When you love your children at a distance—when you are separated willingly or unwillingly from those you want to protect—you do not have to be a helpless bystander watching them play the game of life on their own. You can be on both their offensive and defensive teams in ways just as powerful as if they were under your physical care and protection.
Please understand, as long as your children have breath it's never too late to take an active role in protecting them. Even if you've made a mess out of things so far, it's never too late. Even it they hate you, it's never too late. You can play both offense and defense for them whether they know about it or not, whether they agree with it or not.
This should be good news for some of you, who have strained or broken relationships with your children. But this should also be good news for any of us who want to do a better job of protecting our children.
Please note: While I am talking about how to watch over children who are no longer under your physical care, they don't necessarily have to be adult children. The discussion still applies to young children who are not with you, but are under somebody else's care.
The objective of the offensive team is to create opportunities. The objective of the defensive team is to eliminate threats. It's no different than when they were in our physical care, other than the fact that we now create opportunities and eliminate threats spiritually, rather than physically.
I created opportunities for my children by giving them music lessons, allowing them to play sports, encouraging them to participate in extra‐curricular activities at school, teaching them how to work with their hands, requiring them to take on daily responsibilities around the house.
When my oldest son was in college he began to reminisce about his childhood on a road trip we took together. “Dad, do you remember when you made me…? Do you remember when we…?” For several minutes he recounted the stories with a fondness I did not remember him having at the time. As I listened, I was playing it cool on the outside, but on the inside… “Yes!” was punctuating my thoughts. At that time he was big into racing solar cars at the University of Missouri and began telling me what he observed in other members of the team. He noticed when decisions needed to be made or action needed to be taken, the other students would just stand around waiting for leadership, but he was able to jump right in and get things going. In a round about way, he was thanking me for creating opportunities in his life.
After our children leave our care, we can still create opportunities in a hands‐on way by helping them with an ear to listen, a voice of encouragement, a job referral, a tip on nutrition, a home‐improvement project, etc. But because of our busy schedules here in America, the primary way we, as parents and spiritual mothers and fathers, create opportunities for our children shifts to what I will loosely call “prayer.” Even if you have a broken relationship with your child, you can still create opportunity in his or her life by understanding your spiritual authority.
God has not limited us to begging when we pray. Let me explain. When you see a man flying a sign (begging), what goes through your head? Because of the time I spend with the poor, giving him money is not one of the things that go through my head. And if he is flying a sign in Joplin, there's a pretty good chance I know him. He may have attended enough of our classes at the shelter that we've become friends. But he won't want to talk to me as a friend when he's begging—because it's bad for business (yes, that's what I've been told). I may have a tip on a job, or other suggestions for income, but when he's begging he won't listen.
It's kind of like that with God: When we're begging we're not listening. There's nothing wrong with a prayer like: “God, please look after Johnny today. I ask in Jesus' Name.” (If you have a hundred “children” to look after, that may be about all the prayer you have time for.) But don't beg—listen. Listen for God's prompting because Johnny might need a different kind of prayer today: “God, Johnny needs to land the Smith, Smith, and Company account. I know it would be a win/win for everybody involved. But it normally takes two years to get in the door. I ask you to give Johnny favor with the administrative assistant to Ms. Smith, the head buyer, so Johnny can meet with her directly. And I thank you for this favor in advance. I ask in Jesus' Name.”
Tune in to what's going on in your children's lives. If they won't tell you, ask God to tell you. Create opportunities for them by asking God to give them favor with the right people. Joseph may have served the most interesting prison sentence ever, because God gave him favor with the keeper of the prison (see Genesis 39:21–23). The Lord gave the Israelites so much favor with the Egyptians, they “borrowed” of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment when leaving Egypt (see Exodus 12:35–36). God gave Nehemiah favor with Artaxerxes, so Nehemiah could lead the rebuilding effort in Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 2:1–8).
I would encourage you to do a word study in the Bible for “favour.” Essentially, favor is another person doing something for you or on your behalf, whether they want to our not. Frequently attached to favor are statements like: “We don't normally do this.” “This is against company policy, you know.” “We'll make an exception in your case.” “I don't know why I'm doing this for you, but….”
If you're not quite sure how to put this in the form of a prayer, let me give you some ideas:
- Identify the desired result in your child's life. Is it restoring a broken relationship, landing a job or an account, being accepted to grad school, learning a trade? Whatever it is, write it down.
- Determine where your child is in the process. Track all the people in between your child and the desired result. Write those people down in the order of contact.
- Ask God to give your child favor with each person on the list.
- Thank God in advance for the favor.
In addition to creating opportunities by asking God for favor with men, you can ask God to make your child aware of the favor he or she has with God. Our children already have favor with God, but only if they take some action to receive it.
In Acts 7:46 we read about David “who found favour before God.” In Luke 1:30 the angel of the Lord tells Mary she has “found favor with God.” The Greek word for “found” means:
1. To come upon, hit upon, to meet with
2. To find by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by practice and experience
3. To find out for one's self, to acquire, get, obtain, procure
Your child's ability to enjoy the favor of God is dependent upon the quality of his or her relationship with God. The closer your child is to God, the more favor he or she can enjoy. But even children who have no relationship with God experience His favor:
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. (Matthew 5:45b NLT)
Here's a prayer similar to what Sherrel and I might pray over our children, to help them experience the favor of God:
“Lord, help the kids see You for who You are. Overwhelm them today with Your love. Show them the difference between what you provide and what the world can provide. Show Yourself mighty in their lives today. We ask in Jesus' Name.”
We'll continue tomorrow.
Have a good day,