“What Should I Pray for My Children?”
“‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’”
Matthew 20:21 (NIV)
“You don’t know what you’re asking.”
Have you ever wanted to make this statement to a loved one when their request seemed so big it teetered on crazy?
After sharing with His disciples that He would soon be killed, the mother of James and John decided this was the right time to ask Jesus for a favor.
Matthew 20:20-21 tells us: “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’”
What a bold woman! She just asked Jesus to make her sons His favorites in His kingdom.
Jesus answered her request in the next verse: “You don’t know what you are asking” (Matthew 20:22a, NIV).
This mom was asking Jesus to make her sons great--to give them the most prominent places in God’s kingdom.
What mom doesn’t want greatness for her children? I have definitely been that bold, even begging Jesus at times “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” in the lives of my kids just like Ephesians 3:20 says. These are good, even Biblically correct prayers.
But as I continue to read this chapter, I hear Jesus saying to me, just like He said to James and John’s mother, “You don’t know what you are asking” (Matthew 20:22).
As Matthew 20 continues, Jesus goes on to tell the disciples that as His followers, their life journeys would not be easy. In fact, if becoming great was what they really wanted, Jesus told them there was only one way to obtain greatness: become a servant.
“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matthew 20:26-27, NIV).
My prayers are challenged by Jesus’ words. First, I am stirred by the question Jesus poses to the mother of two disciples. Not only do I hear Him asking, “What is it you want?” but there’s a deeper question: “Why do you want it?”
When I am praying, asking God to do great things for and in the lives of my family, what is my motive?
My reflection took me to one conclusion: the mother of James and John--and this mom--might have something in common. My requests of Jesus, my prayers, are often positioned from pride.
I see pride because I want my kids to succeed because I believe who they are and what they do reflects on me. I’ve made that terrible mistake of equating what they do to how I did as their mom.
Jesus says that to become great in His kingdom, my family, beginning with me, must do one thing: Become a servant. Yes, becoming great has to do with accomplishments, but not the type of accomplishments I may be thinking.
Great accomplishments to Jesus are acts that serve others.
My point today is not to encourage us to stop praying powerful prayers over our families. No, indeed we are to be praying fervently and without ceasing. It’s part of what we do as moms and as investors in the lives of others.
But maybe we need to truly understand God’s definition of great. Keeping a pulse on our hearts’ motives, let’s pray that above all else, the Holy Spirit will empower us to be humble and become servants for Him and others.
And may we pray for God’s best in and for our families for the sake of His kingdom and not for the glory of our own.
Lord, may we become great as You define greatness. Create in us the heart of a servant, choosing to work for Your glory and fame and not our own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Mark 9:35, “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” (NIV)
Luke 22:26, “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (NIV)