Over the past few months, a lot of change has happened in my life – new city, new church, new marriage, new friends, new job. God has graciously provided me with so many wonderful new blessings. I struggled most, though, leaving the blessings of my past season of life behind. Above few things, I fiercely miss the student small group I taught for three years. God allowed me to teach and nurture twenty beautiful girls from 6th grade to 9th grade. I walked with them through excitement and through hurt. I saw their faith and maturity grow exponentially. I laughed with them and cried with them. We had slumber parties! I delighted in God using me to disciple them.
Now, though we text occasionally and hope to visit, I am no longer a major part of their lives. This is so difficult. Even when I was with them, I worried about them understanding what I was teaching them and seeking a relationship with God. I wanted so badly for them to experience the joy of a relationship with Him, and I (foolishly and proudly) thought I would be the one who would make it happen.
God quickly revealed after my attempts to reach one girl failed that their faith did not lie in my hands. Hallelujah! As much as I loved them and wanted them to seek Christ, God the Father loves them and desires them infinitely more! I could not force them to obey God’s word, but I could display faithful obedience in my own life. How liberating it was to realize that the omnipotent Creator of the universe was working in the minds and hearts of those I was discipling. All I must do is trust and obey Him, holding my girls with open hands lifted to Him.
This didn’t immediately stop my prideful worrying, however, so I began seeking a passage I could pray over all of them. Although I prayed individually and specifically for each girl, I wanted God to bless them with certain things as a group. Whenever I began to fret over a lesson or a tough conversation, I would pray Ephesians 1:15-21 over my girls:
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
I chose this passage for a few key reasons:
- I thank God for those He has allowed me to disciple. Sometimes it’s hard and frustrating, but it is first and foremost a blessing. Let us never forget God is giving us this chance to make an impact on His kingdom and thank Him for it.
- I pray that He would reveal Himself personally to them. It isn’t enough for them to hear me. God must cultivate the soil in their heart to receive and understand His message. I can only speak; I pray that God would allow them to hear.
- I pray that God would captivate their hearts with their “glorious inheritance.” So many teenagers fall prey to the lie of instant gratification and make poor decisions because of impatience. I pray that my girls would remember that they have a much great treasure than become Homecoming queen or dating the cutest boy.
- I pray that they would realize the power they have in them through Christ Jesus. They cannot accomplish the commands from the Bible in their own strength. They need to rely on God to work in them what I am teaching them.
- I pray that they would remember the Gospel and allow it to penetrate every aspect of their life. I pray that the life, death, resurrection, and future return of Christ would determine how they study, who they befriend, who they date, what they decide about the future, how they treat their family, how they regard the church, and every other facet of their life. Because my hope for them is not just to “be good,” but to have a growing, impactful relationship with Christ. It’s not that they would listen to me and think I’m a great teacher, but that God would give them a hunger and understand of Scripture to the point that they no longer need me.
I cannot imagine how, through Paul’s powerful prayer in a prison, God strengthened the believers in Ephesus. I hope that God works through my prayer to build up my girls, though I’m a hundred miles away.