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3 Prayers for Your Anxious Child

Data suggests that 1 in 3 children struggle with anxiety. In all probability, there are a lot more kids struggling with anxiety than thirty percent. Stress, worry, and anxiety constantly nip at the heels of adults, and our children are certainly not immune to it! This time we are all walking through has seen more stress and change for our whole world, so praying for our kids to navigate it is all the more necessary!

Praying for and with our children about their worries is a powerful tool to teach them to process all their emotions with God.

Here are three ways to pray over your children's worries:

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1. Pray for God to teach them how to give their worries to Him.

1. Pray for God to teach them how to give their worries to Him.

"…Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

God wants us to bring our worries to Him. He wants us to throw them away from our hearts and into His hands!

I've known many people who didn't "cast all their anxiety" on the Lord because they felt like He had more pressing matters like wars and famines to tend to. But nothing could be farther from the truth! If God knows how many hairs are on each of our heads, He is more than capable of juggling the significant needs of the world along with the less historical matters of our life. But more often than not, the concept we struggle with most in following through with this Scripture passage is how to cast our anxieties from our hearts. We pray about them, but then as soon as we've said "Amen!" they are right there demanding our attention again.

When I was a single woman and then as a wife, I had a certain series of exercises I would go through to process out my worries and struggles with God. It worked for years, and I had a lot of victory over anxiety. I was so grateful! And I also thought that was the delightful end of that chapter in my life.

Then the most precious miracle was added to our family! And then there were demanding health issues and big changes in our family that made some of those great ways I used to process worry unreachable. And the chapter of learning how to cast my anxiety on God was reopened. New lessons were learned.

All that to say, the process of learning HOW to give your troubles to God will change throughout a lifetime. So the way your child needs to learn to navigate stress right now might be different than how they need to process it when they're twenty. But valuing and praying for that all too often elusive "how" for your child is vital! Also, teaching them that this is an area God has victory for them is crucial too! Sometimes, it might be hard to do, and there might be a lifetime of learning involved in this short instruction, but it is meant to be part of their story with God.

Pray something like this for your child:

Lord, please teach ______________________ (name of each child) how to cast his/her anxieties on You. Grace him/her with the practical "how" of doing this necessary task. Our worries are so heavy and so sticky, sometimes it is too hard to pick them up and throw them to You, so please teach them how to do this in practical, everyday ways. Reveal Yourself to them in ways that make them know You care about them so they will trust you with their anxieties.

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2. Pray for God's Word to be stored up in their hearts and to be a comfort to them.

2. Pray for God's Word to be stored up in their hearts and to be a comfort to them.

"When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,

Your consolations delight my soul." Psalms 94:19

Just as casting our anxieties on God takes a certain amount of practical know-how, delighting in God's Word and promises to find relief from anxiety takes more than a five-minute effort too. Our children need to know Scripture in order for it to bless them!

One Summer, our women's ministry did a bunch of Bible verse art gatherings. The point behind the crafts was to make sure God's Word surrounded them so they would remember it - because if you don't remember God's Word, it can't affect your life. And that's our whole goal as Christians! To be changed by God (so we can be used by Him and bring Him glory and all of the rest, but first, we must be changed by Him)! A woman from the group came up to me later and said she'd never realized the truth of what I said about God's Word. She said it flowed right through her. She believed it but wasn't changed by it and was always frustrated by that but had also never realized she had any part to play in retaining or storing up God's Word in her heart so that it might have a chance to change her.

When we make God's Word a priority in our lives, we will remember it. And if it is tucked into our memory, it will change the way we think, and if the way we think begins to change, then the way we feel and act will change too. Regarding processing worry and stress, this is a life-changing tool for our children. Ask the Lord to open your eyes for ways you can practically help your children store up God's Word in their hearts so they might find comfort and direction from it in the moments they need it.

Pray something like this for your child:

Lord, please teach my child the love of Your Word and Your promises! Make Your word bubble to the surface of ___________________ (name of each child)’s heart at the very moment he/she is in need of it. Show me as a parent how to facilitate a love of Scripture reading in our home so that in those moments when my children need Your Word, I've done my best to ensure they are filled with your Word.

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3. Pray for your children to see worry for what it truly is.

3. Pray for your children to see worry for what it truly is.

"And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the Word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful." Matthew 13:22

Scripture warns us that if we choose to let it, worry can choke out the good that God is working into our lives. When we fully realize that our hearts are God's, bought and paid for with His shed blood, we are careful with what we do with those hearts. When we deep down understand and agree that we are not our own, we are willing to be much more intentional and thoughtful about how we live.

When I allow a worry to have more of my attention than I give to God, then I am putting worry on the throne of my heart. And worry is a wretched tyrant that chokes out all the good God is working into my life, just as in the parable of the seed. When I choose to acknowledge my worry and entrust it to God's care, He remains on the throne.

I understand a great deal of "but I can't help it" comes into life. But that is the part we cover in prayer for ourselves and our children. We pray for Christ's powerful grace to strengthen us and our children when we "can't." We pray for the Holy Spirit to illuminate those moments of decision before we or our children let them slip away into "can't" territory. And we walk this road with honesty and humility together with our family members.

Pray something like this for your child:

Father, please teach my child, and us as a family, to present our concerns to You but do not feed our worries and give them heart space that belongs to You. Please give __________________ (names of your children) the discernment to become aware of the ways he/she allows worries to take root in his/her heart and grace him/her the ability to uproot those worries with Your strength and trust in You. Teach us as a family to see worry for what it is in the light of Your Word, and do not let us become deceived into giving our hearts and lives to its sway.

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