How to Pray for Parenting Guidance

By Jessica Wolstenholm

I opened the door in the mudroom that leads out to the garage to start my mid-morning workout. My kids were laying on the couch watching a show. I put one foot onto the wooden step and then remembered my son’s summer workout schedule, the one my husband put together for him to keep him active and growing stronger instead of vegetating in front of an iscreen all summer.


“Hey bud, please get your sneakers on and come out here with me. It’s time to exercise.”


He nodded and slowly slumped off the couch to grab his sneakers.


Aw, just let him stay on the couch, I thought to myself, it is summer break after all.


“Ok, come meet me out here when you’re done getting your shoes on,” I instructed him one more time, for good measure. But even still, that second voice was very audible in my head, is this really necessary for him?


I wish I could tell you that every parenting decision I make is stamped with a seal of one hundred percent confidence that I am doing precisely the exact right thing for my kids in that moment. I wish I could say that every disciplinary act, every instruction given, every decision made for their future was made without a trace of doubt or uncertainty. But that would be a lie. Because the truth is, clipping right behind the heels of every parenting decision I have ever made is a hazy gray cloud named Ambiguity. And it makes me wonder if I ever actually make the right choice.


I say no to Doritos for a snack … maybe I should just let them?


I instruct them to turn off the TV … but they’re right in the middle of the show …


I sleep train my baby by letting him cry it out … am I damaging our trust relationship?


I send my child to public school … am I doing him a disservice by not choosing private Christian education?


The scenarios are as myriad as the battling emotions attached to each one. I want what is absolutely best for my children, but it is just so hard to know the right answer each time. I suppose the problem lies in knowing that there isn’t just one right answer. So how do we navigate this world that presents us with not just an up or down elevator but the kind from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory that can send us sideways and longways and squareways and any which way we can think of?


The “J” on the end of my ISFJ Meyers-Briggs personality type means that I like structure. I like black and whites, rules, clear options and outlines. This Wonkavator world is really hard for me sometimes. But there is a verse in God’s word that does make things a little more cut and dry and comfortable for someone like me.


James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all …”


My natural state isn’t exactly filled with the wisdom of God. Like I said, it’s usually filled with battling desires and decisions all tainted by a sinful heart. But God promises that He will give wisdom to anyone who asks, and that He will give it generously. And so that is my strategy against the sting of self-doubt. In a moment of uncertainty I send a quick prayer heavenward for guidance, no matter how seemingly small the situation, and trust that the Holy Spirit will prompt my heart and mind accordingly. And then, most days, I follow through, trusting fully that whatever the result was, it was exactly how the Lord wanted it to go.


You know, this is not a foolproof plan. Being human I am sure that I move out of fear or insecurity or anger or frustration too many times to count. But submitting my decisions under the umbrella of God’s wisdom gives me more confidence than I could ever muster on my own.