I have two children–daughters. Today is my youngest’s 18th birthday. This thought is more than I can completely comprehend. She was born in the shadow of a new millennium in a place far-away from the land of my fathers. Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I teased about naming her “Y2K”, but instead I chose to name her after a deacon in the Bible. This is my prayer for Phoebe. 

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Phoebe Greening, My Baby Girl

Dear Lord, first I want to give you thanks for Phoebe’s presence in the world and in our lives. To say she is unique would be an understatement–and I thank you for that. Her physical beauty is only eclipsed by her wit, charm, maturity, and intelligence. I thank you that she is bright, conversational, and likable. These are characteristics that make sharing life with her so enjoyable. I thank you for the confidence she feels in her bones–and I likewise thank you for the humility easily visible in her heart.

One of her attributes, Lord, is that she is a hard worker. She throws herself into tasks, sometimes to the point of obsession. I pray two specific things about this. First, use this for good by giving her the wisdom and discernment to choose wisely what to throw her effort into. Guard her from the mistake of giving her heart and efforts to people and projects unworthy of her devotion. The second thing I pray is that she learn to temper this passion for work with a healthy balance of rest, enjoyment, and pleasure. She has it in her to over-focus on the task and neglect what really matters. Keep her from that temptation.

I pray she achieves her many goals. She has a preferred college and I ask that you show her favor with the admissions process. She has dreams of being a diplomat. Let her, let her do that work and use her to bring peace in at least some parts of the world. She wants to get married someday, and I ask that you begin to prepare that young man for her. I ask that he be a kind, generous, nurturing man who loves you and who will love her, support her, and give her the space to be the woman she yearns to be. She wants to have at least one child–I pray that you let her. Let her have a boy or girl, and more if that is your plan. I further pray her children be as big a blessing to her as my daughters have been to their parents.

As she transitions from childhood to adulthood, I ask four things:

  1. Give her a heart for purity.
  2. Lead her in an unwavering commitment to truth.
  3. Surround her with good friends who will love her.
  4. Put good leaders–teachers, supervisors, mentors–around her that will challenge and instruct her with wisdom.

The world she lives in is so very different than the one I became an adult in. Lord, I ask that you protect her from the evil hand of terrorism and the hatred of war. Give her understanding to not become entrenched in the ugly pettiness of divisiveness inherent in today’s public discourse. May she never know  poverty. I ask that her health be good. Protect her from temptations of drugs, addictions, and easy solutions to complicated problems. May her wine vats always be filled with the best vintage. May her cattle multiply on every hillside. May the oil of peace and blessing flow freely upon her head. When hard times do come, as they always do, show her how to let integrity be her guide, faith be her comfort, and your presence be her bedrock.

Teach her when she should stay and fight for what she believes in.

Teach her when she should run as fast as she can from a toxic situation.

Teach her when to ask for help or counsel from others.

Teach her when to stand alone or reject the folly of others.

Almighty God, the four of us have always been tight-knit and close. I am so grateful that there are no barriers among any of us, and that my children love each other and like each other. I can see in their eyes and the way they interact, that even though they are both so different from one another, they are the best of friends. I pray that remain, but in a grown-up way as we all transition. It is hard for me and my wife to let them go into the big world. My desire is to always protect, always provide, always be present. But that is not the way you made us. You made us to grow up and leave home and make our own way in the world, yet having the reliable connections to family as a safe and nurturing support. Help me to make that leap–the leap of walking beside her as an ally and not in front of her or over her as if I were a ruler. She doesn’t need me to carry her any longer. She needs me to watch as she walks on her own. She doesn’t need me to drag her down the right path, she needs me to be ready to explain to her where the different paths lead and how she will have to live with her choices. Help me do that, Lord. I’m not very good at it.

You know the good I want in her life because I love her, and I have loved her long before she was ever in the womb. Yet you have loved her from before the foundations of the world. Therefore, in all I ask, I submit to your divine will and plan–and I make it my ultimate prayer for her–that she will commit herself to you throughout life, follow your will and ways, and be used by you for you purposes.

I ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the knowledge the Father loves all of his children. Amen.