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Praying for our adult children— a joyful endeavor

From the June 10, 2019 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Being a parent provides plenty of opportunity and incentive to pray. Turning daily to God, divine Love, has helped me keep calm, stay steady, and provide needed support as our adult children have faced and overcome numerous challenges, including unemployment, addiction, and divorce. And then there are the adventures that have demanded courage and discipline, such as living and working in a different state every few months and moving halfway around the world with small children in tow. 

Praying for our adult children is part of the ongoing fabric of parenthood. From experience, I have found that the most effective and efficient way to help is to keep their true identity as God’s children—and what they are truly destined to accomplish—foremost in our own thoughts. 

All sorts of theories and human opinions may try to define our children and our families. We’re often made to believe that if we aren’t living the life of a family in a Christmas card letter, we must be doing something wrong. Don’t believe it! Whenever someone asks me how my children are doing, I always respond, “They’re doing great!” because they are. What do I mean by this? 

As parents, our top job is to keep identifying and defining our loved ones according to how God, their divine Father-Mother, knows them and created them. God, divine Love, knows them as wise, pure, intelligent, energized, and capable. Our Father-Mother God couldn’t possibly know them in any other way, because no matter what challenges our children have experienced, their real identity has never budged from this spiritual reality.

God is actively nurturing the progress of all His children. 

In praying for my children, who are all now adults, I find it is helpful to start from the premise that they are God’s children. It may sound simple, but it’s crucial. This helps me take care not to inappropriately intrude in their lives and helps me conquer worry about them by trusting that God, their divine Parent, is directing their every step.

The Bible makes it clear that, in reality, man (meaning every man, woman, and child) is the child of God because God is the only creator. There has never been any separation between God and His children; they are His spiritual ideas, always expressing His good and pure nature. 

We read in Psalms, “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (100:3). Then later, in Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (43:1). 

When we pray to know that each of our loved ones is the son or daughter of God, with an unalterable relation to divine Love, we feel less anxiety, as well as more confidence that each is not just drifting along, but rather is an idea of divine Spirit, influenced by divine Principle and inclined to respond to divine Mind’s wisdom and direction. I have also found that when we parents conquer our own pride and fear, we become more helpful to our children. 

Armed with spiritually inspired confidence, we can trust divine Mind, divine Love, to parent, shepherd, and guide each one, no matter where they are in their human experience. The Bible says God is “mindful” of us (see Psalms 8:4). God, divine Love, is lovingly attending to the needs of each of His children and actively communicating His love to us. Feeling assured of divine Love’s oversight, we parents can gracefully step back and calmly witness our children’s unique path in life. “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity” (Mary Baker Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, p. 70).

In her book Unity of Good, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, also a parent who prayed for her son, writes, “Now this self-same God is our helper. He pities us. He has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers” (pp. 3–4). In a dictionary of Mrs. Eddy’s day, Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, one definition of pity is “compassion accompanied with some act of charity or benevolence.” We could say that God is actively nurturing the progress of all His children—it is God’s job, not ours; therefore, we can be still and trust our children to the wisdom and design of their divine Parent. 

I had an opportunity to prove these spiritual concepts when an unemployment situation came up in our family. One of our children, who had a family to support, was out of work. While this individual didn’t seem overly concerned, I was sure worried! How could I help?

I started to pray. My prayer began by affirming that God’s man, His child, is always complete, lacking nothing, and always in His employ. As the reflection, representation, of God, divine Life, man’s perpetual occupation is to express what God is. When we are doing this, “working for God,” with pure and true motives, we are purposefully engaged, no matter what our present circumstance.

This was not a time for peppering this person with inspirational quotes; divine Love was communicating. 

I also had to remind myself that time is only a mortal measurement, mortal limits, which can’t define or predict well-being and supply. I didn’t need to worry that as time went by there would be a depletion of good or hindrance of progress. And as divine Mind knows no limits, I did not want to insert restrictive doubt or concern into the situation by harboring my own willful scenarios of how this situation could be resolved. 

Truthfully, I had to review these ideas often to know that God had this situation well in hand. 

When it felt right, I shared some of these thoughts with our loved one. The idea that man is always in God’s employ, always occupied in meaningful and valuable activity, was well received. I did not need to be pushy; divine Love was the communicator. In a few months, a job opportunity opened up that seemed to be just what was needed. To the family member, it felt natural and inevitable. To me, it felt like answered prayer. Of course, it was both!

Another time, a family member was making decisions that were reckless and irresponsible, dangerous even. It was clear that a course correction had to be made. As always, I started my prayer with God, with what God is (divine Life, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Love) and what God knows—that as God’s reflection and expression, this individual was actually pure, wise, rational, and had sufficient moral courage to make changes when needed. 

Knowing that divine Mind is the only Parent, the only real influence, the only advisor, the only Life, I felt assured that divine Mind was leading. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy writes, “Immortal ideas, pure, perfect, and enduring, are transmitted by the divine Mind through divine Science, which corrects error with truth and demands spiritual thoughts, divine concepts, to the end that they may produce harmonious results” (p. 259).

This situation took a while to be resolved; there were ups and downs along the way. Patience, grace, and trust in God were needed on my part. There were times when I felt inspired to simply mention that God was near, loving us. It was clear to me that this was not a time for spewing metaphysical statements or peppering this person with inspirational quotes; divine Love was communicating in a way that could be heard. The law of Love is always operating, even if it looks like it’s not being recognized. 

My daily prayer affirmed not only that this loved family member was already whole, pure, and loved by God, but also that they would be guided to the help they needed, whatever that looked like, and would have the stamina to stay the course until resolution was established. Science and Health says, “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (p. 454). I am grateful to say that this was accomplished, and this individual is now living a strong and healthy life.

Each day as I turn to our Father-Mother God, particularly to know how to assist the ones I have had the privilege of humanly parenting, I am grateful to realize that they are always, and have always been, cared for by divine Love, guided by the wisdom of divine Mind, and protected by the integrity of divine Principle. 

What’s next? I’m praying to know even more clearly that each one is now and always complete, whole, “cared for, watched over, beloved and protected” (P. M., adapt., Christian Science Hymnal, No. 278), and about their Father’s business. As a parent, that’s what I need to know more than anything. Because that’s all there really is to know. It’s everything. Amen.

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