Jan 20, 2021

Praying for My Children--and All the Baptized

By Molly Barnett
Becky Eminger’s post about her wish for Christmas struck my heart sharply. She reminded me to pray for all of God’s baptized children as often as possible. She also presented the difficult truth that, as a parent, I do not have control over my son’s gift of faith.
I admit that this was a tough pill to swallow for a new mother of a young child with another on the way. What I can do is follow her wise example and that of many faithful Christian parents, and dutifully teach my son God’s ways by taking him to church every Sunday, practicing devotions as a family at home, praying with him, and letting him witness my own shortcomings that need Christ’s daily forgiveness.
The rest is truly the doings of the Holy Spirit as I fervently pray He keeps my young son, a toddler, in the one true saving faith and into life everlasting.
While I grieve with her and any parent of adult children who have lost them, either momentarily or permanently, to the world, I am also humbled at witnessing the gift of faith in the littlest among us.

As a Lutheran, I rejoice at the gift of infant baptism and the faith which springs from it and grows as the child is instructed in God’s Word. The moment between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, both with child, enters my mind with this topic.
Mary journeys to her cousin in Judah, and upon entering the home and greeting those within, John leaps within Elizabeth’s womb! Luke’s Gospel informs us, “And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’ ”
As I am pregnant now with my second child and regularly feel her vibrant motions, I can only begin to imagine the excitement Elizabeth felt when her son physically reacted within her to the Lord’s presence within Mary. I ought to meditate on these verses more often. Aren’t they beautiful?
Now that my son is a year and a half old and has heard daily prayers and weekly attends Divine Service with us, a sweet glimmer of his young faith seems to be shining. Almost daily, he will find our home hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book used in church, flip through the pages and “sing.” 
He cannot utter distinguishable words of prayer nor praise, but he, in his own way, is doing what he witnesses of the living saints. He knows that this special book is for singing, and he uses it as such, and boy, is it adorable. Not only is it precious to see him mimicking what he has seen, but it is also a picture of faith in God’s smallest children. They too, we confess, have faith in Him and believe though not able to confess with their lips quite yet. He did not need me to carve out a spot in the day to sing to God. He saw the hymnal, knew its purpose, and responded willingly. I cannot say for certain, but perhaps it is the Holy Spirit working within him. It is certainly possible.
Of course I want to gush over this ritual and claim some sort of pious credit of influence, but that is exactly what I ought not to do.
If Luther is right in the explanation to the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed that “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel,” then how much more applicable is this notion to that of someone else’s faith! Instead of gazing upon my son’s budding faith as the fruit of MY works, I need to change my posture by giving thanks to the giver of faith!
It is not for us to know the mysteries of God apart from what He tells us in Scripture. Therefore, it is certainly not for us to judge the faithful parents of children who reject the faith in their adulthood.
The devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh are very real forces working against God’s good work. Let us then turn to God for constant guidance in raising our children in all stages of their lives and seek His mercy. Let us not take credit if our children grow into faithful adults who regularly and joyfully attend church services. Let us give thanks for the gift of faith imparted to us in our baptism by the Holy Spirit and pray without ceasing for the little and big children of God.

Molly Barnett lives with her husband and son in Alexandria, Virginia where they are members of Immanuel Lutheran Church. Before becoming a mother, she taught fourth grade for six years at the classical Immanuel Lutheran School. She holds a B.A. in English from The Ohio State University and an M.A. in liberal arts from St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. Her favorite activities these days include walking outside with her family, playing the piano, and competing against her husband in various board games.

Image source.


  1. This! So beautifully stated and comforting! Thank you, Molly, for blessing us with this tender insight.

  2. So beautifully stated, Molly! Thank you for your tender insights on my post last month. God is good and desires all our children to be saved. May God bless you and your husband as you teach your little ones about our wonderful God!

  3. What a lovely, poignant post! I also have a hard time relinquishing the "directing" of my children's faith, wanting to tell them what they believe, not teach them so that their faith is nurtured. And I often worry that I'm not teaching them well enough, or shining my own light bright enough, and that they'll fall away sometime in the future. Which is a form of idolatry I have to constantly fight against and repent of, reminding myself that I'm not God again and again.


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