Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
On Monday, we prayed for the church’s ministry to children, but the primary responsibility for the raising of children is given to parents so today we want to pray for them. Paul’s commands here have to do with how parents instruct and discipline their children. He says not to provoke them to anger, or discourage them with “unnecessary rules and regulations and endless petty correction” (Francis Foulkes). Instead, they are to bring the children up with their mind on the Lord. The word translated “bring up” is the same one translated as “nourishes” in Ephesians 5:29. It speaks to the nurturing of “the body, mind and soul” (Foulkes). Parents are to nourish and nurture their children in order that they come to know the Lord. As Foulkes writes,
The discipline and instruction of the Lord is that which the Lord is able to bring into the life of a child if parents do their work of teaching and training in the word of the Lord. This is the highest duty of Christian parents. … ‘parents should care more for the loyalty of their children to Christ than for anything besides, more for this than for their health, their intellectual vigour and brilliance, their material prosperity, their social position, their exemption from great sorrows and great misfortunes.’
Pray that parents at our church would not discourage their children. Pray that they would have patience and understanding, and that they would nurture and nourish them with the word of God. Pray that their children knowing Christ would be the highest goal of all our parents. Pray that the rest of us would come alongside to encourage and help discouraged and exasperated parents when necessary. Pray that just as our marriages would be known for their mutual love and respect, that our families would be known for their love, care, and instruction of their children.