Lord, please guard my children in the way that they walk. Protect them from evil but more importantly protect them from being conquered by secret sin. Bring it to light that they will be free.
Would you rather have children who look good or children who understand grace and their own frailty when it comes to sin? You might answer "both"--but we can't often have both.
My pastor once told me about a prayer that he prayed for his children. He asked God not to let his children get away with secret sin. That is bold for a southern pastor. I always admired him for caring more about his children being right before God than looking good before his congregation. God faithfully answered this pastor's prayers--and it wasn't always pretty.
In Matthew 23:5, Jesus criticized the Pharisees for doing all of their good deeds for men to see. I can parent that way as well.
I always know when the appearance becomes too important.
-I reprimand my children for how a deed looks to others rather than what it looks like to God.
-I am more embarrassed before friends than grieved before God over a wrong deed by my children.
-I tend to boast of my children's spiritual deeds before other parents.
The longer I am a parent, the more I realize that teaching my children how to make things right with others and especially God after they sin, is an important life lesson. Imagine our grownup children in marriages or jobs where they don't know how to "make things right". I would say simply looking good won't get them far in life.
I challenge us all to pray a dangerous prayer over our children:
And after you pray this brave prayer, don't be surprised when God answers and His light reveals yuck. It really is a gift from God. And we have the opportunity to model a gracious heavenly Father as we help our children with their struggles.