Elizabeth Hughes

I’ve had my fair share of challenges in my relationship with my parents. I thought as I got older that it would get better, that my parents would learn to respect me and naturally grow in grace and love. But I confess that this struggle has not gotten any easier as I’ve moved from one stage of life to the other. 

Just recently, my family and I moved back in with my parents as we’ve been transitioning to a new home. Though I’m thankful that my parents welcomed our stay, it wasn’t long before disagreements arose. After a couple weeks they didn’t seem so happy anymore having us in their space and leaving messes around the house. I felt not only pressure to tend to my kids each day but also to please my parents, who seemed impossible to please. Resentful, my husband and I began complaining about my parents before bed each night. And I, too, often overheard my parents complaining about us. It seemed that we were all angry and critical of one another. 

But one evening, I opened my daily prayer devotional that I use to pray for my husband and kids, and the topic was on “Inviting the Joy of the Lord.” For some reason, I decided to pray for my parents that night too. The next day, I woke up with a more understanding outlook toward my parents, even though the night before I was seething with anger at my mom for something she had said.

Usually I expected my parents to ignore or criticize me first thing in the morning, but instead, I decided to set the tone and greeted them with a cheerful “Good Morning!” What followed were pleasant conversations with both my parents, probably because I was less sensitive and defensive than usual. The rest of the day also went pleasantly as I actually had the motivation and energy to relate to my parents, consider their needs, and cheerfully help with any needed cleaning, organizing and meals—all the things I was often too tired to accomplish or resentful for doing. I couldn’t help but think that truly, God is right when He says to us through Nehemiah 8:10 that, “the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

That experience for me really reminded me of the importance of praying for our parents spiritually. Oftentimes we can succumb to just writing our parents off as not good enough spiritually—quickly concluding that they never encourage us enough, and are just concerned about our worldly success rather than loving us unconditionally. And parents often place labels on their kids as being rebellious and never honoring them as the Bible teaches. We forget that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world” (Ephesians 6:12). We need to stop battling against our parents, and start battling in prayer for our parents’ salvation and spiritual life. Let’s pray that God would help us have a renewed perspective toward our parents so we can see the Lord work in our parents’ spiritual lives and our own.

Pray for ourselves: 

-Help from the Lord to not let past judgments color the way we see and relate to our parents, but to have a Christ-like attitude and respect for them so that we would be a light to our parents and also be gracious toward them as God has been gracious to us.

-Wisdom and boldness in relating to our parents so that we would be God’s instruments for good in our parents’ lives and not for evil

-That God would strengthen us with a renewed sense of joy in Him so that we would persevere in praying for our parents, even when we feel discouraged.

Pray for our parents: 

-If our parents are non-believers, pray that they would hear the Gospel and believe in Christ to be their Lord and Savior. If our parents are believers, pray that they would continue in the faith and grow in their relationship with the Lord

-For greater spiritual influences in our parents’ lives, like solid Christian friends and a good Church community

-That our parents would realize the God-given influence they have on our lives. Pray that our parents would use their influence to encourage us to follow God and show us grace when we fail.

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