The needs of those in the next generation, the challenges they face, and the opportunities before them are great. What might God be pleased to do if His people come to Him with big, bold, biblical prayers of faith?
Big prayers are not necessarily long prayers. They are big in scope. Jesus’ words at the end of Matthew 6 suggest this. After pointing us to the “birds of the air” that “neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,” and the “lilies of the field” that “neither toil nor spin,” Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”(Matthew 6:26, 28, 31, 33).
It would follow from this passage that when we pray for the next generation, our first prayers should be for the greater things—the big things—the Kingdom-sized things, as we trust God for the lesser things. This does not suggest we should neglect praying for the smaller things, but rather we should prioritize our prayers toward the greater. In the example He gave earlier in Matthew 6, Jesus taught us to first pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and then He prayed “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:10-11).
It is certainly fitting to ask our heavenly Father to give our children a fun day, help them learn to share with their siblings, do well on their math test, heal them when they are sick, encourage them when they are discouraged, provide for their education, give them a godly spouse, and provide us with lots of grandchildren! However, too often, our prayers for the next generation are limited to our concern for the lesser things, and we neglect to pray God’s greater purposes for our children and their generation, and the generations to come.
When we focus on the big prayers, we are more likely to recognize that God addresses the smaller concerns in light of His greater purposes. In other words, when we are passionately seeking and praying for the greater things, we are more inclined to trust the faithfulness and wisdom of God when the outcome of the lesser things is disappointing. It may be that failing a math test is one of the means God will use to grant your child “all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord" (Colossians 1:9-10).
By God’s grace our most earnest and most desperate prayers will be the “big prayers” for greater things that conform to God’s heart and His unstoppable purposes for the next generation.
Bold prayers of the sort that I have in mind for the next generation rise from unwavering confidence in three realities: God is who He says He is, God always keeps His promises and accomplishes all that He sets out to do, and bold prayers are only possible “in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).
It is difficult to be bold in prayer when we have no assurance that our prayers align with His promises and His purpose. I can’t pray boldly that my child will do well on his math test because, as I’ve already noted, it may be that failing the math test is more perfectly aligned with God’s will for my child. I could, however, boldly pray that the outcome of the test would have its sanctifying effect on my child because Paul states explicitly that God wills our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Not all boldness in prayer is necessarily godly boldness that pleases God. Ungodly boldness does not rise from humble dependence on Christ but from prideful confidence in who we think we are.
The reason we come boldly to the throne of grace is not because we are good parents or grandparents faithfully instructing our children in the faith and raising them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Similarly, my bold confidence in prayer for the next generation is not rooted in my identity as a pastor, or my years of service in ministry to parents, children, and youth, or my involvement in an organization founded on the Psalm 78:7 passion for the next generation to set their hope in God. Bold prayers for the next generation arise from our confidence in Christ and all that He is for those who belong to Him.
Biblical prayers for the next generation resonate with the hearts of God’s people and often inspire vision and hope as we pray them. In John 15, Jesus makes an important connection between His Word and our prayers, as well as a breathtaking offer. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
Our big prayers for the next generation and the boldness we have in praying them stand on Truth revealed in the Bible. I am convinced that one of the ways the Holy Spirit has already helped us for those times when “we do not know what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26) is by giving us a Bible filled with words of Truth and glorious promises that we can pray.
Even when praying with no one but God listening, my hope and confidence rise when I am praying the Word of God. Praying with my Bible open and letting prayer rise from reading God’s Word strengthens my faith. I have also discovered that having portions of the Bible memorized gives substance to both my private and public prayer. Also, since I am not naturally articulate, it is so helpful, especially in those spontaneous moments when I am called upon to pray, to have the words of my prayer flow from something that I have memorized.
The combination of the Word of God with prayer is a powerful force for advancing the glorious purposes of our King, for whom we are all ambassadors. May God grant us every grace we need to be alert with all perseverance and boldness in prayer and supplication so that the next generation might know the mystery of the Gospel, “the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God” (Psalm 78:6-7).
This post is excerpted from Big, Bold, Biblical Prayers for the Next Generation. Visit Truth78.org/prayer to download a free digital version of this new book, including over 15 sample prayers from Scripture.
About the author: David and his wife Sally co-founded Truth78 (formerly Children Desiring God) with a strong commitment to casting vision and developing resources for the spiritual development of children in the home and at church. These resources reflect the passion for truth and the theological and doctrinal commitments that has marked the ministry of John Piper who was David and Sally’s pastor and ministry colleague for 33 years. In 2019, after serving as a pastor for next generations in Indianapolis for 5 years, David transitioned to the role of executive director at Truth78 to focus on continuing to spread the vision and equip churches around the world. David and Sally have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.