“So train the young women to love their husbands and children.” – (Titus 2:4 ESV)
I learned this very well from my mentor, Phyllis, through the years as I’ve watched her diligently and passionately pray for her husband and children, and their spouses, and now her grandchildren. As I’ve started my own for my husband, and now my Baby Boy Campbell coming in September, I wanted to share some thoughts and how-tos that I’ve learned from her over the almost 20 years of knowing her.
1. Get paper. I remember after my second date with my husband, I went to B&N later that night and got a moleskin notebook and started journaling and praying for him, knowing one day I would give it to him at our wedding. And I did. He is reading through it now. But, really, ladies…you don’t need a moleskin or fancy notebook. You can use a journaling Bible (like this one from Crossway) and journal through your reading in there or just grab some loose-leaf paper and stick it in a folder (like we did back in high school, before everything needed to be turned through a computer). The paper doesn’t matter, the action does.
2. Get a pen/pencil/crayon. I have tried to steer away from pens that will bleed through the pages of my moleskin (almost done with #2 right now) but sometimes a bleed pen is the only one around. I would also challenge you to get a real pen and paper (not a computer) because you’ll be able to cherish these notebooks for years to come and your children and husband can read them as well! I know we are a techno world now, but I truly believe that some things are better hand-written.
3. Get a Bible. One of the MUSTS for this type of praying is that you pray Scripture over your spouse/children. What Phyllis taught me is that I don’t need books or even to be really creative, I just need God’s Word. She trusts in its sufficiency, and so do I. You don’t have to start a new reading plan – just read. If you want to, start with the Psalms, or one of Paul’s epistles or (gasp!) even the book of Deuteronomy. Pray these Scriptures for your husband/children. Here is an example from Psalm 112:
Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
(Psalm 112:1-8 ESV)
“Father, I praise you and thank you that you have given me a Psalm 112 husband. Thank you for answering that prayer. I thank you that E fears you more than he fears man and that he takes great delight in your word each morning, even as we are going through James this year as a couple. I pray that our children, even this little one in my tummy right now, will be blessed to follow and know you and dwell richly and mightily in the land as they seek you wholeheartedly because of your grace and the display of faithfulness of their earthly Father (all because of grace). Thank you for allowing my E to show me grace and mercy when I fail, and fail miserably at times. Thank you also that he pursues you and righteousness. Continue to weigh in his heart and his actions so that they might please you. I praise YOU that E is a generous man who does not hoard the money that you have blessed us with but wants our giving and our home to be a place of blessing for others. May we continue to live in that way. I pray Lord, that even in difficult times, that you would make his heart strong and firm in you – knowing that you never change and that you will lead him in righteousness (Psalm 23). Do not let him coward and be afraid, but be bold and know that you are God until the day that you make him triumph over his enemies for the glory of God in the world.”
And you can take the same chapter and pray it for your children, as I will for baby Campbell.
4. Pray. I know this may seem like the easiest one to do, and I do pray for E all the time and pray for baby Campbell as well (honestly mostly in the shower), but do this. I remember living for a time with my mentor and her family. I remember waking up early in the morning and walking downstairs, and Phyllis had already been there for hours praying and reading for her soul and the soul of her family. This was such a testimony to me. I fail in this so much. I need more grace to make it happen and to make it a glorious habit.
5. Save. Save your journals. I will save mine. Got an email from Phyllis this morning even that she has bookshelves and a chest full of these journals. What a legacy for your children and spouse as they see a wife/mother who first loved Jesus then prayed and loved them as well all the days of her life.
6. Side note: I sometimes read these journals to E as a way to encourage him. I let him read the first one (I gave it to him before our wedding). I use it as part journal of our marriage too. So for part of the journal I’m talking to God and part of it I’m talking to E, or baby Campbell in his. I’ve already seen how encouraging this can be and how much fruit can be harvested from this daily duty of delight (see John Piper).
PS…You can definitely read through books and pray those for your husband or children. I remember reading through A Guide to Biblical Manhood written by SBTS profs Dan Dumas and Randy Stinson and praying through those traits for E before we got married. By all means, use other things, but let Scripture be your guiding principle!
May I encourage you to begin today to be a wife and/or mother who lives by prayer and the Word of God. We fail miserably without them both. Thankful the Holy Spirit works His Word in us and shapes and fashions us according to His Plan and for His glory!
Phyllis – thank you for praying for Billy, Jeremy/Katie, Jill/Matt and all your beautiful grandchildren – and for me. You have truly been a Scriptural blessing in my life and continue to be so! Proverbs 31 by grace, you are! And if you have anything you would like to add Phyllis, please add it in the comments: I still have much to learn!