This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of Mature Living magazine.
For years, like any responsible Christian parent, I prayed daily for my children. For God’s blessing and protection throughout their days. For them to be healthy and happy. For God to help them through difficult times and more. My prayers were regular, heartfelt, and well, routine.
Then one day I heard a testimony in church that inspired me to develop a more systematic and substantive way of praying for my children. I sketched a plan to pray — in addition to my prayers for their safety and for the concerns of that day — for specific biblical virtues to be planted and nurtured in my children. At the end of each month, I began praying through the list again, combining traits when the month was shorter than 31 days.
God abundantly answered my prayers for my children, and now my list fuels my prayers for my grandchildren. Feel free to use it — or improve upon it — to help you pray specifically and purposefully for your loved ones:
2. GROWTH IN GRACE. I pray that my grandchildren may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
4. HONESTY AND INTEGRITY. May integrity and honesty be my grandchildren’s virtue and their protection. (See Ps. 25:21.)
5. SELF-CONTROL. Father, help my grandchildren not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do. (See 1 Thess. 5:6.)
6. A LOVE FOR GOD’S WORD. May my grandchildren grow to find Your Word “more precious than gold, than much pure gold; [and] sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10, NIV).
8. MERCY. May my grandchildren always “be merciful, just as [their] Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
9. RESPECT FOR SELF, OTHERS, AND AUTHORITY. Father, grant that my grandchildren may “show proper respect to everyone,” as Your Word commands (1 Pet. 2:17).
10. STRONG, BIBLICAL SELF-ESTEEM. Help my grandchildren develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10).
11. FAITHFULNESS. “Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave [my grandchildren],” but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts (Prov. 3:3).
12. COURAGE. May my grandchildren always “be strong and courageous” in their character and in their actions (Deut. 31:6).
13. PURITY. “God, create a clean heart for [my grandchildren],” and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions (Ps. 51:10).
15. GENEROSITY. Grant that my grandchildren may “be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:18-19).
16. PEACE, PEACEABILITY. Father, let my grandchildren “pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another” (Rom. 14:19).
I pray that my grandchildren may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
17. JOY. May my grandchildren be filled “with joy from the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6).
18. PERSEVERANCE. Lord, teach my grandchildren perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to “run with endurance the race that lies before [them]” (Heb. 12:1).
19. HUMILITY. God, please cultivate in my grandchildren the ability to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than [themselves]” (Phil. 2:3).
20. COMPASSION. Lord, please clothe my grandchildren with the virtue of compassion. (See Col. 3:12.)
21. RESPONSIBILITY. Grant that my grandchildren may learn responsibility, because “each person will have to carry his own load” (Gal. 6:5).
22. CONTENTMENT. Father, teach my grandchildren “in any and all circumstances … the secret of being content so that they are ‘able to do all things through him who strengthens [them]’” (Phil. 4:12-13).
23. FAITH. I pray that faith will find root and grow in my grandchildren’s hearts so that in their lives, “faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” (Heb. 11:1). (See also Luke 17:5-6.)
24. A SERVANT HEART. God, please help my grandchildren develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, “as to the Lord and not to people” (Eph. 6:7).
25. HOPE. “May the God of hope fill [my grandchildren] … so that [they] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).
26. THE WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO WORK HARD. Teach my grandchildren, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, “as something done for the Lord” (Col. 3:23).
By God’s grace, my prayers will change how my grandchildren pray.
27. A PASSION FOR GOD. Lord, please instill in my grandchildren a soul that clings passionately to You. (See Ps. 63:8.)
28. SELF-DISCIPLINE. Father, I pray that my grandchildren may develop self-discipline and prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and honest. (See Prov. 1:3.)
29. PRAYERFULNESS. Grant, Lord, that my grandchildren’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to “pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request” (Eph. 6:18).
30. GRATITUDE. Help my grandchildren to live lives that are always “overflowing with gratitude” so that they give “thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Col. 2:7; Eph. 5:20).
31. A HEART FOR MISSIONS. Lord, please help my grandchildren to develop a heart for missions, a desire to see Your glory declared among the nations, Your marvelous deeds among all peoples. (See Ps. 96:3.)
It’s pure delight to be able to pray for my grandchildren the very prayers from the Bible that God answered for my children. Not only that, but on those precious occasions when I get to pray with my grandchildren at bedtime or as they leave for school, I can make my request in my grandchildren’s hearing, reinforcing the impact of the prayer — and, sometimes, prompting them to echo my prayers and pour out their own hearts for the very same virtues. Thus, my simple prayer plan changed how I pray for my children, and by God’s grace, my prayers will change how my grandchildren pray and live.
BOB HOSTETLER is a writer and speaker from Nevada. His 50 books include The Red Letter Life and The Red Letter Prayer Life.