Life is dynamic — a confluence of circumstances that constantly fluctuate, often in dramatic and unpredictable ways — and praying for our parents through every season of life means being cognizant of these changes. Each new life stage brings unique opportunities and challenges, which have the potential to affect our parents’ physical, mental, emotional, and, of course, spiritual health.
I have watched my parents juggle many such transitions over the last decade: My brother and I finished college and moved out of the house. My parents relocated to a new city. They have learned to manage various health issues, some of which were brought on by age and some of which were completely unexpected. They retired from their respective lines of work. They are providing caregiving for their own parents and have grieved as my grandparents passed away.
In view of the ups and downs of life’s shifting seasons, I invite you to pray about the following for your parents:
- Centering identity: It is easy to let our identities get wrapped up in things other than Christ, even seemingly positive things such as our children or careers. As they manage change in these spheres, we can pray that our parents will hold fast to their identities as unconditionally loved children of God, a fact that remains unchanged even during life’s most tumultuous situations.
- Healthy grieving: The reality of aging is that it involves a lot of loss, including loss of health (and commonly independence as a result), loved ones and relationships, and more. Rather than glossing over such losses or suppressing the emotions they evoke, we can pray that our parents would recognize them, give themselves permission to grieve, and adapt to the new normal.
- New opportunities: Our culture is ageist; it tells us that people become less useful as they grow older. But as many parts of the Bible indicate, God does not think the same. We can pray that as they move from one season of life to the next, our parents would see God open new doors for them to serve him and others, and that they would seize those opportunities and grow from them.
Additionally, here are some ideas about how we can pray for ourselves to better support our parents as they experience new seasons of life:
- Listen and love: In many cases, our parents are experiencing difficulties that we as their children have not yet lived through ourselves. We can pray that God would give us the chance and the patience to have meaningful conversations with our parents about the challenges they face, and that God would give us empathy and words of truth to offer our love and support.
- Healing wounds: None of us have perfect parents, and despite the best intentions, many of us have strained or broken relationships with our parents because of ways they have hurt us in years past. As seasons of life change, those hurts often resurface. We can respond by praying that God would give us the strength to face our often deeply buried wounds and seek healing for them.
- Expressing gratitude: As we grow older and gain more life experience and perspective, we can pray that God would help us view our surroundings, and particularly our parents, through a lens of gratitude — recognizing how much they have done for us and taking the opportunity to express that to them in an explicit way and perhaps reciprocate their selflessness and service.
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