When it comes to intergenerational relationship keys, the sixth key, prayer, is one of the most important.
It's hard to overestimate the power, the value of praying for our children, their spouses, their children, their in-laws, their friends. Prayer is a profound way of loving our children.
But what sounds simple can be more difficult than we think. How do we discipline ourselves to pray regularly, honestly, humbly for the people we love best?
A lot of books, seminars, and other resources are available if you want to learn more about prayer, but in my opinion the best way to learn is simply to begin.
Prayer is a conversation with God. Usually I don't have trouble talking! Most of the time I try to begin with a recognition of Who it is I am talking with. Often this involves praise and thanksgiving. I concentrate on God's best qualities – His faithfulness, His strength, His kindness and mercy – and how I've seen those qualitiies at work in my life, and in the world around me.
Then I focus on my requests for those I love: I pray for their safety, their relationships, their opportunities, their spiritual growth, their joys, their concerns. All that keeping in touch with them pays off now; I have some idea of what to pray for. I remember that Emma has an algebra test or that Kristen is dealing with a teething baby and I pray for them. I think about Scott's stressful work, or Natalie's unreliable car, and I pray for them. I pray for Carrie in pre-school and for Erica's new job. I think about Nathaniel's career choices, or Katrina's health, and I pray for them. I go through my heart's list one at a time, and think about what is going on in their lives. I ask God what they need, and I pray for them.
I try to finish the way I began, by praising and thanking God. What a privilege it is to pray for the people I love!
My intention is always to pray daily, but my practice falls short. I don't let that stop me, though, or discourage me – I pray whenever I think of something I want to pray about.
The important thing about all this isn't that I do something, but that God does. He answers prayer. I see it all the time. It's not always exactly the way I thought He might answer but He answers, because He is faithful, and He loves us.
And that's what matters.