By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Satan wants our children’s hearts. He wants to mess with their minds, deter their dreams, and take their hopes hostage.
As praying parents, you and I can deter the enemy’s influence on our children, especially when we are aware of Satan’s strategies.
So that you and I can know how to stand firm and pray specifically for our children, here are five areas of our children’s lives that Satan wants to enter:
1. Their Minds
This is probably Satan’s easiest tactic. After all, he doesn’t have to do much to get your children to think like the world. All your children have to do is listen to music, switch on the television, or surf the internet, and they are bombarded with the message that they are their own god and nothing matters in life but finding self-satisfaction.
Yet studies show that your children are still mostly influenced by what they see and experience at home. It’s not too late to be a praying family (if you’re not, start by praying together before meals), to have worship music playing in your car and home, and to speak God’s words when they need encouragement, direction or advice.
Pray that God will guard your child’s mind and that His words will be “loud” to them when they are in a situation of having to choose to whom they will listen. I’ve found that praying Romans 12:2 (and personalizing it for my child) brings peace to my heart – and hers: “And do not (let my child) be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of (her) mind, so that (she) may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
2. Their Choices
Every day your child makes a choice. And when it’s not a good one, Satan will try to heap guilt, remorse and an “I give up” attitude within your child’s heart. That’s why it’s important for you to be there extending grace when your children are dealing with the consequences of bad choices as a way of showing them that God’s grace is always available in the form of second, third, and millionth chances to try again.
Satan specializes in accusing and shaming us after we mess up, akin to a lion seeking to devour its prey (1 Peter 5:8). Yet God specializes in redeeming us and giving us a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You can show your child God’s grace and love even more during the times they are messing up than when they’re not. Some of the most meaningful, spiritually bonding times between my daughter and myself came after her failures, not her successes. Be there when the bad choice is made and be the loving voice of God, not the accusing voice of Satan. By doing that, you’re keeping Satan at bay through the power of God’s love and forgiveness.
3. Their Disappointments and Heartaches
Kids have many of these. Perhaps as many as adults have. And when the human heart is disappointed, it’s natural to ask “Where was God?” “Why did He allow this?” and “Didn’t He care?” Satan wants your children to doubt God’s presence, goodness, and love.
When we teach our children, at an early age, to heed the instructions of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and be thankful in all things (even the disappointments of life) we are reaffirming to them that God is a good, sovereign God who has their best at heart. We can then lead our children in thanking God, even when the disappointing or heart-breaking things happen, modeling to them how to be obedient and expectant of God in spite of disappointment.
Don’t underestimate the vulnerability of a child’s heart. Whether their pain is from being cut from a sport, experiencing a relationship breakup, rejection from someone they were crushing on, the loss of a friendship, or even the pain of their parents’ divorce, let your child know you are there for them, and so is God, and He can still work all things (even the disappointing things) together “for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
4. Their Insecurities
Children have multiple insecurities that include feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, poor body image, uncertainty about their likability, and so on. Yet, a child who is convinced that he or she is loved is a child on a firm foundation.
When I wrote my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I discovered that a child’s deep need for acceptance is often at the heart of every choice he or she makes concerning friends, dating relationships, activities, and where and how he or she spends her time. When your children know they are deeply loved and accepted for who they are, it will cause them to set their standards higher in relationships, rather than making decisions so they’ll “fit in” or “feel loved.”
One of Satan’s strategies is to lure your child toward friends or places or choices that will make them falsely feel loved or accepted. Deter that move head-on by convincing your children they are loved by you – and their Creator – so they will not be vulnerable to the attacks and distractions of the enemy to fill their love tank elsewhere. Share with your child Psalm 139:14, which tells them they are fearfully and wonderfully made, no matter what other kids are saying about them, no matter how they feel about themselves, and no matter what taunts the enemy is sending their way.
5. Their Schedules
Just like with adults, children who are busy, over-scheduled and constantly tired (and this often happens during their pre-teen and teen years) will not be as on-guard and alert toward the schemes of the enemy as a child who knows how to rest and enjoy life. So Satan will start with his subtle messages like “You’re too tired to go to church. Just tell your parents you need the extra sleep,” and “You have too much homework to participate in the youth group again. Tell them you’ll do it next week.”
A wise parent will notice that “next week” never comes because the enemy’s voice (or the child’s flesh) will continue to hold out. Encourage your children to rest, and keep God as a priority in their everyday lives. As they honor Him, He will honor them and that applies to their actions, their priorities, and their schedules, as well.
Our children will often live lives as hurried and overscheduled as they see their parents live. So model a balanced life of work, rest and worship. God speaks to us in the stillness and Satan screams at us in the busyness. Ask God for discernment in how to keep your child’s life simple and sane so Satan doesn’t step in and confuse.
Remember, your best strategy to defeat Satan is not through endless conversations with your child about priorities, morality, and honoring God. Instead, have endless conversations with God about your child’s priorities, morality, and choice to honor God. There will come a time, especially when Satan is on the attack, that it is far more effective to talk to God about your child, than to talk to your child about God.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and best-selling author who helps women and couples find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and her newest, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her books, ministry, or free resources to strengthen your soul or marriage, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.