When my husband and I became Eastern Orthodox seven years ago, I knew I had come home. However, I wasn’t sure how to make my own home reflect my new faith. This series–”So I’m Orthodox, Now What?”–is based on the questions I asked myself in the first few years after our chrismation: How could I make our home a “Little Church”? How could I instruct my children in a faith that I myself was only beginning to explore? After some experimentation, conversations with older and wiser Orthodox mothers, readings, and instruction from spiritual fathers, I have found ways to create an Orthodox home. I hope that this series can provide encouragement and practical ideas for new converts and a forum for more seasoned Orthodox families to share their practices.
A few mornings ago I stood praying in my icon corner in the early morning hours. I was enjoying some blessed moments of quiet before my children awoke. And in the midst of my prayer, I began to have a small panic attack.
Worries and fears come crowding into my mind in such a sudden wave that I was nearly overwhelmed. “What if something happens to my children? What if they get sick? What if they get hurt? What if they get into trouble at school? What if they grow up and leave the faith? What if…?”
I think that most parents have been caught up with worry for their children at some point. However, worry isn’t generally productive, and can be downright harmful at times. So the next time you start to worry, try praying for your child instead.
Today I want to share 3 Orthodox Christian prayers for your children:
1. The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God: Nurturer of Children
The Akathist to the Mother of God: Nurturer of Children was one of the first Akathist Hymns that I ever prayed regularly. This beautiful prayer asks Christ and the Theotokos to watch over your children, to guide them in the faith, and to help them become devout Christians. In my favorite section (Ikos 5), the parent prays for the child using the Beatitudes: “Raise my children to be poor in spirit, that they may inherit the Kingdom of Heaven…Raise my children to be merciful, that they may obtain mercy…” Later you pray asking Christ and the Theotokos to “Raise my children to seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.”
The entire Akathist takes around 15 minutes to pray. It is an intense 15 minutes of bringing your children before the throne of God, of humbling yourself and realizing that your children belong completely to Him. A couple of years ago one of my goals for the year was go pray the Akathist to the Mother of God: Nurturer of Children once a week, and I absolutely would recommend that to other Orthodox mothers and fathers.
2. Orthodox Mother’s Prayer for Her Children
This prayer is shorter but powerfully beautiful.
“Holy Father, Immortal, from whom all goodness and gentleness comes,
Penitently I pray to you for the children whom you have given me to bear.
Keep them in your grace and holiness, that your name may be glorified in them.
Direct me, by your grace, to raise them toward the glory of your holy name and the benefit of others.
Grant me the gift of patience necessary to do so.
Oh, Lord, enlighten the minds of my children to learn to love your wisdom and to learn to love you with all their souls and thoughts.
Instill in their hearts the fear of every vice , that they may be able to go the right way without sin.
Adorn their souls with purity, goodness, humility, diligence, patience, and every virtue.
Guard their lips from all slander and lies.
Bless my children, that they may progress in virtue and holiness under your care.
O Good Lord, I pray you, grant me joy and happiness from my children.
Keep me in righteousness and justice, that with my children I may stand before you on the dread Day of
Judgement , and that without fear I may say,
‘Here I am, Lord, with the children you have given me, that together with them I may praise the most
holy name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages. Amen.’ ”
3. A Prayer of Parents for Their Children
Finally, this prayer of parents for their children comes from A Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians:
“O God, our heavenly Father, who loves mankind
and are most merciful and compassionate,
have mercy on your servants (insert children’s names),
for whom I humbly pray and commend to your gracious care and protection.
Be you, O God, their guide and guardian in all their endeavors,
lead them in the path of truth,
and draw them nearer to you, that they might live a godly and righteous life in love and fear,
doing your will in all things.
Give them grace that they may be temperate, industrious, diligent, devout, and charitable.
Defend them against the assaults of the enemy,
and grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption of this life.
And direct them in the way of salvation, through the merits of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,
and the intercessions of His Holy Mother and all the blessed saints.
When I had that moment of panic and worry during prayers a few mornings ago, I knew that it was an attack by the enemy. So I combated it with prayer for my children. I prayed the Prayer of Parents for Their Children and asked God to protect my little ones, to guide them, to defend them, and to lead them to himself.
God calmed my anxious thoughts. Through the act of prayer I was reminded of the One who loves my children even more than I do. And I rested in Him.
I love being able to access prayers quickly and easily. So, I wanted to share a printable that I have created with you! You are welcome to download and print The Prayer of Parents for Their Children. Keep it in your icon corner, put it on your refrigerator, or post it somewhere that will remind you to turn your worries into prayers. I hope you enjoy!
How or what do you pray for your children?
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