As a parent and grandparent, one of my weightiest and most frequent prayers is that my children and grandchildren will know and walk with God—not only that, but that they will walk with Him in the way and purpose He has designed for them specifically.
God has an original design for every one of His children, including yours and mine. As the apostle Paul wrote, “ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus or good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10, emphasis added). Who we are, and what we have the capacity become, is not a matter of chance. God knows each one of His children intimately, and has a perfect and intricate purpose—and original design—for each one of them.
When our oldest son (now 30) was a little boy, he would ask me questions like, “Why did they put the streets that way, Mom?” In fact, when he was quite young—younger than one would usually expect a child to notice such things—Doug and I observed he had a particular penchant for critiquing how things were laid out—things like neighborhoods, city streets, and parks. He also, from a very young age, wanted to know every available detail about what was going to happen. He liked to plan ahead! Where were we going; who would we see there; what would we do when we arrived? That is how God wired him.
All children have their own unique bent or “original design.” And, through prayer, we have the amazing opportunity and privilege to partner with God in seeing His original design for a child come to fruition as that child grows into adulthood. We can start praying for a child this way at any age: when they’re in the womb, when they’re in school, when they’re in high school, or even when they’ve left the home. It’s never too early—or too late.
During our son’s junior year in university, he became quite anxious when the time came to declare his major. The degree he had intended to pursue was not one he now felt comfortable with. For our part, we felt our primary responsibility was to pray, not to step in and fix the situation. That was hard! But we prayed that God’s design and destiny would triumph in his life. After all, we knew that God watches His word to see that it is fulfilled (Jer. 1:12). It was His plan that was at stake, not ours.
Amazingly, through a series of “coincidental” connections, he received a call from the head of his university’s advisory department to look at his transcripts and help him declare his major. When everything was laid out on the table, it was clear by the choices he had made of electives that he had a keen interest in geography. The advisor asked him, “Do you know you could graduate as early as next year with a geography degree—with a specialty in planning?” This particular degree would allow him, if he so chose, to make a career in land use and urban planning—something for which he had had an affinity for since childhood, but which neither he (nor we) had consciously pursued! Yet it fit entirely with what we had already identified as part of his original design. None of us could have planned it better ourselves! And of course, we didn’t. It was a natural outworking of his God-given original design—and prayer.
You can find clues to your children’s original design in their behavior, their likes and dislikes, the kinds of friends they choose, the kinds of games they play, and so on. You can also listen to God’s voice telling you how He made your child. In prayer, ask Him to reveal it to you. The Holy Spirit may show you specific character qualities as you pray and listen for His voice. Or, long after you’ve actually prayed about it, He may give you a flash of divine insight when you least expect it. Either way, when it happens, listen, take note, and meditate on what the Lord reveals. Jesus’ mother Mary did this when she meditated on the things the angel revealed to about her son: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk. 2:19).
An important part of praying for a child’s original design is releasing our own expectations and dreams of who we would like them to be. It’s all too easy to project our own hopes and desires onto them, and miss entirely the plans that God had for them. This can lead to conflict, disappointment, and even broken relationships between parents and children.
Conversely, imagine what you will communicate to your child when you set out to discover his unique design, and release him to walk in it. What freedom! What a message of love, support, and encouragement! And what a demonstration of trust in God . . . that “His will be done on earth (and in our children’s lives) as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10).
(c) 2017 Arlyn J. Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.