The rabbis had a way of teaching prayer, called “Index Praying.” It consisted of a series of prayer phrases that would be memorized. A pause between each phrase would allow each individual to spontaneously expand the prayer, to personalize it and make it their own. The genuis of such an approach is that it provides both a track for praying, a framework, but with that dynamic flexibility.
The prayer that Jesus taught, what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer!” was probably an example of Index Praying. Each phrase was meant, not to be stiffly repeated, but to be a suggestion for a more expanded personal encounter with God.
Following the concept of “Index” prayers, here is a prayer acrostic! It transforms each letter in the above prayer into a word or concept for expansion.
B – LESS MY CHILDREN: B – Body
- God I pray for the body, the physical health and well-being of my children. That they would grow to be healthy, free of disease. That you would heal them. That you would not allow them suffer an untimely death. That they might live full lives.
- I pray for the health of their bodies as a temple of the Lord. Use that temple for your glory.
- May they be free of any addictions that would harm your temple.
- Protect them for danger. Put a hedge about them. May your angels watch over them and preserve their coming in and going out.
- This day – go before them, beside them, behind them. Be over and under them. Be with them and in them. Touch through them. May no danger or disease, no devil or delivish thing come near them.
B- L – ESS MY CHILDREN: L – Life Labor choice
- May my children grow to love and serve you!
- Enlist them for your kingdom purposes. Call them into ministry as a life endeavor.
- Make them missionaries for you – a missionary cleverly disguised as a doctor or neurosurgeon, a judge or a lawyer, a bank executive or the CEO/President of a corporation, an airline pilot or an astronaut, an educator or a college administrator, a television anchor or a journalist, a pastor or counselor!
- In whatever they do in life – may you be the greater passion that drives them.
- Be sovereign in their life choice. Direct their paths. Author the influences that will guide them into certain career fields.
BL– E – SS MY CHILDREN: E – Emotional Health
- Emotionally, I pray that they will know your peace because they have made peace with you.
- I pray that they will not live tormented lives. That the peace God will guard their heart, mind and soul; and will umpire the critical decisions of their lives.
- May they “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
May they “be content whatever the circumstances.” As Paul taught, may they learn your sufficiency whether “in need” or in “plenty.” May they learn the “secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry.” That contentment is in you. (Phil. 4:11-12)
BLE– S – S MY CHILDREN: S – Social Influences/Friends
Socially, may my children be influence by godly peers. May enough holy things surround them that they quickly know the difference between the unclean and the clean.
May they come to know the peace and wholeness that only comes by the embrace of holiness.
Protect my children from ungodly and unholy influences – from peers, from the public forum, from music and television, from the temptations and allure of the present world, from a desire for wealth and fame. Hem them in to you and righteousness.
May they be more of an influencer than the influenced.
May they, like young Jesus, grow “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
BLES– S MY CHILDREN: S- Soul/Spiritual Health
- Spiritually, may my children come to know you from a young age. May they not grow up and merely know about you – may they know you for themselves.
- I pray for the salvation of their souls. You have no grandchildren – they, themselves must enthrone you as Lord. God, save my children. Mark them with the Holy Spirit. Claim them as your own. Put them in your will. Adopt them into your family. Be their father.
- Let them know “the power of God” that saves those who believe. (Rom. 1:16). Help my children to believe in you.
- Save them God. Don’t let go of them. If they run away from the faith, may they run into you. Guard their faith. Keep them. May they always be committed to you. And God, will you – for my sake – always be committed to them, for ten generations!
BLESS M -Y CHILDREN: M – My Children and My Parenting
- Mine, these children are mine. Help me to live a godly, Christ-honoring life before them. Fill me with sensitivity. Give me insight into their personality and needs so that I can understand the best ways to guide them. I want them to grow to be holy men and women of God.
- May I be a loving parent. Remind them that these children are yours. May I ever be mindful that you are one step behind them watching how I treat them.
- Thank you for my children – may I always be grateful for them. May we never be estranged from one another. When life is hectic and busy, remind me that they are the most important gifts you have given me. Money and houses, jobs and friends will move in and out of my life – but I be their parents forever.
- Help me to have patience when they need to tell me something. Give me the capacity to hear their head and their heart.
- Give me spiritual sensitivity to turn their worries, troubles, and problems into prayer times. Teach me to teach them reliance on you.
BLESS M–Y CHILDREN: Y –Yours/Your Children
- I gave these children to you. Claim them as your own.
- May I raise them to know you. In a culture that knows no pace but frantic, may I teach them the power of stillness – “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). May they grow to know the power of quiet times with you.
- Let them sense your presence from the earliest age.
- Help me to raise them to “love the Lord with all their heart, and all their soul and all their might!”
- Give me balance – nurture and admonition. Love and limits. Help me to make them feel my love for them, and your love for them. Give me the grace to teach them the safety of moral limits so that they are glad to have your law written on the inner lining of their heart.
- Yours – these, my children, are your children. Be with them 24 hours a day. Live in their hearts. Be real to them. Whisper to them in the night.
BLESS MY C – HILDREN: C – Character
- Character – God, make these kids want to be like Jesus.
- Let them ask, “What would Jesus do!”
- I pray that the line between right and wrong would be clear in their minds and hearts.
- Give them a well-developed conscience. And they have the boldness to stand up for right, when everyone else is standing for wrong.
- Grow the fruit of the Spirit in their lives – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness (strength under control), temperance (Gal. 5:22-23).
- May my children have a kind and gracious tongue. May I not wound them or teach them to use language in wounding, offending ways. Let the “words their mouths and the meditations of their heart be acceptable in your sight.” (Psalm 19:14)
- Give them to courage to repent – to recognize and own responsibility for their mistakes (1 John 1:9). Teach them the liberating power of being forgiven and of forgiving. May they “forgive as the Lord forgave.” (Col. 3:13). May they be agents of reconciliation. May they, if they have harmed others, do the work of restitution. “Make them instruments of peace. Where there is hatred, let them sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.” (Francis of Assisi)
- As I teach them to “bear one another’s burdens” may I set them on a life journey that makes them sensitive to the hurting and the oppressed. (Gal. 6:2). May they have hearts of compassion for those whom society overlooks. “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3).
BLESS S MY C– H – ILDREN: H – Heart/Hearing
- Make their heart tender. May they never develop a cold or hard heart. Keep their heart in your hands.
- And as a result, I pray that they will hear and know your voice. Like young Samuel, I ask you to speak to them from an early age. And that they would respond and obey.
- The Scriptures I give them for memory be ever available to be recalled by the Holy Spirit for life direction and wisdom.
- God – speak to my children. Your sheep “hear your voice.” You talk to them. Talk to my children.
- Visit them in the night watches. Dance through their dreams. Speak to them through peers and pastors, through signs and wonders, by the agency of the Word and the Spirit.
BLESS MY CH – I – LDREN: I – Interest/Cultivate their Desires
- Cultivate the desires of my children. Direct their interests from the earliest ages.
- Wake up in them desires that will determine the future you want for them.
- Let their greatest interest be in pleasing you. Let the desire of their heart be to do your will.
- The books they read, the toys they play with, the programs they watch, the music they listen to, the teachers and public personalities they are captivated by – use all of those influences to direct their lives.
- Wake up in them early, interests and desires that will move them to the central purpose you have for their lives.
- Give them gifts – let them be comfortable with who they are, and develop the in the strength of their personality. May I recognize native giftings and talents, and call them out, helping my child to develop and cultivate those gifts. May I add to those gifts skills that will make them successful in life, successful in your service.
- Show them the “SHAPE” of their lives. The sum total of S – Spiritual gifts; H – Heart desires, scripted by you; A – abilities, native and acquired, the importance of their attitudes; P – Personality, it’s strengths and weaknesses; E – Experiences, the things you put in their path that will shape them for the destiny you have for them.
BLESS MY CHI – L – DREN: To L – Love You
- Love them – love my children. May they know that you love them!
- And may they come to love you – “with all their heart, and all their soul and all their might.”
- Let a love for you, consume their beings. And yet, may they never get caught up in attempting to earn your love.
- Let your love for them and their love you be the central defining factor in the life-choices they make. May they obey you, constrained by love.
- Let your love for them and their celebration of that love, overflow so that they love others. (John 13:34).
- Give them the confidence to let you love, even their enemies through them, knowing that because of your love, they “are more than conquerors.”
- Give them a love of creation and its wonder. May they see your fingerprints everywhere in nature. May they forever know they were created by you – a loving God. No mistake, no cosmic accident, no random chance rendering of evolution. You had them in mind from the creation of the world. Let me know they are of the earth, earthy; but they are more heavenly in design than earthly. They are spirits – with bodies; not bodies, with spirits. They are in your image.
BLESS MY CHIL – D – REN: D – Dare to be Different
- Give my children the moral courage to dare to be different.
- Don’t let this world squeeze them into its mold.
- In times of moral uncertainty and temptation, empower my children to stay the course, even they have to stand and walk alone.
- Put steel in their spirits. Let them, “hold fast to the Lord” (Joshua 23:8).
- Let them be more an influencer than the influenced. Make them salt and light. Let them change the flavor of any and every group they enter. Let their light shine.
- And yet, Lord. May they have a teachable spirit. May they have the capacity to stand for principle without rejecting the person whose principles they oppose. May they respond to and respect authority figures, even those figures represent unthinkable values. Give them the grace of a Daniel in the middle of Babylon’s ungodly government. Let them not only survive a world increasingly hostile to Biblical faith, let them thrive in it.
- I pray that they will not be silent. In the words of the Psalmist, I pray that they “will praise you, O Lord, with all [their] heart; [and] tell of all your wonders.” (Psalms 9:1-2). Make them bold witnesses for you, Lord.
BLESS MY CHILD – R – EN: R – To Reign in life
- I pray that my kids will “reign in life!” (Romans 5:17). May they “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18).
- I pray that they will never see themselves as powerless, as victims. That they would always know you as “the God of hope” (Romans 15:13). , will fill them with all joy and peace. “Our hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” For with the one who created all things out of nothing, nothing can be too hard.
- I pray that they will know that they are blessed, chosen of you, destined for success.
- I pray that they will be over, and not under. That they will be the head and not the tail.
- I pray that in any battle, you will go before them. That they will be confident, not fearful, before their enemies. Keep them from becoming impatient and quitting on the edge of victory. Develop strength for the long-haul, the capacity for endurance and perseverance. Let them be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
- I pray for an “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!” mentality.
- I pray that their confidence would not be in their abilities or intellect, but in the strength of your right arm, and in the certainty of triumph that comes from you.
- Even in triumph, may they be clothed with humility!
BLESS MY CHILDR – E – N: E – To Be Energized by the Holy Spirit
- Fill my children with the Holy Spirit.
- May they know the quickening sense of your presence.
- Let them come to rely on the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
- Let them know that if “the power that raise Christ from the dead dwells in them” that nothing this world holds can keep them from doing the will of God and being the man or woman God wants them to be.
- Seal with the Spirit. Mark their lives with your presence. Let them experience the sweet nearness of your presence.
- Empower them with the anointing of the Holy Spirit for whatever task you give them in life.
- May the Spirit manifest – in supernatural ways (the gifts of the Spirit) out of their lives.
- Let people say of them, “That is man or woman of God!”
BLESS MY CHILDRE – N: N – That they Never leave their faith …
- Never let them go.
- May they never forsake you or your ways.
- In any season of coldness or backsliding, draw them back to you.
- If they ever run, may them like Jonah run smack-dab into you.
- May they always be assured that “the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). May trouble only drive them closer to you. May temptation only cause them to lean more strongly on your arm.
- Be ever present in the lives of my children so much so that their thoughts are your thoughts. When I am gone, may my memory inspire them to do great things for you and your kingdom.
- Teach them to pray! Let them learn to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Eph. 6:18). Don’t let prayer die in my family tree. Raise up, from my seed, a generation of intercessors. May they fill up the incense jars in heaven with bold petitions. May they pray as you prayed, “with strong crying and tears.”
- When this or any other nation utterly forsakes you, may my seed be a faithful remnant who carries your story to the next generation and nurtures a Great Awakening.
The acrostic model is an adaptation of “Index” prayers. As I prayed through this a few mornings ago, in the pre-dawn hours, I found myself weeping for my children’s children. As you pray this prayer, using each letter and word of the “Bless My Children!” prayer, the creative Holy Spirit will inspire you. You will find yourself praying for them in ways not even suggested here. Most of us need a “track” for our prayers, but with that structure, freedom to pray our hearts. I hope this model will provide that for you.
P. Douglas Small