1 Chronicles 29:19 “And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision.”
Do you ever feel like the “shelf life” of your prayer life is way too short? I am discovering, as a I press deeper into the discipline of prayer, that the sanctified antidote to this sensation is to pray more for the sacred span of human history that includes not only my life but that of my descendants. In other words, the predecessor has to become the intercessor.
David models efficiently the prayer of the visionary leader whose prayers concerned with the next generation:
Prayer enables us to see God refine the hearts of the next generation. (“perfect heart”)
If you could pray one last prayer for your child, what words and requests would you include? Notice that David, a man after God’s own heart, begins with the heart of his son. He had charged him (1 Ch. 28:9) to serve God with a perfect heart; now here he prays to God to give him such a heart. He does not pray, “Lord, make him a rich man, a great man, a learned man;” but, “Lord, make him an honest man.” The word “perfect” that is requested here carries the idea of “whole or complete in the keeping of covenant relationship.” David knew that if Solomon was connected to God on a heart level, the Davidic covenant was secure. Anything less, no matter how appealing, would compromise it.
May I caution you to not be overly concerned for the external advantages that you feel your kids and grandkids “need.” Allow prayer to remind you and refine you to focus primarily upon the heart out of which are the “issues of life” (Pr. 4:23). The formal education or vocational opportunities afforded your child can, at times, actually be counterproductive to their relationship with the Lord. The only sustainable model that has any chance of our faith outliving us is if it resides in the heart of those who follow in our footprints-footprints interrupted by regular intervals of our intercession.
Prayer enables us to see God produce obedience in the lives of the next generation. (“to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statues, and to do all these things.”)
Notice that David prayed that Solomon would “keep” and then “do” God’s law. The priority of this noble, visionary prayer was not just robotic compliance for a season but a long-term defense and esteem of the Scriptures. Only hiding God’s Word in this perfect heart would keep Solomon from sin (Ps. 119:11) long after the watchful eye of David closed for the last time in this life.
Our descendants will only experience the sweet favor of God if they do God’s Word. As James 1:25 reminds us, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” That faithful doings of our descendants must rest upon more than the constant monitoring of their “helicopter/lawnmower” parent. To be more permanent it must be more personal between them and God-a relationship that our parental prayers can be a part of initiating.
Prayer enables us to see God inspire the careful stewardship of assigned tasks to the next generation. (“to build the palace, for which I have made provision”)
David concluded his prayer for Solomon by asking God to help him not only keep heaven’s general commandments but in particular the ones that instructed him to build the temple. His concern was not just Solomon’s faithful management of the broad revelation from God but the portion personally entrusted to their family and future. While David has set in motion the specific provisions for the temple, God clearly revealed that the task would be completed, not by David but by Solomon (1 Ch. 28:6). David’s prayer was not selfish but sincere for his son to walk in the path directly laid out by God Himself.
The tendency as parents is to steer our children into the paths of our self-serving preference and convenience. What perpetual prayer does is remind us and those who follow us to seek for God’s clear directives and then walk in them. Don’t try to live vicariously through your children. Allow God’s Spirit to guide them as you prayerfully mentor and model to them the life of faith and commitment. This soul-level, submissive demeanor alone will age well…long after you are with the Lord.
Why pray for the next generation-because corruption is coming for every one of us like David! “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption” (Ac 13:36). As one author put it, “A big part of leadership is recognizing that your fruit often grows on other people’s trees.” The only way for the work of God through us to survive and thrive long after we are gone is for that same God to answer the heart-focused prayers that we have for those who will outlive and out lead us!