From the time she was able to speak, her opinions on life where black-and-white, right and wrong, good and bad. In many ways, she reminded me of a Pharisee who’d yet to encounter the fullness of God’s grace. She was a rules girl, bent on staying within the safety zone, both in terms of our parenting and in light of what she knew of the Bible. It made being her mom pretty easy, but also secretly heartbreaking.
Yes, she might always be the good girl. That was alarming for me, a recovering good girl — minus those ten years of wounded-rebellion — who still struggles to process life in light of God’s grace, mercy, and sanctifying power.
So long before she entered the trying years of middle school, I began praying hard prayers for my daughter. I asked God to allow her to face real challenges in which she’d have to work hard at something — beyond her potential — in her studies, in sports, and even in friendships. I prayed for her to face her limitations and yet be willing to take risks to step out of her comfort zone. And to this day, as she’s deep into her high school years, I continue to ask the Lord to move in her life in such a way that she would know what it feels like to experience a dependency on the Him, and maybe even others, so that she can get comfortable with her own weakness.
She’s going to need to have a certainty of God’s faithfulness as she faces her own limitations as an adult.
I’ve also boldly and fearfully asked God to increase her compassion-ometer — and that’s a terrifying prayer! I’m not asking God to break her spirit or turn her life into a mess. Oh no, I didn’t ask the Lord to allow her break her wrist in a traumatic sailing accident a year ago, but I can see now how He used that experience to draw her closer to Him and to look at others in a new way. That was the heart of my hard prayer — for her to see the people in her life the way Christ sees them.
Yet beyond the broken wrist fiasco, on the outside my daughter looks like she has it all together. But she doesn’t. Her story is laced with wounds that are as significant to the Lord as they are to her, even when they seem insignificant to others. She longs for a best friend, and instead the Lord’s brought her many, but not “the” one. She’d love to have a body that doesn’t creak and ache like a middle-aged woman, but her genetics refuse to give up a legacy of scoliosis and bad knees. It’d be great to have better test-taking skills, but she can’t seem to figure out how to improve no matter how many hours she studies. She’s got this beautiful voice, but the comparison trap keeps her all too quiet as the enemy stifles her gift with regrettable silence. These are her issues — the ones she’s given me permission to mention. We all have them — the mentionable and unmentionable trials and challenges of life.
Her hardships may very well be first-world problems, but they are painful nonetheless. As they are for each of us. It is these very hard things of life which need to be bathed in often hard-to-speak prayers — the ones in which you give God the trial and challenge, asking Him to accomplish His purposes. Those prayers in which you ask God for mercy while thanking Him for the opportunity for real life sanctification. And even the unlikely prayers that take your breath away as you see how Christ’s presence in the midst of suffering may be the best outcome of all.
The problem with looking like you have it all together is really the praise that comes from others. It feeds the beast of pride and erodes the very humility that God wants to use to accomplish His kingdom purposes.
That’s why hard prayer for our good girls are so very powerful.
Instead of seeing obstacles, challenges, and wounding-situations through the eyes of over-protective mama bears, we need to see them through Spirit’s leading and powerful intervention. Yes, as moms, we may still need to do something — like having that hard conversation, navigating through the details of a difficult situation, or comforting our girl with lots of hugs and love and some creature comforts. But we also need to pray. The hard prayers. The prayers that invite God into their story as we seek His perspective on how to co-labor with Him in the sanctifying work He wants to accomplish in their lives.
So, mama, will you pray the hard prayers for your daughters?