A Prayer for Fathers Who Missed the Mark

A Prayer for Fathers Who Missed the Mark
By Lynette Kittle

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” – Colossians 3:21

Maybe you have a father who failed you? One who let you down wasn’t around or chased you away. Because God is our Father, He takes fatherhood seriously. It’s the role He created and lives out as our heavenly Father. Sadly, there are an estimated 24.7 million children under the age of 18 living without a father at home.

There are a variety of reasons for this national fatherlessness. Culture isn’t offering many incentives for men to step up to be fathers, instead finding ways to discourage, displace, and devalue a father’s role in a child’s life. Sadly, some fathers walk away and turn their back on their kids, thinking they don’t matter or will never make a difference in their children’s lives. Some children grow up without a father because their mothers have shut them out of their kids’ lives. There are also women choosing single parenting over marriage by having babies via donors, and others creating homes with two moms. God doesn’t take this void lightly but fills it, caring deeply for the fatherless and encouraging them to look to Him as their Father to fulfill this role. As Psalm 68:5 describes, He becomes a Father to the fatherless.

Failing Fathers
Adult children often struggle with unforgiveness, anger, and disappointment towards imperfect fathers, along with severe abandonment issues, abuse, and absentee fathers. Likewise, grown individuals often struggle to move past their dad’s failures, weaknesses, and life choices that deeply affected and wounded them growing up. Imperfections range from a father who didn’t show affection or offer verbal affirmation to a dad who missed his kids’ major life events like sporting events, graduations, and much more. Yet Matthew 6:14 encourages, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, Your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Fathers Afraid to Come Back
Television shows like “Long Lost Family” work to reunite estranged family members and reveal stories of fathers who are reluctant to reach out to their families, bound by shame and regret for their actions. As a result, many believe they don’t deserve a second chance or will be rejected if they try to reconnect. Although their lack of effort in contacting and restoring relationships is often seen as not caring about their families, the opposite is usually true. Many care very deeply.

Focus on the Family’s Director of Family Formation Studies, Glenn Stanton, explains, “It’s quite likely your father is aware of how he’s hurt you over the years. However, it’s likely he doesn’t know how to face it with you.” As adult children, Stanton encourages sons and daughters to bring things up, not as accusations but as issues to discuss and forgive. “It will be something he will likely appreciate, and deeply so. He will also respect your strength and leadership in bringing it to the surface.” Doing so, Stanton believes, will do a great deal in strengthening your relationship with your father and could lead to other healing conversations.

Let’s pray:

Dear Father,
Millions of adult children have grown up fatherless, meaning millions of men have also failed as fathers. Lord, so many fall short of Your plan for fathers to walk in Your ways and teach their children to love You. Help me, Father, to forgive my father for his failures and shortcomings and how he hurt and disappointed me. I also ask You to help him to receive forgiveness for his falling short in my life. Soften his heart, Lord, to turn towards you and receive forgiveness.

Let us both walk in the forgiveness You give to us. Help me forgive him for his failures in my life, and help my father to find forgiveness for how he failed me. Pour out your love over us, O Lord, to bring healing and reconciliation into our relationship. Help me to recover from the wounds of the past and to be willing to open my heart to forgive my dad for the past. Strengthen both of us to move forward to restore our broken relationship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Daily Prayer – A Prayer to Refocus Your Thoughts

A Prayer to Refocus Your Thoughts
By Jessica Van Roekel

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” –  Philippians 4:8

Have you ever walked into a room and felt you didn’t belong? I entered a meeting the other day, and I felt nobody wanted me there. Frowns and furrowed brows graced their faces. It spiraled me into a series of negative thoughts. I thought I wasn’t good enough, likable, or worthy of acknowledgment. I struggled to bring my attention to the purpose of the meeting because I felt rejected. Perceived rejection is assuming rejection before it has happened. I’m a genius at pre-rejecting myself on someone else’s behalf. I interpret the squint of the eyes as disapproval and the purse of the lips as annoyance toward me. I assume I’m already rejected to protect myself, but this behavior leads me into a cycle of being rejected and rejecting other people. I became aware of this tendency when the Lord revealed how the fear of rejection prevented me from walking in the ways he had for me.

God longs for us to grow in kindness and mercy. He wants us to know who we are in Christ, which is chosen, approved, desired, and discipled. Yet, when we get stuck in patterns of pre-rejection, we wrestle with these. We assume the worst about ourselves and others. Our focus drills inward until we see ourselves through a rejected lens. This rejected lens prevents us from seeing someone else’s struggles and worries. It interferes with compassion toward others. It takes us down a path of assumptions, leading to misunderstandings and broken relationships.

While many of us have external struggles with home, family, work, and finances, we also deal with internal battles. Our mind is one of the greatest places of battle, where external battles are won or lost. Pre-rejection steals our peace and promotes anxious thoughts, influencing our actions and attitudes. It’s amazing how I feed rejection when I assume I’ve been rejected. When I start from a place of assuming rejection, it impacts potential new relationships. If I’m closed off and self-protecting, it makes me seem cold and unfriendly. This is not who I am, but when I’m ruled by fear, it’s what I display. I’ve learned the secret to overcoming this tendency lies in my thoughts.

Romans 12:2 tells us to “be transformed by the renewal” of our minds, and pre-rejecting ourselves on behalf of someone else assumes the worst possible outcome. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians to guard their hearts. Guarding our hearts promotes peace within ourselves and our relationships, but we must work at it. Our minds naturally run along negative tracks, but we can retrain our thoughts. Imagine what would happen if we concentrated on whatever is good, and when we walk into a room, we think about what is honorable. Rejecting yourself because you’re afraid someone might reject you doesn’t honor you or the other person.

One of the ways to overcome this tendency is to look for the good in others. I realized when I assume someone has rejected me, I’m projecting my fear of rejection onto them. They might be frowning in my direction, not because of me, but because of something in their life. Instead of responding with compassion and outward focus, we react with self-protection and self-focus. I still walk into meetings with the “Will they like me?” game playing in my head. But I’m learning to refocus my thoughts on myself and asking the Lord, “How can I show them you?” It starts in our minds and then translates into actions.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father,
Thank you that you give us all the tools we need to live this life for you. Forgive us when we forget to use them and let our thoughts scatter to unhealthy and life-stealing pathways. We want to focus on you. You are honorable, lovely, true, commendable, just, and excellent, and when we think about you in these terms, you help us think about others in them too. Help us refocus our thoughts today. In Jesus’ name, Amen