Praying like a Parent (Hebrews 11)

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 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” (Hebrews 11:23)

Question: When do you disobey the law of the land?

Answer: When the law of the land cuts across the law of God.

The writer to the Hebrews is focusing on the shaping power of faith; on how it can drive history and orchestrate destiny. “By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (v3). This is the principle by which we embrace the “How?” and the “Why?” of creation itself. God forms with words the things that are not because he sees the Big Picture of what will be. And we enter into that “assurance about what we do not see.”

And nowhere is this concept more obvious and down to earth than in the way a parent “believes” for their child. The writer is about to pick up the story of Moses, as an example of the kind of lifestyle for which “the ancients were commended,” but before he does so, he considers the faith of the parents who made that life possible.

It’s a precious preface.

Sometimes our culture over-emphasises the value of the self to the point where we see value nowhere else. We think of our gifts, our ministry, our blessings and even our sins to an obsessive level -a selfish level- that misses the bigger faith-view of what God s doing through us, around us, and into the lives of other people because of us.

It’s humbling to think of yourself as a prelude, as the opening number in a story that doesn’t actually include you!

It’s something that John the Baptist acknowledged, that he was merely a forerunner,a prelude to the story of Jesus.  And he came to understand that, to the point of saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30).

But every parent knows this full well. Every parent sees in their child something of themselves, something of their partner’s, and something unique. But it is the joy of parenthood to contemplate not only what is, but what will be, to look down the years ahead and imagine…

Now this is not the same as burdening the child with unreal expectations, or bullying them with your own unfulfilled expectations. We make many mistakes, sure, but Jesus simply brushed aside every parental inadequacy, and got to the heart of it: “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…” (Luke 11). Despite our own failures we still understand the faith-principle of wanting, hoping, dreaming and believing the best for our kids.

And that’s exactly how God dreams for us.  “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (Jeremiah 29:11). He’s a good, good father.

And this is exactly how the writer to the Hebrews presents the parents of Moses, as good, good parents with hopes and dreams. By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” 

Look at what faith does: it overrides personal concerns; it crushes fear; it sees potential and it effects action.

And more than all that, it is driven by love. Anything not driven by love is just a noisy gong, a human project, a worthless religious Merit Badge. But when love drives faith, it achieves the extraordinary.

Consider what that loving faith did in the lives of these parents of Moses and what it can accomplish through your own life.

1. It overrides personal concerns

It’s the perfect antidote to the me-first ideology that can so spoil your walk with God. When you think as a “parent,”  (I’m using it as a metaphor now) you are no longer cluttered and confined by selfishness. You have to learn to think child-first.

2. It crushes fear

The love of the parents overrode any fear of Pharoah’s retribution. Love is always stronger than fear. Jesus went to the cross to establish that very truth as the cornerstone of the community of Christ. “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but  power,  love, and a sound mind.

And take note: You can break the power of fear over those you are parenting.

3. It sees potential

“They saw he was no ordinary child.” Of course, you might say, every parent believes that of their child! But that’s exactly the point. Every baby born is 100% potential. It’s all they’ve got! And every halfway reasonable parent wants the best for their own.

And every spiritual “parent” learns to see those around them in the same way.

4. It effects action

“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born.” They did it! They broke the human law because the law of God overrode it. But to do so required courage and commitment. By faith, they were prepared to put their own lives at risk for the sake of their own child.

And looking by faith into the lives of others may require costly commitment and years of loyalty. But God calls us to do it, and he would not give us a load we couldn’t manage. And the “load” is easy, and joyful;  and the “commitment” and “loyalty”  is mostly measured in prayer.

So how do you pray? Pray like a parent. You know how to give good gifts.


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2 Responses to Praying like a Parent (Hebrews 11)

  1. Funny how this was on my heart today and I blogged about a related parenting issue. Overcoming my parent fear is an ongoing struggle, even more now since my sister lost her little boy last year. It’s hard to trust God and let go of your most precious possessions.My prayer is that we are spared that, but I also accept that God is a good Father who knows what is best for us even if we imagine it to be the worst.

  2. caroline hamilton says:

    I had a thought about Moses a while ago. His parents actually did fulfil the law – the law said that the babies had to be thrown in the river. They placed Moses in the river as the law required – but God showed them how to do it in such a way as His purposes could be fulfilled. This gives me hope as a parent that even though the world places unreasonable and sometimes downright destructive demands on our kids, God can navigate us through so our kids can fulfil His plans.

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