MY daughter spilled her juice again the other day for what seemed the millionth time in her two years. As I cleaned it up, I found myself mentally calculating the number of months it would be until she was safely lodged in kindergarten. But then I caught myself. Was I thinking that her entry into school would mean less responsibility on my part? ``No!'' I thought at once. ``Not if she is anything like her brother.'' Her brother, a second grader, is happy at school and has done well academically. Yet, like most other children, he has his day-to-day run-ins to work out and his share of social adjustments to make.
At first, when he would tell me about some of these challenges, I would employ the parents' old standby -- the talk cure. But it didn't take long for me to realize that something more could and should be done. So I adopted the practice of praying for him to help him through school problems.
A word about this prayer, though. It was never simply a matter of asking God to reach down and bail this youngster out of trouble (though I'll admit there were a few times when I wished that it worked that way!). Instead, I strove in prayer to bring my view of my son into harmony with what I knew wholeheartedly that God understood of him.
It may seem that children, as well as adults, are just mortal beings who are at the mercy of circumstances in this life. Some cope, some don't. But in truth God has created man in His own image, as the Bible teaches. Man is the perfect spiritual likeness of God Himself. God holds man in an unbreakable spiritual relationship to all that He is. It's as Paul told the people of Athens: ``In him we live, and move, and have our being.''1
When we pray, we don't have to make this Biblical statement true. It is true and always will be true. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, asks, ``Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work?'' She continues, ``His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation.''2
We can begin praying for our children with the basic truth that God's work, including man, is perfect and complete, needing no change. This is not to ignore what may obviously need healing but to help forward that healing through a clearer sense of God's perfect government of all His offspring. It's not to diminish our own responsibility but to fulfill it through a deeper expression of love for our children. We can expect to see steady and permanent changes in attitude and behavior through the persistent love and care that are impelled by such prayer.
I prayed whenever my son experienced difficulty. Soon, though, I saw that praying daily for him might even prevent some of the difficulties from arising. Thus, the ``more prayer'' in the title above.
Of course, we need not expect a child to run into difficulty on a daily basis. And no parent can personally sort through all the challenges a child may face. But daily prayer for the child is beneficial. It can help us clarify for ourselves the child's relationship to God -- to see that, as Science and Health states, ``man is the expression of God's being,''3 therefore never separated from God. Our clear understanding of this helps provide a child with an ever-ready defense against thoughts that are detrimental. And just as important, we can teach our children how to pray for themselves as they mature.
It is God's nature to love each individual in His creation. This love, of course, is deep and all-inclusive. Availing ourselves and those in our family of this love is both a privilege and a responsibility. In the case of a child growing up, many have found that it demands steady, constant prayer -- much like the steady, constant love of the Father-Mother for each one in His universal family.
1Acts 17:28. 2Science and Health, p. 3. 3Ibid., p. 470.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2