I take no credit for it. It was something I just fell into.
It came about because we didn’t have enough money for a second car, and I had to take the city bus to work. Later, my two daughters had to take the same city bus to junior high, and then high school. The problem was that the nearest bus stop was almost a mile away –- and we had to leave the house at ten to seven every morning, and walk that long hurried mile in order to catch the bus at five after seven.
One morning, shortly after I began this routine with my oldest daughter, I decided to say a prayer for her, out loud. There were no other people around that early in the morning to overhear.
My daughters complained that, over the years, this prayer kept getting longer –- until it took up almost the entire walk to the bus stop.
That is an exaggeration; but the prayer did get longer as I thought through what I should pray. I learned early on that I should pray not just that my daughters would be blessed, but that they would be a blessing –- a positive influence in helping to extend God’s kingdom.
Although it changed somewhat over the years, and although I continually added new parts for whatever test or new situation the girls would be facing that day, usually the prayer went something like this:
Father, thank you for my daughter, for her intelligence, hard work, good health, grace and beauty.
Thank you that she can go to school. I pray that you will be with her today, and pour out your blessing on her. Please fill her with your Holy Spirit. Help her to know you and trust you, and to show your love and truth to other people. Please fill her life with love, joy, peace, hope and purpose.
Please give her grace to be honest and truthful, loving and kind and wise, faithful to you and righteous. May you be pleased with the way she lives. Please keep her safe. Please protect her body, soul, mind and spirit.
Please bless and guide all of her relationships. May she be a blessing to others, and may others be a blessing to her.
Please bless her school work. Help her to care, work hard, think clearly, learn, understand and remember. Amen.
My daughters did not always appreciate these prayers. I am sure that the prayers could have been improved. And there were times I was sure they were not being answered. But I stuck with them. They never became a meaningless ritual.
In fact, the more I prayed them, the more fervent they became. We eventually got a second car, but I continued to pray as we drove to school. I also said other prayers for my daughters in my private morning devotions, at the end of the day and before they went to church or youth group.
As I look back, I now realize those prayers were the most important thing I could have done for my daughters.