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March 21, 2024

Parents: Prayer Is Your Lifeline, Not a Last Resort

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Parents often reach out to Harvest USA when they sense they’re at the end of their rope regarding how to face their child’s declared LGBTQ+ identity. They’re hurting because of the painful realization that they can’t “fix” their child or change their mind. My colleague Joan highlights how, rather than seeing it as a last resort—“well, all we can do is pray”—Christians need to view prayer as our first and instinctual response when we encounter suffering.

Only God can change our child’s heart, and our most important role as their parent is to be a prayer warrior for them. I appreciate the encouragement from John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, when he writes, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” So, with the importance of prayer in mind, let me suggest a few key things for parents to pray for as they intercede for their wandering child.

Pray for Yourself

First, pray for your own heart and walk with God. Before you can be a positive influence in your wandering child’s life, seek to rest in the stability which only comes from Christ. Being faced with a child walking away from God’s good design will challenge you and your faith in profound ways. Abiding in Christ through the practical means of God’s help for us (public and private worship, consistent Scripture reading, prayer, and fellowship) is critical to holding steady through this storm. Camp out in the Psalms through this season of grief and sadness. John Calvin titled his commentary on the Psalms An Anatomy of the Soul because, he wrote, “there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.” 

Parent, remember that this journey with your child is as much about you and your relationship with God as it is about your child.

We often see the psalmists crying out to God with deep pain—with doubting and, at times, tottering faith. We find help and encouragement for our own prayer life in psalms of lament, like Psalms 42, 55, 69, 77, 88, and 142. The psalmist is very real and human, just like us. Parent, remember that this journey with your child is as much about you and your relationship with God as it is about your child. This painful trial is ordained by your heavenly Father for your good and growth in grace. Ask the Lord to teach you the lessons he has for you in this and to bring forth fruit in your life which will then be a blessing and strong witness to your child. 

Pray for Your Child

Secondly, pray for your child and their heart. In Luke 6:45, Jesus says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Pray that the truth which you have labored to teach and instill in your child would be continually brought to mind and used by God to change their heart.

Only God can change our child’s heart, and our most important role as their parent is to be a prayer warrior for them.

Your labors in the Lord for your child are not in vain.  John Freeman, the founder of Harvest USA, likes to remind parents that their child cannot escape the truth which has been sown in their lives. Remember Psalm 126:5, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”

Pray For the People in Your Child’s Life

Thirdly, pray against the counsel of the ungodly in your child’s life. In 2 Samuel 15:31, after David was told that the evil Ahithophel was counseling his son Absalom, we hear David praying, “O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” Pray in accordance with Psalm 1 that your child would not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, but that they would be brought to delight in the law of the Lord. These prayers for your child will require great faith as your child may, at present, seem far from God. But, as Hebrews instructs us, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Pray for God to use other people and circumstances in your child’s life to show them the path of life. Too often parents think they must be the primary catalyst for change in their child’s life. The late David Powlison, commenting on Proverbs 3:5–6, writes, “In every area of your life where there is trouble, God is calling you to a small step of faith and love. He is not calling you to solve what is wrong.” 

Yes—There Is Hope!

Two contemporary conversion examples demonstrate that, rather than clever arguments or persuasive words, “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b, NKJV). Becket Cook, a popular Christian author, speaker, and podcaster and former homosexual of 20 years, often speaks about his faithful praying mother who never gave up on him. He says that after he initially told his parents about his homosexual identity, his parents did not argue or routinely bring up the issue with him but committed it to prayer. After his mother’s death a few years ago, he discovered her prayer journal and specific prayers she prayed for him and his conversion over many years. 

Laura Perry Smalts lived as a transgender man for almost ten years. Her mother, Francine, recounts how she was undone by Laura’s transgender identity. But God used it to humble Francine, draw her into a deeper walk with him, and into deeper intercession for Laura. Laura cut off almost all communication with her parents for many years until God used a series of events—including designing a website for Francine’s Bible study—to get Laura back into the Word. This eventually led to her conversion. Take heart, dear parent, from these stories. God uses godly, praying parents to bring back his prodigal children from the far country and “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Col. 3:20a, NKJV).

If you are a parent, grandparent, or family member of a child who has adopted an LGBTQ+ identity and you need support, we want to help. Harvest USA has many resources and staff available to walk through this trial with you. Our curriculum for parent support groups, Shattered Dreams, New Hope, is available for purchase or free download on our website, where you can also set up an appointment with someone in our Parents and Family Ministry or browse other articles for parents.

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Joy Worrell

Parents and Family Ministry Staff

Joy is a member of the Parents and Family ministry team at Harvest USA. Joy has years of experience ministering in the church alongside her husband, Tim, who is a pastor. She has a degree in Communications. She and Tim have five children and two grandchildren.

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