How should I pray for my adult children who aren't in the church?

Q: Someone told me that I don’t know how to pray for my children. This hurts. I had three daughters. I brought them up in the church as a single parent because my husband left us to marry another woman in the church when they were babies. Since then, one of them passed away with colon cancer at the age of 29; the other two do not attend church. One is married to a non-Adventist and has a daughter. The older one is unmarried. I have prayed to the best of my ability every day, several times a day, but to no avail. However, I’m sure that God hears and answers prayers. Do you have any words of advice for other mothers who are going through similar circumstances? — Hazel

A: Dear Hazel, I am sorry to hear of the many heartaches that you have experienced, including the most recent one of being told that you don’t know how to pray! Prayer is a very personal, private, and real connection with God.

“Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. … Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.

“When Jesus was upon the earth, He taught His disciples how to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God, and to cast all their care upon Him. And the assurance He gave them that their petitions should be heard, is assurance also to us” (A Call to Stand Apart, p. 26).

There is nothing more precious on earth than our children, and because we love them and want them to be saved and live forever, we can understand when the apostle John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).

Sadly, sometimes even when a parent or parents do the best they can do, children make choices other than what is best according to God’s Word. This is especially painful when it seems that they have chosen to walk away from God.

But I want to remind and encourage you in that as much as we love our children — their Heavenly Father loves them even more, and He wants them to be saved even more than we do!

Never doubt that He sees your tears and hears your prayers. Claim the many promises in the Bible that are there for you, such as Psalm 126:5, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,” and “Thus says the Lord: ‘Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their own border” (Jer. 31:16-17).

In addition to praying for your children, be sure to stay in touch with them, letting them know that you love them no matter what. Make a point of having positive interactions with them on a variety of subjects and occasions — not just regarding your concerns about their spiritual journey.

While in the end God always allows the person to make his or her own decision to follow or not follow Him (and so must we), be encouraged in knowing that there have been many others who have prayed for their loved ones (sometimes for years, even decades), but they never gave up and their loved one(s) eventually came back to God.

Courage to you, Hazel. Never, ever give up praying for your precious children. God sees and hears and will do all He can to save them.

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