When we think about how to pray for our teenagers, it seems like this should be an easy answer, right? I need to pray for their health, I need to pray for their safety, I need to pray they make good decisions, I need to pray for the right friends, I need to pray for their future spouse, I need to pray that they love and follow God…

Nothing wrong with that list, but there’s a big one that I didn’t know to pray until recently:

I’ve started praying God will capture their hearts. Key word: CAPTURE.

I remember when I first heard this prayer prayed. We were at a staff prayer night (My husband, Kent, is a pastor at LifeHouse Church in Middletown, Delaware), and our lead pastor’s wife prayed it over the staff kids…

“And God, I beg of You, capture the hearts of our children!” 

As soon as the words came out of her mouth, every mom (and a few dad’s!) in the room became emotional. It was so powerful, and I think we were surprised by it. I know I was. It was as if God was saying, “YES, that is the right prayer to be praying!”

In that moment, my parenting strategy shifted from raising good Godly kids to raising kids that can’t fathom a life lived without their Savior. Kids who crave His Word. Kids who are desperate for an intimate relationship with Jesus. Kids who are willing AND excited to walk the opposite way of culture in the direction of whatever it is God calls them to…because their hearts have been captured.

You see, we don’t need to ask God to help us control our kids or the circumstances our kids are in. And it goes deeper than asking God to make our kids love and follow Him.

We must ask for more than that.

Capture defined is: To take into custody, as by force. To gain control or exert influence over.

Good stuff, right? By that definition, don’t you want God to capture the hearts of your children?

If you’re the parent of a teenager, I don’t have to tell you the distractions they are faced with, nor do I have to tell you how much the world wants to “welcome” them, “love” them, “tolerate” them, and lead them on a path away from Jesus. I’m not trying to be dramatic. But we need to be reminded of this!

So often we will fight for our kids to get more attention at school, a better grade than they were first given, or more playing time in the game… but are you fighting for their relationship with Christ? Pray parents! Pray bold prayers. Pray for more, and then expect Him to do exceedingly abundantly more than you prayed. Because that’s just the kind of God He is.

God, will You take into custody, even if by force, the heart of my child? Will You gain control of them? God, will You influence every thought, movement, action, reaction, and word that they speak? Capture the hearts of my children, Lord. Amen.