Twenty years ago, when I wrote the first edition of Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, the biggest kids-and-technology question Robbie and I faced was whether to let our children watch PG movies. On VHS tapes.
Today’s parents face a whole new nest of tech-related concerns–whether it’s the “easy-everywhere” access to online content, the threat of things like cyber bullying, or the very real (and increasingly common) link between high social media usage and low self-esteem and depression.
“The word I might use to describe how parents feel about kids and technology,” one father told me, “is probably panic. Or maybe terror.”
But technology isn’t going away; it will play an important role in our children’s future. Which is why, when I wrote Praying the Scriptures for Your Children: 20th Anniversary Edition, I interviewed a bunch of younger parents to see how they were parenting–and praying–with regard to this vital issue. And (spoiler alert) the news isn’t all bad. There are some really good things we can do (and pray!) as we work to keep our children safe and teach them to, as author Andy Crouch says, put technology “in it’s proper place.”
Here’s a sneak peek at an excerpt from the new book–which releases in less than two weeks!–along with a few prayers you can pray for your family right now…
Not if but when: One Family’s Story
Sara’s 12-year-old daughter, Allison, likes to create collages on the computer, using clip-art images and videos to make her masterpieces. At home, the computers have content filters and other parental controls, but the devices at her father’s office are not as protected. And one afternoon, when Allison was using an office computer to work on a project, some obscene pictures popped up on her screen. Immediately, her father got a text alert from his internet provider:
A porn video has been accessed from this location. A quick review of all the office computers revealed the trouble spot. But when asked what she’d seen, Allison denied all involvement. And the more her parents pressed for details, the more emotional and manipulative she became.
“That was not like her at all,” Sara said. “My radar was on high alert—and I realized that our greater concern was not what she’d seen or the exposure she’d had, but the choice she was making to lie.”
Thinking about what she calls her own “progressive sanctification”—one where the Lord continues to tenderly transform her heart—Sara resolved not to react in knee-jerk fashion, but to slow down and ask God for his counsel. “I wanted the Lord to teach me how to relate to my daughter, knowing that the way I treat her now will affect our relationship and her life in 20 years.”
She started with prayer.
God doesn’t reveal things to scare us
“I know the freedom that comes with confession,” Sara said. “I prayed that God would turn Allison’s darkness into light, and that she would know the joy of walking in that light and enjoying sweet fellowship with other people and with Jesus.”
Eager to have her own burden lifted, Sara reached out to an older friend—someone she knew she could count on not to gossip or pry, but to pray.
The woman responded with reassurance. “When God alerts us to something that is not right in our children’s lives,” she said, “it’s not because he wants us to be worried or scared. It’s because he wants us to pray. Our prayers open the door to God’s redemption, protection, and blessing in our kids’ lives.”
Noting that Allison likely felt embarrassed by what she had seen (and maybe scared to admit it), Sara’s friend pointed her toward Psalm 25 as a prayer prompt:
- Let Allison put her hope in you, Lord. Let her never be put to shame. (v. 3)
- Relieve the troubles of Allison’s heart; free her from her anguish. Take away all her sins. (v. 17-18)
- Guard Allison’s life, rescue her, be her refuge. May integrity and uprightness protect her. (v. 20-21)
Sara and her husband continued to pray verses like these, trusting in the Genesis 50:20 promise that God could take something so clearly intended for evil and use it to bring about something good in Allison’s life.
It wasn’t long before he did. The following Sunday, after hearing their pastor talk about the freedom the comes with confession and the triumph of grace over shame, Allison pulled pulled Sara aside.
“I need to talk to you, Mom.”
Allison broke down and revealed all that had happened, including her attempts to cover up what she’d seen by lying about it. As she confessed, Sara saw her daughter’s countenance change. It was as if a cloud lifted; Allison’s shadowy face became joyful and radiant.
The transformation made sense to Sara. “When we keep things hidden,” she said, “it always leads to deeper and darker things. It’s a mercy, not a burden, to be found out.”
Three “technology use” prayers we can pray
Technology use is just one of the new chapters you’ll find in the expanded and updated version Praying the Scriptures for Your Children. Other topics include things like praying for your child’s identity and their sense of belonging, as well as strategies you can use to build a prayer legacy in your family, teaching your kids to depend on God’s promises as they grow. You can pre-order your copy today (see info, below) but in the meantime, here are three short-but-strong scripture prayers from the book that you can pray for your children right now:
May we live with a heart of integrity in our home. Don’t let _____ set anything worthless before their eyes. (Psalm 101:2-3 CSB)
Cause _____ to look to you and be radiant, turning away from anything that would cover their face with shame. (Psalm 34:5)
Put your hedge of protection around _____. (Job 1:10)
Praying the Scriptures for Your Children: 20th Anniversary Edition ships on October 20. To preorder (and pssst, the hardcover version comes with a ribbon book mark and beautiful presentation page for gift-giving), click here for Amazon (they give me a tiny commission if you order from my site), or try ChurchSource.com, where (last time I checked) they were offering the book at a sweet pre-order discount. Whoop!
And if you missed last week’s story about praying for your children to share God’s love with their peers (my favorite prayer story in the whole book), click here to catch up!