October 31, 1996 (Halloween), two days after his birth, I drove him and his mother home from the hospital. During that drive I prayed. And I prayed what I thought to be the most profound prayer ever prayed by a new father. I prayed, God, don’t let me get in an accident and kill him on our way home! I don’t know how many times I prayed that prayer during the 15 minute drive from the hospital to our home, but it is a short prayer and I am sure I prayed it hundreds of times before pulling into the driveway while the neighborhood was filling with costumed children out trick or treating.
Married for almost 8 years, I barely knew how to be a husband (still…?) much less a dad, and the profundity of my prayer life continued. When he would be awake at night my prayer was, Lord, help him fall asleep already! I can’t keep my eyes open any longer! Then, after he fell asleep and I would be gently – oh so gently – placing him into his crib my prayers would deepen further into, Ok God, I putting him down now, keep him sleeping…
And, when his eyes would sometimes open after I laid him down I would have two very different, almost conflicting 3:00am thoughts/prayers that went something like this, God, I love this kid! God, do you hate me?!?!
As exhausting as those first years were, especially as sister and brother came along, they didn’t last long. And as Michael grew and developed, so did I. I grew up as a dad. Well, somewhat anyway. What I do know is this, my prayers grew. My prayers grew with him.
I prayed for his first day of school. I prayed for tests. I prayed for him when he got injured. I prayed for forgiveness when I blew it. I prayed he would forgive me when I blew it. I prayed for his friends. I prayed as the years went by.
My prayers grew from a starting place of praying for the immediacy of having his needs met (food, sleep, safety, love & shelter) in order that I might have some short term peace, to a place of learning to pray more deeply, for things of more significance and for the longview of his life.
My prayers grew in substance. Today Michael is an amazing young man enrolled as a freshman in college and my prayers for him are much different. I do pray for the immediate things still – that he would study hard, learn well, make incredible friends, be exposed to all sorts of great challenges that shape him, etc… But more than that, I pray for longterm fruit of the spirit in his life, for him to give himself to something significant, life giving and helps better the world God so loves. I pray for lasting joy that overcomes in hardship and trial. I pray that he would live in, and be a sharer, of the Shalom of God.
My prayers, they grew with him.