Praising is choosing to trust God. This was made very clear to me as I worked through this excellent devotional, The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents by Becky Harling. In fact, this lesson is one of the main messages this author hopes other parents will grasp when they praise God, a lesson that she herself learned while praising. She says that “praising God isn’t just some glib hallelujah when finances are prospering, your health is flourishing, and your family is thriving. Praising God is an intentional declaration by faith that exalts God above your life circumstances” (16-17).
Honestly, even though I read her words in the introduction, by the time I had gotten through a few days of this devotional, I had forgotten that this was a lesson the author hoped I would learn. However, I learned it through the praise anyway. If you work through a book that prescribes specific different prayers for your children each day, eventually you’re going to be confronted with a prayer that’s hard to pray, and you’ll have to choose whether to trust God and pray it or not.
Each day of this devotional starts with a relevant Bible verse, followed by an invitation written as a letter from God to the reader. This is followed by verse references from which Harling pulled these words. She doesn’t ask the reader to read the verses, but I found it helpful to do so. Next, she guides the reader to praise God for an aspect of His character. Then she gives two or three worship songs to find on YouTube related to this character trait. A written prayer for the reader’s children on the same topic follows along with more Scripture references. Finally, she encourages journal writing with specific questions to help deepen introspection on the topic.
Some days didn’t apply specifically to my children at the time, but I was able to pray for their future whenever that occurred. Day 19, for example, focused on doubts our children might have. My children are young and haven’t expressed any serious doubts yet, but it was good to pray for the day that probably will come. Other days focused on areas for which it was easy for me to trust God to provide and areas I wanted His help, like Day 10, which included prayers for strength when I’m weary.
Some days, however, took faith to worship Him. In particular, Day 24, “your child’s longings,” had some prayers that were hard for me to pray, especially, “I thank You that as a human parent I am unable to fulfill every hunger of her heart” (pg. 133). It was hard for me to thank Him for that. I want to fulfill every longing that my children have. It’s hard for me to accept I can’t, but not only that, it’s good I can’t. Praising Him for satisfying my children where I’ve fallen short took faith I had to choose.
Most of the days I loved the music she chose and was thankful to have someone to lead me in beautiful worship music. I didn’t always fully enjoy the songs chosen, and it’s always easier for me to worship when I already know the song, but I tried to focus on the lyrics on the few days I had unfamiliar or unappealing music, a topic I just wrote about last week.
The end of the book is filled with “Scripture to praise God for His work in your child’s life,” which I think will be incredibly helpful for my future prayers. She also had other chapters that didn’t apply to me particularly, but I felt would be helpful for others: chapters with praises during grief over the death of a child, through disagreement with a spouse over parenting, for children of parents in ministry, adopted children, and children of divorce.
All in all, I found this to be a great addition to my quiet times and a book I can use again and again over my years of raising children to challenge and liven my daily prayer time.