Becoming a single parent is a life-changing experience. It requires massive adjustments and a host of coping skills, but many parents bravely do it alone. With a high divorce rate in many countries, single parents who gain custody of the children are a common occurrence. Divorce is not the only reason for singles raising their children on their own. The death of a spouse and the severe illness of a spouse rendering them unable to care even for themselves, are more reasons. How do you pray for yourself and your children as a single parent? The following are a few practical hints, with related Scripture verses. They can also be used to pray for single parents you know.
1. Make the most of the time you have with your children.
You have to make the most of it when you have limited time with your children. Do not take time with them for granted when they live with you. Pray that God will give you wisdom in the way you spend the time you have with your children. Ask Him to show you small needs that they do not necessarily express and for the wisdom in meeting their needs. Ask the Lord to give you the capacity to listen and relate to them in situations that are of concern to them.
SIMPLE PRAYER: Out of heaven let me hear Your voice, instruct me concerning Your ways (Deut.4:36).
2. Change your lifestyle and learn to plan things carefully in advance.
The planning of your business life or career must revolve around your children and their school holidays. Pray that God will give you favour in your work situation so that it will be possible for you to be available to your children. Also ask God for wisdom in your job/career and how to organise it in practical and beneficial ways, to the advantage of both your work situation and your children.
SIMPLE PRAYER: Show me Your way now, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And also consider my children Your children (Ex.33:13).
3. Children adore both parents, because they know they are part of both.
When one parent is angry or resentful towards the other, it makes the children feel guilty when they love both parents. After a divorce, parents will often still have to navigate a life-long relationship of accommodating the children. Ask the Lord to bring peace between you as parents. Ask the Lord to help both of you settle your differences and to find a peaceful way to interact with each other. Pray without ceasing about this vitally important issue – not only for yourself, but even more so for your children.
SIMPLE PRAYER: Father, I pray that grace and peace be multiplied to us as parents in the knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus (2 Pet.1:2).
4. When one parent cannot help with caring for the children.
Often one of the parents cannot help with looking after the children due to chronic depression or self-destructive tendencies, addictions, etc. This parent may still live in the house, but be completely unable to care for the family. Sometimes there are no other relatives or support, which means the other parent has to take on all the responsibilities. Pray that God will show you in wisdom how to care for your incapable spouse in a really meaningful way, even if it means getting full-time help. Ask Him to show you how to minister to both your weakened spouse and your children in times such as these. Pray especially, that they will have a revelation of their heavenly Father as they see you care for them in simple ways.
SIMPLE PRAYER: I pray that they may have eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
5. Being a widower/widow
If your spouse has passed away, you need a lot of wisdom with your children since you have all suffered a huge loss. Continue to pray for them and yourself until you experience that God has healed your hearts. Ask for grace to accept the situation and for strength to face each day ahead. Also ask God to protect you from rushing into another relationship with someone because of your own needs. Pray that He will provide the necessary care for your children.
SIMPLE PRAYER: Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You (Ps.25:20).
6. Entrusting your children to someone else’s care.
As a single parent, it is a major issue whom to entrust your children to when at times you are not available, due to other responsibilities. Ask the Lord to show you trustworthy mentors for your children, whether it be their other parent (if still alive), the parent of a school friend, a relative or someone from your church or work. Pray for a breakthrough in this area until you find godly individuals whom you respect and whose values are sound. This may be the greatest gift you can give your children.
SIMPLE PRAYER: I ask that my children will know and rely on the love You have for them. You are love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16).
7. Your children don’t need you to be perfect.
It is not important that you have to do everything perfectly, but rather that you be available to your children. Spend time with your children when you are together as a family, but also individually. Negotiate some ‘alone time’ with each one of them on a weekly basis. It needn’t be an hour at a time, but it does need to be at least once a week. Make sure you ask them questions and get honest answers. After such a ‘session’, always try to end your discussion in prayer for them and with them. In this way you model to them that they can always take their problems to their heavenly Father, even when you are not available. Ask the Lord to make you sensitive at these times; to not be in a hurry, but to be able to make them feel completely ‘heard’ by you, giving them your full attention even in the short time available.
SIMPLE PRAYER: Father, like Jesus, give me wisdom to explain Your ways to my children (Matt.13:36).
8. You need time with friends too.
It is important that you spend time with friends who can build into and enrich your life too. Ask the Lord to help you meet people of your age and with similar circumstances, who can also be prayer partners. If the opportunity arises, why not start a small group of three or four who will pray for and encourage one another on a regular basis. Be careful not to bury yourself in your work.
SIMPLE PRAYER: Father, grant me friends to pray with, because You say “when two or three come together in My Name, there am I with them” (Matt.18:20).
9. Having a mentor or spiritual father/mother.
Ask the Lord to show you a spiritual figure that you look up to. Consider asking this person to become your mentor or spiritual father/mother. This is a wonderful opportunity to receive insight and wisdom from someone with more experience. Jethro was like this to Moses in the matter of ruling Israel.
SIMPLE PRAYER: Lord, I have many instructors in Christ, but lack a true spiritual father/mother. Send someone my way whom I can imitate as he/she imitates Christ (1 Cor.4:15,16).
10. Give thanks for what you have.
We so easily get depressed and discouraged when we see what we lack or need. Nothing lifts one’s heart as much as making a special effort to look at the things you do have and then thanking God for them. Even when you’re driving your car or walking from one meeting to another, ask God to remind you to thank Him.
SIMPLE PRAYER: I give thanks to You o Lord, for You are good; Your love endures forever (Ps.118:1).