decision-making, in school, with finances, etc. I pray that they would look to God and the truth of His Word as they make decisions.

WEDNESDAY (They made it to the top! I picture a bold stance with hands in the air.): I pray for my kids’ BOLDNESS on Wednesday.  I long for them to be bold in their faith, bold in their proclamation of Jesus as their Lord, bold in their love, their words and their deeds.

THURSDAY (They are descending toward their own individual life on the other side.):  I pray that they would find their CALLING in life.  I pray that they would listen for God’s leading in this area and that they would trust Him even if this calling is challenging, unexpected, or undesirable.

FRIDAY (The trek is coming to end.  It’s time to celebrate and go out on a date!): On Fridays I pray for my child’s FUTURE SPOUSE.  I pray that my kids would be patient in this area, trust the Lord’s timing and choose a mate that is in love with the Lord.  I pray for their spouse, for his/her family and for their walk with the Lord.

SATURDAY (A day at the bottom might lead to bad decisions and/or temptations): On Saturdays I pray that my kids would be able to RESIST THE TEMPTATION that comes their way.  If they succumb to temptation, I pray they will get caught and that they will be drawn to a place of contrition or repentance quickly.

In James 5:16 God promises that “the effective and fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much”.   I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray and guides our very words in our prayers.  I pray that He uses this tool in your life to help you become a more consistent, effective and fervent prayer warrior for the kids in your life.  Now, go and take some time to pray!  Today is Thursday…pray that they will hear and respond to His call in their life.

Finding Their Way

In my town streets are numbered using a grid system designed to help people easily find their way around town.   Unfortunately, the meandering roads of Western North Carolina don’t lend itself to a system like this at all.  Roads ending in multiple combinations of Avenue, Place, Drive and Street make it almost impossible to find your destination.  As a result people get lost here all the time.

When I moved here 14 years ago I did not own a GPS system.  Instead, I relied on maps and helpful people to tell me how to get where I needed to go.  Although I love my small, Southern town and its residents, the directions I received were often impossible to decipher.  Because the numbered system makes no sense here, people instead use landmarks when giving directions.  “You’re going to pass the old Fresh Market on your right and then bear left where Jones Fish Camp used to be,” is an example of what I often heard.  Jones Fish Camp?!  This place was frequently used as a point of reference.  First of all, who knew that a fish camp was an eating establishment?  Not growing up in the South, I had never understood what went on at a fish camp. Second, when I finally found it, I realized why I never knew what it was.  The sign was missing letters and was barely visible from the road.  I suppose the owners didn’t bother fixing it since everyone seemed to know where they were located.

 

Being new to town, however, directions like those did not help me at all.   They required me to have a baseline of knowledge before they made sense.  To cope with my frustration and confusion, I would often smile and just endeavor to figure it out on my own.  Over time reference points commonly used as markers became familiar to me.  In fact, I knew that I too was becoming a local when I found myself regularly referring to Jones Fish Camp as I gave directions to others.

Could this be what our directions for living sound like to teenagers trying to navigate their way through issues they are facing?  Well-meaning phrases like, “Just go and talk to them,” or “Why don’t you plan out your week,” or perhaps even, “Calm down” have little meaning to a teenager who is struggling to get from their current location to a new, more helpful destination.  When we see the “What are you talking about?!” face from our teenager, perhaps we should stop and ask ourselves if we are saying something that is completely foreign, difficult to understand or impossible to accomplish by themselves.

Regardless of a teen’s verbal or facial response, surveys continue to show that teenagers do long for help and insight from a caring adult.  They want someone who has gone before them to show them the way.  Many teens I counsel, however, admit that they do not ask their parents for help when problems arise because they are certain they either  1) won’t really listen,  2) will be shocked, enraged or, disappointed when they reveal “their location on the map” so to speak, or 3) will punish them, confine them or corner them instead of offering them guidance and a realistic pathway out of their problem.

If we want to be a GPS (Guiding Parent/Professional Supporter) when our teen needs some help finding their way, then perhaps we can adjust the way that we respond to their requests.   ACTIVELY LISTEN when your teens talk to you and/or ask for your input.  While their timing may not be ideal, tune into their deeper need.  This will help you to IDENTIFY THEIR ‘CURRENT LOCATION’.  Where are they emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually with regard to the situation they are facing?  These starting points will help you GUIDE THEM TO THE NEXT PRACTICAL STEP.  Use language and strategies that are clear, practical, and reasonable.  Some teens don’t need specific steps to move from one point to another while others will require continued instruction and encouragement along the way. LOVE THEM BY REMAINING RATIONAL, ATTENTIVE AND EMOTIONALLY SAFE throughout the conversation. Remember what you really need when you are feeling lost or have had a difficult time finding your way.

Though it may be suppressed or hidden, most teens today are dealing with high levels of stress from relationships, family expectations, new experiences, and academic work loads.   Each day they are making choices about how they will cope with these stressors.  They can always find people who will flippantly lead them down dead end roads.   Pray that your spirit will be ready, your heart will be open and your mind will be creative as you guide them down life giving pathways when they need a little help along the way.

The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent and their lips promote instruction.   Proverbs 16:23 

       

 

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