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Parenting in the Spirit

A New Year's prayer

As a mother, I’ve found it quite difficult to ride the waves of the past couple of years. We’ve all had to adapt to the constant change and anxiety brought about by a global pandemic. And now that life is largely back to normal, we have to cope with the ‘normal’ (read: insane!) levels of busyness that we seem to have lived with pre-pandemic.

Over the past two years, our family has also had to adjust to the arrival of a fourth child, a change of schools and two job changes for my husband. It feels like we’re still slightly off balance and out of control most of the time; things are always falling off the proverbial cart.

Faced with the stress and anxiety that seems to be my new normal, I’ve been learning the power of deep breathing. When I feel overwhelmed, I’m learning to stop and take a few slow breaths in and out again to help my body and mind relax and let go of the tension. It’s been surprisingly effective.

As a Christian, I’m also using these moments, these deep breaths, to take hold of the secret weapon that every Christian parent has at their disposal—the Holy Spirit. As I breathe in, I’m reminding myself that God’s Spirit—God’s breath—gives the life, power, wisdom, freedom and love that we need for every moment of every day.

Will you join me in praying for this to be the year of parenting in the Spirit?
Lord, the giver of life,

In the beginning, you breathed into a handful of earth and human beings came to life (Genesis 2:7). In the valley of Ezekiel’s vision, you breathed into dry, lifeless bones and they took on flesh, becoming a mighty army (Ezekiel 37). In the darkness of the tomb, by the power of your Spirit, you raised Jesus from the dead to a new, indestructible life. 

May you, the One who gives life to the dead, breathe life into our mortal bodies because of your Spirit who lives in us (Romans 8:11).

Lord, the giver of strength,

I am weak and weary, frail and finite. But I know that your mighty power—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead—is living in us (Ephesians 1:19–20). 

I look to you to renew my strength. Help me soar on wings like an eagle; help me run and not grow weary, help me walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). Lord, help me to trust that ‘I can do all things through him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13).

Lord, the giver of wisdom,

Every day, I face many complex decisions. Too often, I don’t know what to do or how to respond to the people and situations around me. Please fill me with the spirit of wisdom and revelation that I may know you better and know how best to follow you (Ephesians 1:17). May your spirit teach me and guide me into all truth (John 16:13).

Lord, the giver of freedom

Too often our family life is based on ‘law’—on rules and expectations. Too often, my relationships are driven by duty, by what ‘should’ be done, which means that my family life often falls short of my ideals.

But through Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Jesus kept the law for me so that I don’t have to.

Please cleanse me from my sin. Please give me a new heart and put a new spirit in me: take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26–27). Please help me to live not by the letter of law but by the Spirit of freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). 

Please fill my children with your Spirit too. May they obey from a heart that’s been set free, not from a heart that’s afraid of breaking the law.

Lord, the giver of love,

When I live by the law, I become controlling, impatient, critical and anxious. When I expect obedience from our children, but without love, our family starts running on fear.

But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18–19). Thank you for your perfect love that accepts us and forgives us just as we are. Help me to love my family just as you have loved me; help me to forgive them as you forgive.

Love is the fulfilment of the law: if we simply love others by the Spirit, then we will always be doing what is pleasing to you (Romans 13:8–10). Please bring forth in me the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).

By your Spirit, please transform me more and more into the image and likeness of Jesus, my Saviour (2 Corinthians 3:18). 

In his name I pray,
This year, when you feel overwhelmed, maybe you could stop and take some deep breaths. And as you breathe in, take hold of the secret weapon of Christian parenting:

May the Spirit of life make dry bones live;
May the Spirit of power make us strong;
May the Spirit of wisdom show us the way;
May the Spirit of freedom move us to love.
Harriet Connor is the Content Editor for Growing Faith and the author of Families in God's Plan: 12 Foundational Bible Studies and Big Picture Parents: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life (Wipf and Stock, 2017). She lives on the Central Coast of NSW with her husband and four sons.

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