While we were out for coffee at our local garden centre last week, I noticed that already they have the Christmas decorations out. One thing in particular caught my eye. In the centre of the display there was a large Christmas tree covered in gift tags. On these tags, various visitors had written their own Christmas wish. Most were from children asking for a train set or doll or whatever the latest toy is. Some were from adults: one person wished for a new job, another for world peace. One wish in particular caught my eye. It was from a mother, and she had written that she wished that her baby son would grow up healthy and strong, and that he would never know unhappiness. She wished that she and his Dad would always be able to provide for him. Understandable sentiments, but something about this "wish-tree" saddened me. It was covered in tags conveying many peoples hopes and dreams but who were these wishes addressed to?
As mothers who trust in Christ, we have no need to write our hopes for our children on Christmas trees as we can bring them before the Living and True God. So how can we focus our prayers on what our children really need, rather than just that they be happy and healthy (although obviously there is nothing wrong with praying for these things as well!). One resource I have found very helpful in enabling me to do this is a booklet called Praying for the Next Generation produced by Desiring God Ministries. In the introduction the author, Sally Michael says,
"How often have we thought through the spiritual inheritance we want to leave our children? Do we pray faithfully not only for them, but also for their children and our grandchildren's children? What better legacy can we leave than prayers prayed for future generations?"
She sets out twelve scriptural topics and lists related Bible verses to use as a springboard for prayer. This has helped me to focus on my children's deeper, spiritual needs in prayer, as well as their material and temporal needs. This booklet can be ordered from Desiring God here (scroll down the list to find it).
Even if we have no children of our own, most of us know children who are dear to us, whether we are related to them or not. By praying for these children we can all be "spiritual mothers"- what a great legacy to leave for future generations!