“We’re praying that mom gets her baby back!”
My friend was told these words one Sunday morning when a man she knew approached her at church soon after she began fostering a baby.
Moments later, someone else stopped her in the halls at church to offer this:
“We’re praying that you get to adopt him.”
Two people – both godly, Spirit-filled, praying believers – asking God for two completely different outcomes for this baby. My friend didn’t know what to make of that. It was too early in the case to know whether reunification would be a good thing, and her heart was already aching with a hopeful willingness to adopt this child. She lived in that tension every single day and was doing her best to stay focused on the serving she’d been called to for that present time. And while my friend clung to the Lord in prayer throughout, she was honest about it being a very difficult tension to pray through – to pray from – when you’re the one in it.
I wasn’t yet a foster parent, but I learned much from her experience. She taught me that a foster parent constantly has need for prayer but also faces many challenges in knowing what to pray for. Fostering will bring you to your knees and reveal your desperation for Jesus. But discerning the best way for Him to intervene is something we’re not always positioned to do. As foster parents, we’re often limited in what we know about the case and aren’t always given timely updates on the progress a parent is making (or not making) on their steps toward reunification. Not being told what’s going on frustrates our inclinations to identify the best possible outcome for a child and boldly ask God for it. We want our prayers to be specific, but sometimes our limited knowledge, combined with the intensity of our emotions, prevents us from knowing how to pray as precisely as we’d like. Sometimes our feelings inhibit our ability to even find words.
Though it might be awkward responding to comments like the ones my friend received that day at church, it still comforts the soul of the foster parent to know that God is actively leading others to pray for particular things. It’s a relief knowing someone has conviction to petition for something specific, especially when we have none, and we’re encouraged and amazed to see the Lord drawing His children into the story of the ones we’re fostering. Knowing there’s a family battling for them in the realms of what is spiritual and unseen is good for our hearts.
Having that support is a BIG DEAL to foster parents.
The Power of Prayer in the World of Foster Care
It’s incredible watching God’s plans unfold in the lives of foster children through the prayers of His people. I’ve come to believe that one of the most significant benefits of Christian families stepping into fostering is the place they have to pray for foster children and connect them to the Body of Christ who will also pray. These children may never have come into contact with a believer who has personally prayed for them, and we don’t want to take lightly the responsibility and privilege to surround these hurting ones in prayer and be a part of the story of healing, hope, and redemption we believe God is writing on their lives.
It may be difficult for a foster parent to know how to pray, but it’s easier for the people around them – the ones who aren’t as emotionally-close to the situation. Discovering ways to be faithful in that prayer can actually be quite simple.
Another fostering friend of mine set aside 40 days to pray for the judge who rules over most of our county’s CPS cases. 40 days of praying wisdom over the difficult decisions this judge has to make on behalf of foster kids and their families. Inspired by her commitment to focused prayer, I set a reminder on my phone every Thursday morning to pray for that judge (since that’s the day of the week most of these cases here go to court). Each week of this past year, I’ve been prompted to pray over her decisions in the cases she’ll hear as well as for the foster children/parents I personally know. When I babysit a friend’s foster child or hold one while working in the church nursery, I take time to pray over that child. We don’t know what their future holds, but it’s an honor to pray for them during the time we’re blessed to be near them. Who knows how God might work in their lives later on in answer to our right-now prayers?
Imagine the impact we could have – through a “broken” foster care system – if entire church communities committed to faithfully petition God to move on behalf of suffering children and families? What if we had a passion to insert ourselves into their stories on a spiritual level, going to God in intercession for the needs of foster children? His power always works through messed up people and systems, and an impaired foster care system is no exception.
As you prepare your heart to foster, you need to understand that part of your role includes inviting and ushering others into this kind of praying. When you become a foster parent, you are automatically an advocate regardless of whether or not you want to be. People will be watching what you’re doing in service to these children, and you’ll have the privilege of connecting those watching or walking alongside you to needs they otherwise might not know if it weren’t for knowing you. Look for ways to share that vision of the power of prayer in foster care. As you see God working, share those stories and encourage others to join in praying. Your foster kids will need that army of prayer support, and so will you.
If you’re interested in knowing more about praying for foster care needs, check out this prayer guide published by The Cry of the Orphan.
Join me Thursday as we conclude this series on Preparing Your Heart to Foster with a look at this idea of guarding your heart as a foster parent.