Children have a lot to do this time of year. And parents are their main supporters. But should mom and dad ask for a little help from above? This week's clergy offer parents some insight into praying for success.
Pastor Bob Snider, campus pastor, Island Christian Church, Holtsville:
As a father of four, I do believe we should pray for our kids' success, but would expand the answer to define what we mean by success.
We're not told much about Jesus' childhood. There is one passage when he was 12 that says Jesus increased in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man. There are four areas mentioned here: Wisdom is mental, stature is physical, favor with God is spiritual and favor with man is social. We should take guidance from this and pray that our children succeed in all those areas, not just that they succeed with their grades and on the athletic field or court.
How do we define success? I would refer to the parable of talents (Matthew 25:14-30). A man was going on a journey, and to each of his servants he gave talents (money). The first was given five, the second two and the third one. When he returned, he checked with each to see what he had done with the talents. The first two doubled their talents. But the third put his away for safekeeping and is condemned for his inactivity.
We all should consider whether we used and invested our faith-given talents, no matter what they are. My greatest desire for my children is that they are greeted into heaven and told, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
For those parents who may be unsure how to begin, I'd tell them to pray both with your children and for your children. It could be something as simple as "Lord, please allow my children to follow your lead in all that they do today."
Father Thomas A. Cardone, S.M., chaplain, Kellenberg Memorial High School, Uniondale:
The most important thing a parent can do is to pray with the child and encourage him or her to give 100 percent. In the Gospels, Jesus makes it very clear that God wants all of each of us, the total person.
The most important thing parents can do is to not just wish for straight A's, because not every student is an honor student. Parents need to encourage their son or daughter to do the best he or she can in the classroom, on the athletic field or in the many activities children have available to them today.
We pray before every class, every game and any significant moment with the kids. Basically, God wants what you can do, not what you can't do. Another thing I say is that we don't pray to be average. We don't pray to be mediocre. We pray that we use our God-given talents to the fullest.
When we see God at the end of time, he won't ask for our SAT score or our grade-point average. He will ask if we were faithful and did we give our all, just as Jesus did.
If you're unsure how to start praying, read the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and reflect on the Lord's Prayer, which everyone knows. Encourage your child to read it with you and reflect on it with you. This will help give you a focus for the new school year.
Rabbi Albert J. Lowenberg, rabbi emeritus, Temple Emanu-El, East Meadow:
It doesn't hurt that parents pray that their children do well in school. But God helps those who help themselves. Parents praying that their children do well is well and good, as long as they also talk with their children, explaining the value of study as well as prayer.
Praying is a double-edged sword. If we ask God for what we want and don't get it, is the answer no. If we ask God for good grades for our children and the child doesn't do well in school, is it God's fault or the child's?
What parents should do is encourage their children in terms of study, teach them the value of education, of being informed and of being educated individuals. Prayer has its place, but study and support will go a lot further than prayer alone.
It is always good to pray, but don't ask God to do something for us that we ourselves are equipped to do. If you want help for your child, study with the child. Get the child a tutor. Sit with them and encourage them to study and learn. Encourage them to be the best they can be. Prayer should be supported with action.