Our first consideration is for our children’s salvation. If they are to have a place in the kingdom of God, they must personally come to Christ and experience the new birth.
Monica, the devout mother of Saint Augustine, prayed fervently for her son’s salvation. But Augustine’s nonChristian father was as zealous to lead Augustine into sin as Monica was to introduce him to Christ-—and Augustine showed little spiritual interest.
One day Monica approached a bishop who was known for his knowledge of the Scriptures and his habit of talking to people about their need for salvation. She asked him to speak to Augustine, but the bishop refused. Finally, as Monica became more earnest in her appeals, the exasperated bishop reportedly exclaimed, “It cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.”
After he became a Christian, Augustine wrote in prayer of his indebtedness to his mother’s intercession: “And now didst thou ‘stretch forth thy hand from above’ and didst draw up my soul out of that profound darkness because my mother, thy faithful one, wept to thee on my behalf more than mothers are accustomed to weep for the bodily deaths of their children.”1
Many centuries later, on a Saturday afternoon in 1849, another mother prayed for the salvation of her only son, Hudson Taylor.
“Leaving her friends she went alone to plead with God for his salvation. Hour after hour passed while that mother was still upon her knees, until her heart was flooded with a joyful assurance that her prayers were heard and answered.”2
When Mrs. Taylor returned home, her son told her of his conversion. Hudson Taylor later founded the China Inland Mission. He ministered to countless Chinese, and his example has inspired thousands of missionaries. His life still speaks today to those who have been deeply challenged by his devotion to Christ.
Another mother I know, the wife of the leader of a Christian organization, sets an example to mothers by her perseverance in prayer. Several of her children have slipped in and out of fellowship with God over the years, but their mother keeps praying, tirelessly. Their growth in grace must be largely the result of her prayers.
Even when it seems God does not hear our prayers for our children, we must keep on praying persistently. Prayer may be our most effective ministry in our children’s lives. It is never too early to begin praying for our children’s salvation. We even prayed for our children before they were conceived.
On our wedding day, Roger and I knelt beside our bed to commit our marriage to God, to read several psalms, and to pray. God gave us an unexpected wedding present during our first devotional time as husband and wife. He impressed on us a verse—Psalm 147:13— promising his blessing on our children. After we thanked God, Roger wrote, “God’s Wedding Gift 7/31/65” beside that verse in our Bibles.
Throughout our marriage we have reviewed that encouraging word from God again and again. God’s promise to “bless our children within us” reassured us that we were waiting for a particular baby—one blessed by God. And we prayed this child would know God’s salvation.
From the first fluttering movement to later side-jarring kicks, we prayed throughout the pregnancy for this baby’s eventual salvation. Finally, we had the joy of seeing Matthew, our new son. Holding him in our arms, we prayed that he would have a place in the kingdom. Night after night, as we laid our infant in his crib, we prayed for him. As the years passed, our prayers continued.
One night in his upper bunk, he prayed and gave his life to Jesus. The Holy Spirit entered his life, and a new spiritual life began. He had a place in the kingdom.
We prayed for a place in the kingdom for each of our children, and now we pray for our children’s children too. It is impossible to begin too soon, or to pray too much for our children.
2 Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, China Inland Mission edition, 1958), p.13.
Excerpted from A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming copyright 1982, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved.