Help For a Rebellious Child

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Dear Mentor,


I have a rebellious pre-teen. We know that he is already experimenting with substances that are illegal for his age. His future scares me. I have tried everything and am constantly begging God to grab his attention. I need some hope!


                                               Signed, Scared Hopeless


Dear Scared Hopeless,


There is much hope in your situation, but it may not be in the direction you had previously thought.


With fear and trembling, let’s look together at Deuteronomy 5:8-10: “You shall not make for yourself an idol…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”


I don’t pretend to understand the mysteries of this verse and full dynamics of its implications to those of us no longer under the Law. Yet, there is a spiritual principle hidden here.


The authority of our lives is passed to our children.


  • If I maintain the right to hold a grudge, my children will probably be unforgiving.


  • If I excuse my impatience as unimportant and “just me”, my children will probably be easily frustrated or irritable.


  • If I pride myself for speaking my mind, my children be probably have little self-control.


We beg the Lord to change our children, without realizing that the root often lies within our hearts.


When we see faults within our children, we should turn to ask the Father, “Where is a similar characteristic within me?”


In your case, I would go before the Father asking Him for any source of rebellion or hidden idolatry within you.


“Could it be that you are asking the Lord to change his or her heart without being willing for Him to transform your own? Often the Lord allows us to recognize deep needs in our loved ones so that He can first begin His work within us.” (Chapter 7, Hungry For More: Feasting through the Word


The good news is that authority works both ways. Once we grant the Father authority to melt the sin within us, His authority is loosed within the lives of those whom we influence as well.


Stop begging the Lord to intervene within your son’s life. Instead, ask Him to reveal any rebellion you may be harboring within your own life. As He grants insight, submit to Him your own heart and find He will work within the both of you at the same time. Once you are properly submitted to Him, you will find the simplest prayer for your son works wonders. This is where the “effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).


As I pray for you, I’m asking the Lord to reveal rebellion within me. I want to have authority in my prayers for you.


Grace and peace, Your Mentor