Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer for a Positive Environment in our School

posted by Mark Herringshaw

While we were doing research for our books, Six Prayers God Always Answers, and Nine Ways God Always Speaks, Jennifer Schuchmann and I developed a project to help parents pray for their school-aged children. Here’s the third of 30 simple prayers we crafted. This one offers a special blessing that the school our children attend would be a place of favor and hope. Take 30 seconds now and join with thousands of others who are reading this post to ask God for a special “dose” of favor!


God, we need your help in a culture so willing to criticize; may our school be a haven from destructive talk and negative thinking and fear.




When I Fear for my Child’s Safety… I Can Pray Yet Again…

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I do my best to raise my children. Is my best ever good enough? Honestly, good is never enough! There has to be something more! Writer and speaker Jennifer Schuchmann faces the sobering truth: she could never perfectly protect her son.  Jennifer wrote the following for a project she and I developed to help parents pray for their school-aged children. Jennifer and I have also written two books together, Six Prayers God Always Answers, and Nine Ways God Always Speaks.  Jennifer is also the author of the New York Times best seller, First Things First, a collaboration with Kurt and Brenda Warner.

When I ask my friends what they fear most for their children their worries are often very specific.

- I can’t protect my second grader from the flu that’s going around her school.

- I’m worried about what my 12 year-old son does at his friends’ homes. I think he may be looking at pornography on the Internet.

- My daughters fight every morning in the bathroom they share together and they know just what to do to hurt each other. I worry that they will never be able to get along.

- The school thinks my son might be ADHD but I’ve heard bad things about Ritalin. If I do something, I fear I could mess up his brain, if I don’t, I am afraid he will fail.

- I can’t control my teenager and I fear that she is using drugs.

- If I were to admit it, I would have to say that sometimes I get so angry at my child, I am afraid I will hurt them.

- This may sound stupid, but I’m afraid that the food I feed my family might be making them sick.

- I can’t stop my son’s fits of anger.


Many of our fears translate into fears about the future. We believe that our successes as parents now will translate into happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults later. Likewise, we fear our parenting failures will cause future problems. So we do what we think we can.


We take control.


While I quickly learned that I couldn’t protect my son from illness or injury, for a long time I believed that I could control his future. I thought getting him into the perfect educational environment would ensure his happiness and life’s fortunes. That delusion caused me to obsess over schools for years before he was old enough to enroll.


While Jordan was still in preschool I observed several changes in administration in our local public school and watched the exodus of good teachers. Concerned about the declining test scores, my husband and I decided to look at alternatives. We considered home schooling but knew that wasn’t the right fit for Jordan’s social personality or my temperament. We investigated a few faith-based schools only to see that the credentials of the teachers in our area weren’t always equal to the best private schools. We narrowed our search to about a dozen private schools.


For the next two years, I obsessed over the best way to get Jordan into one school or another. I sought advice from teachers, other parents, and educational professionals. I hired a tutor to help bring up his language skills. I spent many Saturdays touring classrooms. I had Jordan tested by the best psychologists in Atlanta in hopes that his raw intelligence would be enough to gain admission to a coveted school. 


I felt the right elementary school was critical. It would lead to admission in the right junior high school and eventually a prestigious high school where he would graduate with honors and gain admission to the college of his choice. This would then guarantee his future success in the workplace. If I could just control the school he got into, I could single-handedly ensure his happiness, wealth, and success in life. If I couldn’t do that, I feared for his future.


Ten years later, he is in a wonderful private elementary school and getting a fabulous education, but honestly, I am the one who has learned the most. Despite my efforts to manipulate his educational environment in an effort to affect his future, I’ve learned that every school has good and bad teachers and I can’t control which one is teaching him. Most days I can’t even control whether he finishes his homework and turns it in on time. Ultimately, he has more control over his education than I do.

Raising children is an exercise in humility: the quicker we learn how little we control things the easier it is to release our obsession with managing outcomes to the only ONE who truly can manage outcomes – God. Take a moment now and release the future of your children – once again – into God’s hands.


When I Fear for my Child’s Safety… I Can Pray!

posted by Mark Herringshaw

What else can I do for my child?  Is my best ever enough? Writer and speaker Jennifer Schuchmann faces the sobering truth: she could never perfectly protect her son.  Jennifer wrote the following for a project she and I developed to help parents pray for their school-aged children. Jennifer and I have also written two books together, Six Prayers God Always Answers, and Nine Ways God Always Speaks.  Jennifer is also the author of the New York Times best seller, First Things First, a collaboration with Kurt and Brenda Warner.

We can do many things to protect our children, but bad things still happen. I have probably worried more about my son’s health and safety than I have anything else, but experience has taught me that I have little control over these areas even when I do everything right.

When my son, Jordan, started to crawl, he liked to be chased. One day we played that game on the kitchen floor. I pretended to chase him, he would see me coming and laugh and giggle while his chubby thighs tried to crawl away from me. From this unique vantage point, I noticed a safety hazard. A stray Q-tip was on the floor, if Jordan saw it, he would immediately put it in his mouth, so I picked it up to throw it away. Jordan interpreted my quick moves as part of our game and scrambled to get away from me as fast as he could, but his arms gave out and caused his chin to hit the floor.

 An innocent game of chase-me in the quiet of our kitchen turned into a quick trip to the emergency room as the blood gushed from his chin. After the doctor’s examination, I learned we had avoided a serious injury by only millimeters; Jordan’s new teeth had nearly severed his tongue. How does a child go from the safety and love of his mother’s arms to the straight-jacket used to tie him down in the emergency room? How could this happen when I was right there?

 Before I had a child, I often heard that same protestation from other mothers. “I was right there.” “Yeah,” I would think, “sure you were.” Jordan’s accident was proof that I was wrong. We want so much to protect our children from the things we fear most and yet we have little ability to do so. A healthy child can still get sick and the safest environment can result in an injury. Our ability to keep our children safe is inadequate.

I confess that I also didn’t know fear until the day Jordan arrived. Joy. Love. Those emotions I expected. Only the intensity of the feelings surprised me. But the fear of not being the perfect mom, of not being able to protect him, and of being unable to provide for his every need, surprised me. Some may think the word fear is too strong, they might use words such as worry, concern, or anxiety, but the feelings are still the same–the lack of control we feel over someone we love so deeply.

 These initial worries seem trivial or maybe even irrational as our children get older, but at each stage we continue to face new ones that seem insurmountable. Those first fears give way to new uncertainties in our children’s development. By the time our children are teenagers we’re less worried about who is breathing on them then we are about who takes their breath away. What are their friends like when we’re not around? Should they date that person? Why aren’t they home yet? How can I make them happy or keep them safe?

And once we faced the fact that we cannot control our world or our child’s world, what then?  Knowing the limits of our love can be the beginning of trusting God’s.  It is here at this point of honesty that we can turn to God to provide the protection we cannot.  If you are struggling with fears for your child’s safety, it is a time and an opportunity for prayer.

“God, I cannot control the world or stop all the dangers that threaten my child.  My arms too short and my eyes are too limited.  The world outside is full of risks, but you, oh God are both good and powerful.  I know you love my child even more than I love my child.  I ask you to provide the protection I cannot.  You promise in the Bible to be a shelter for those who ask for your help.  I ask now for you to shelter my child against the dangers around him/her.  I choose to turn my fears into an opportunity for my faith, now.”


A Prayer for the Challenges Students Face

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Each day this month we are offering one prayer for one aspect of our children’s education.  Imagine the power of hundreds and thousands of us praying together for schools.  Even if you don’t have children yourself, you have some children in your life – nieces and nephews, grandchildren, neighbors. They all need your spiritual blessings. Here’s the prayer for today:


“God, nothing is insignificant to you so as students face academic, social, and physical challenges at school, bless them with your presence.”

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