How to Pray for the Child of Divorce
One of our goals at Hope 4 Hurting Kids is to find very practical ways to serve hurting kids and their families. For us, it is not enough to just speak or write generally about children who are hurting; we want to serve those children directly, and their families. We also seek to serve those who work with hurting children. One very effective means and practical way that we can serve these kids and this community is through prayer.
James 5:13-16 tells us:
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Prayer is important, and it is something that God calls us to do for one another. There are so many verses in the Bible dealing with prayer that I can’t possibly include them all here, but I do want to share a couple:
In Ephesians 6, Paul describes how we should put on the whole Armor of God. In verse 18, he reminds us that we should be:
…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Along those same lines, one of my favorite verses (in fact, the verse that concludes all of my e-mails) is Romans 12:12 which says:
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
There is no denying the importance of prayer. As children’s ministers, volunteers, workers and followers of Christ committed to helping kids, part of our mission and fight should be undertaken in prayer. In this article, we want to look at how we can pray for the child of divorce? What types of things should we pray? I want to share a number of ways we should pray for these kids and a few that we should not. I have tried to group them by category to make them easier to use. If you know a child of divorce, here is something that you can do that is very practical and is also something that can be done from the comfort of your own home, office, car or wherever you might be.
Pray about Divorce in General and Our Divorce Culture
Divorce is rampant in our culture and has become increasingly common and accepted. The following are a number of prayers related to the general condition of divorce in our culture.
- For a strengthening of marriages, and the institution of marriage, in our country and around the world.
- That the divorce rate in this country would continue to decrease and that those having children together would marry.
- That God would help hurting couples and that, through His love, hurting couples would find hope and perseverance in their marriages.
- That cohabiting couples would commit to marriage and stay together especially where there are children involved.
- That God would raise up godly men and women to stand in the gap as role models for the children of divorce.
- That hurting and lost children of divorce and children in single-parent families would feel the comfort and embrace of God.
- For wisdom for our leaders in setting policies and passing laws related to divorce.
- That our legal system would protect children and place a high level of importance on their needs during their parents’ divorce.
- That children of divorce would not repeat the pattern of their parents but would instead fashion healthy God-honoring relationships as they grow into adulthood.
- For hurting marriages that God would reconcile both parties to one another.
- For children of divorce who seemingly “adjusted well” that the impacts of their parents’ divorce would not overtake them at a later point in life.
Pray for the Church
It is the churches’ job to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to the lost and hurting of this world. That is an ample description of the lives of children of divorce and children from single-parent families. As those concerned for these kids, there is much that we can pray for when it comes to the local church. Here are some ideas on how you can pray for the church as it relates to children of divorce.
- That God would open the hearts and minds of church leaders to the plight of children of divorce.
- That God would raise up godly men and women to lead ministries within our churches designed to minister to children of divorce and single-parent families.
- That children’s pastors and children’s ministry directors would recognize the magnitude of the issue of divorce when it comes to their ministries.
- That churches would be welcoming, inviting and loving places for children of divorce.
- That churches would encourage strong marriages and discourage divorce where appropriate.
- That churches would be welcoming in both word and deed to adults and children going through a divorce.
- That churches would be accommodating to children of divorce who often begin to attend church by themselves following their parents’ divorce.
- That churches would start ministries to adult children of divorce who oftentimes are still suffering the lingering effects of their parents’ divorce.
- For programs that would train and equip churches and volunteers to more effectively minister to the children of divorce.
- For those who are raising the alarm and calling churches to more effectively minister to children of divorce.
- That God would raise up more workers from within the church with a passion for ministering to children of divorce.
- That churches would recognize that the traditional married parent family is no longer the norm in our society and that they would find ways to minister to less traditional family structures.
- That teachers and preachers would give thought to the language that they use in preaching and teaching so that children of divorce and children from single-parent families would not feel “left out” or excluded from God’s story.
- That the church would approach children of divorce and divorced families with an attitude of love and grace rather than with a sense of judgmentalism.
- That volunteers and those who work with children in the church would see divorce from the child’s perspective.
- For guidance for children’s ministry leaders, workers and volunteers on how to be more inclusive of children of divorce in their lessons and programs.
- That the church would view children of divorce as a mission field.
- That the church would find ways to reach out into the community to children of divorce.
Pray for a Specific Child of Divorce
More than anything else, the question we get is:
“What can I do to help the child who comes up to me and tells me that his or her parents are getting a divorce?”
We will get into that question much more deeply in coming articles, but one of the first things you can do is start to earnestly pray for them. Here are some ideas of things you could pray for them.
- That the child would be comforted in the arms of God as they navigate through the storm of their parents’ divorce.
- For their safety and protection as new people are likely to come in and out of their lives in the homes of their now single-parents.
- That they would feel the comfort of knowing that their real home is with Jesus and not in shuffling back and forth between the two homes of their parents.
- That they would be able to be open and honest about their feelings and process through the grief that comes along with divorce.
- That God would find a way for them to continue to come to church to learn about Jesus and the love of God.
- That God would bring other people into the child’s life, in addition to you, to help and support them through their parents’ divorce.
- That God would raise up other family members to stand in the gap for these kids and fill roles that their parents are no longer filling.
- That the child of divorce would not have to give up their childhood and grow up exceedingly fast because of the divorce.
- That they would continue in their walk with God and/or that they would know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
- That God would help them to understand and accept that the divorce is not their fault and that they did nothing to cause it.
- That they would understand that the divorce of their parents’ does not define them. Their relationship with God does.
- That Christ would be the constant in their lives as everything else around them changes.
- That they could effectively grieve the divorce and the loss of their old life and intact family.
- That God would give them times of great happiness but that He would also allow them times of sorrow and grief to process the divorce of their parents.
- For clarity as they try to reconcile their parents’ increasingly separate worlds and navigate through the stream of competing and often conflicting rules and desires of their parents.
- For faithful and loving friends that will stick with them through this difficult time in the life of the child of divorce.
- That God would give them answers to any spiritual questions related to the divorce.
Pray with a Child of Divorce
In the last section, we dealt with several things you can pray about in your personal prayer time when it comes to specific children of divorce. Many times, however, you might be asked or called on to pray with a child who is going through their parents’ divorce or just found out that their parents are divorcing. Here are some specific things you can pray for with that child in those circumstances.
- That God would help the child deal with any fears associated with the divorce of their parents.
- For peace and understanding.
- That God would help them to share what they are feeling inside with other people that they trust.
- That God would comfort the child through the process.
- That God would help the child to continue to honor their mother and father.
- That they would feel the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
- That they would continue to grow in their knowledge of and faith in Jesus Christ.
- That God would carry them through the storm of the divorce and help use it to make them stronger.
- That God’s will be done in all things.
- That they would understand that God’s love is eternal and that God loves us because He chooses to love us, and that will never end.
- For smooth transitions as they move from one house to another.
- That they would feel safe.
- For ease in adjusting to new people, places and situations.
- That God would give them constructive ways to express their emotions and concerns.
- That they would come to know their Heavenly Father who will never leave them or forsake them.
- For the peace that comes through Jesus Christ in this tumultuous and chaotic time in their lives.
- Ask the child of divorce what they would like you to pray for them. Ask for specific prayer requests. Do not settle for broad generalities. These kids know their needs better than anyone else, but remember that they might have trouble expressing them.
- Encourage them to pray for other people. Praying for others will help to take their minds off of their own situation.
A Word of Warning about Praying with Children of Divorce
There are certain things that you SHOULD NOT pray for, especially when you are praying with a child whose parents are getting a divorce. They include:
- Never pray with a child that his/her parents would get back together. Many times this prayer will not be answered and can easily lead a child to question the goodness and faithfulness of God. Instead pray for God’s guidance and protection for the child.
- Never pray in such a way that you would appear to the child to be passing judgment on one or both of his/her parents. The child of divorce needs to feel free to love and respect both parents, and you should not undermine this in your attempts at prayer.
- Never suggest things that the child should be fearful of, angry at, anxious about, etc. under the guise of praying for God’s comfort or strength. Unless a child has specifically mentioned an emotion or problem, pray in general terms so as not to sow additional seeds of worry or doubt in the child’s mind.
- Never pray for a child to feel a certain way – happy, content, etc. Children need to be free to feel whatever they feel as they are grieving the divorce. Instead, pray for constructive ways to express those feelings.
- Remember that every child will react to divorce differently. Don’t assume that just because one child of divorce asked you to pray for something that all children of divorce will want you to pray for the same thing.
Pray for the Family of a Child of Divorce
The Child of Divorce oftentimes suffers because their family has been ripped apart when they need that support system the most. One of the greatest ways we can pray for children of divorce is by praying for their families. Here are some ideas.
- That parents would set aside their difference to concentrate on the needs of their children.
- For God’s comfort and healing in the hearts of the parents.
- For siblings, step-siblings and half siblings that they could come together in a new family unit.
- That the parents would turn to God for guidance and stay in their faith community.
- For godly men and women to help meet the needs of newly divorced mothers and fathers.
- For step-families that God would work in their lives to help their new blended families to be open to and love one another.
- That parents would have people that they can talk to to process through the emotions of their divorce so that they do not use their children of confidants.
- That parents would seek outside help to deal with their emotions and issues related to the divorce.
- That both parents would remain active and engaged in the child’s life throughout the divorce process and beyond, especially fathers who many times become less active in their children’s lives after divorce.
- That parents would not ignore the discipline of their children through this difficult time, and that they would always discipline out of love.
- That parents would remain in control of both themselves and their family.
- For solid relationships between the child and various members of their family.
- For grandparents that they would be a source of stability in the child’s life as everything else seems to be changing.
- That parents would continue to be parents and let their kids continue to be kids rather than thrusting their young children into adult roles.
Pray for You in Dealing with the Child of Divorce
In your prayer time, don’t be selfish, but also don’t forget about yourself. If you have come into the life of a child of divorce, you should be committed to ministering to them for the long-term. That will require wisdom, patience and perseverance. Here are some ideas for things that you should pray for yourself in your dealings with children of divorce.
- For wisdom from God and that he would give you the right words to comfort the child and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.
- For protection from attacks from the Evil One. Marriage is an important institution to God. Children are also important to God. Your efforts to help children through the trauma of divorce is bound to meet with opposition.
- That God would give you the wisdom to know when it is the right time to listen and when it is the right time to speak.
- For an abundance of patience and perseverance. Working with children of divorce is a long-term process and you will need an abundant supply of both.
- That God would give you an understanding of what the child of divorce is going through so that you might empathize with them.
- That God would give you the strength to overcome any fears related to working with the child of divorce.
- For opportunities to meet and minister to the family of the child of divorce as well as other adults who are important to and influence the child of divorce.
- That God would give you insight into the child’s view of divorce and the emotions they are experiencing.
- For opportunities to bond with the child outside of the normal setting.
- For the right language to use in speaking to the child of divorce.
- That you would reflect the light of Jesus and the glory of God in dealing with the child of divorce.
- That God would make you a good listener when it comes to the child you are dealing with.
Pray for Hope 4 Hurting Kids
If we could presume upon you for a few minutes, there are also a number of things that you could pray about for those of us here at Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Our ministry started as Divorce Ministry 4 Kids before becoming Hope 4 Hurting Kids, and we are passionate about helping these kids and their families. We would appreciate your prayers:
- That we would continuously and unwaveringly continue to beat the drum for the children of divorce.
- That God would give us the wisdom to see needs and meet them.
- That we would always keep Jesus Christ and His Gospel at the center of everything we do.
- For financial support for the ministry that would allow us to continue to expand the work we are doing.
- For opportunities to tell others about the needs of these kids.
- For wisdom and discernment as we attempt to discern and be faithful to God’s will and the call on this ministry.
- That those needing help in this area would find us.
- For partnerships with other ministries already involved in the area of divorce that would allow both ministries to impact more lives.
- That everything that we do would bring glory to God.
- For protection for us and our families as we continue to war against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” in the fertile battleground of children’s souls.
This article updated and adapted from an article originally published on Divorce Ministry 4 Kids in four parts from May 30, 2012 through June 4, 2012.