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Older married couple with adult children using our prayers for adult children

Prayers for Adult Children

March 18, 2024

How To Pray for My Adult Children

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” —Psalm 28:7 

As the parents of adult children, finding ways to be a part of their lives can be challenging. Adult children are experiencing so many firsts—first time living on their own, first time beginning a career, first time getting married, and more. How do you appropriately stay involved in their lives while respecting their independence? Moreover, how do you hope and pray for your adult children if their lives are different from what you envisioned? 

Prayer is defined as “an address (such as a petition) to God in word or thought.” But as a Christian, you know it’s so much more. Prayer is a moment of peace, a celebration, a time of gratitude, and a place to express fears, concerns, and desires. Prayer encourages introspection, honesty, and humility to admit faults. Most importantly, prayer is a conversation with God and a powerful way to seek out guidance and directionfor you, your spouse, and your children, grown or not. 

Remember God’s got this. 

The first step in praying for your adult kids is trusting God’s got this. When you’re raising little ones, it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually in charge. You and your spouse spent years protecting them from life-and-death situations like jumping out of trees and playing with matches. Diapers, dinners, homework, and activities filled your days. You prayed at dinner, took them to church, and tried to live out a life of faithas much for your own sanity as for your convictions and aspirations to be an example for your kids.  

Now that they’re grown, you have the opportunity to let go of the reins and trust that God is in control. No matter what your adult children’s lives look like to you, when you let go of the responsibility of raising them and lean into the gift of caring about them as trusted friends, it’s easier to remember that God created your kids on purpose, for a purpose.  

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” —Colossians 4:2   

Prayer can also bridge the gap between the conversations you may want to have with your adult children and the trust that God is capable of guiding them through their own lives, without your advice.  

Look for spaces where God is already working in their lives and give thanks for His providence. Pray that you can meet your kids where they are, not to convince or teach but to love and walk alongside them. Pray for help to leave your worries and expectations with God. Ask God to help you recognize and focus on every good thing about your childrentheir humor, character, work ethic, and kindness. Give thanks that God is with your children and is chasing after their hearts and minds. Thank God for the open door of prayer and know He will be waiting for them when they are ready to seek. 

Encourage and bless. 

No matter where you are in your relationship, a prayer of blessing produces a gift of strength and sustenance. The apostle Paul used blessings in his letters to remind the churches they were not forgotten, that he believed in them and God was actively working in their lives.  

“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” —Ephesians 3:17b-19 

As parents, you can pour out your love and gratitude to God, on behalf of, and because of, your children. If you need a place to start, try praying scripture as a blessing. 

  • May the Lord bless you and keep you. Numbers 6:24
  • May the Lord be gracious to you. Numbers 6:25
  • May you know the value of perseverance. Romans 5:3-5
  • May you press toward the goal with hope and diligence. Philippians 3:14
  • May you know that every good and perfect thing comes from above. James 1:17
  • May you trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 
Older married dad with adult son using our prayers for adult children

Give God the hard stuff. 

The things you hoped, dreamed, and prayed for your little children are not far from the things you hope, dream, and pray for them as adult children—safety, wisdom, health, strength, kindness, and faith. Day by day, you and your spouse painted a picture in your heart and mind of what the future, their future, would look like. But as your children become adults, making their own choices and creating their own worldview, those pictures may look more like a broken China platter. There are fragments you recognize, but they might be surrounded by sharp shards, too. 

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” —Romans 8:26

In dark moments when the wordless groans threaten to overtake you, give it to God, even if your words aren’t sophisticated or they aren’t there. Give him your tears, too. 

Ask your spouse to pray with you and for you. 

Giving voice to your sorrow and asking your spouse to pray with you and for you lets them know you trust them with your heart and soul. And there’s a chance they didn’t recognize you were in turmoil. Parents often see their children differently. Gaining perspective and support from your spouse can help you find your way back into an easier communion with God.  

Ask a friend to pray with you and for you. 

“I’ll pray for you,” isn’t just a nice thing to say when faced with an illness or tragedy. Being part of the body of Christ is a privilege and responsibility to share your burdens and ask for intercession. Your friends want to be there for you. 

Lean on Scripture. 

Meditating on Scripture and focusing on God’s limitless love can strengthen or restore faith, gratitude, and trust. Seek out Scripture that reminds you of God’s steadfast love and write out the verses. He hears your prayers. 

Trust the Holy Spirit. 

When your heart is broken and you don’t know what to pray, trust that the Holy Spirit is with you and is able to intercede for you. Go for a walk and ask the Holy Spirit to calm your spirit and worries. Sing a song of praise, read the psalms, or repeat a few words of thanksgivingover and over and over. 

Ask God to help your unbelief. 

The reality is the question, “How do I pray for adult children,” is likely coming from a place of confusion, despair, or your own unfulfilled dreams. Even if everything is “fine,” as parents in this new phase of life you may feel like you’re on a rocky beachthe view is amazing but your footing is a little unsure.   

Feeling trapped by the paradox that God has everything in His hands but your parent heart is struggling to let go of the dreams, expectations, or fears is not a new problem.  

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” —Mark 9:24

The father in this passage believes in Jesus and trusts in His disciples, but when the disciples could not heal his tortured child, the father was compelled to try one more time to reach out to Jesus directly. It was not that he did not believe, but that his faith had been stretched to the brink.   

Being a parent is one of the most challenging parts of Christian life. Pray that God shows you the best ways to support your adult children as they navigate the world on their own. Pray that God will use the love and compassion for your kids in a way that will reflect His mercy and grace. And when you’re tired and not sure how to pray, try one more time to reach out to Jesus.

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