Georgene Rice interviews Lillian Penner, author of “Grandparenting with a Purpose”. They discuss effective ways to pray for your grandchildren and engage with young people in your life. Lillian says God gives grandparents a sacred trust.
Georgene: This is such an important topic because young people today need to be grounded to a world of stability and grandparents are in a perfect position to play a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren. What inspired you to take this subject seriously and to write about it?
Lillian: I have three sons and nine grandchildren. I would pray for each of them but got to thinking there has got to be more to it than that. I was convicted to read a lot about praying and grandparenting and really got convicted about my praying, specifically for my grandchildren. It opened up a new world for me. It was exciting. I learned to pray scripture for them and I was praying intentionally for them. It really had purpose to it. God laid it on my heart to share this with other grandparents because we live in such a world of turmoil and spiritual depravity. The children really need a lot of prayer to give them a shield of protection.
Georgene: One of the things that struck me about the book was the bond between you and your grandchildren because of your intentional praying.
Lillian: I’ve moved up to Portland now so we’re close to some of our grandchildren, but are still a long distance from others. This helped me to be more aware in connecting with them. When grandparenting long distance you feel helpless because there isn’t a lot you can do, but we can always pray. Sometimes our physical health can limit us or grandchildren can be busy with their activities so there isn’t much time we can put into their lives, but we can always pray.
Georgene: You write about the strategic importance of grandparents, saying, “It is urgent that we stand in the gap to pray for the spiritual, emotional, and physical protection of our grandchildren and their parents, so they do not become victims of our culture.” This role grandparents play is strategic to the kingdom of God.
Lillian: We can do so much for them, leaving them a legacy of stability. We’ve formed grandparent prayer groups that we call GAP (Grandparents At Prayer). It is such a blessing to pray with other grandparents about the needs of our grandchildren. I’d encourage this because there is strength in praying together.
Georgene: A lot has been said about the generation gap that has widened in our culture today. For many grandparents, it’s difficult for them to feel they can relate to their grandchildren or that there is any usefulness or purpose they can play in their family role. You believe it is more important now than ever before.
Lillian: A lot of grandparents are afraid of the computer, Facebook, and cell phones. But, if we want to connect with our grandchildren we need to take part in those things.
Georgene: How did your intentional prayers for your grandchildren develop?
Lillian: In Romans 8:26 it says God makes intercession for us when we don’t know how to pray. As grandparents we often don’t know how to pray for our grandchildren, especially when they live out of town or we aren’t around them much. I am so grateful for that. I can just say, “God you know my grandchildren’s specific needs and what Your plans are for them. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will make intercession for me.” Another thing to keep in mind is that grandparents often want to make everything good for their grandchildren. But, Scripture tells us that we grow through difficult situations, so we need to allow them to grow in their spiritual lives. We shouldn’t bail them out of all their difficulties especially when they get to be teenagers and young adult grandchildren.
Georgene: You have the same intention as grandparents that you had as parents, that they grow to be mature followers of Christ, able to manage life.
Lillian: Vacations and birthday and Christmas gifts are all just temporary. What really lasts are our prayers.
Georgene: Your book gives samples of prayers to pray for grandchildren. It is also designed to provide practical ways for grandparents to engage the younger generation. What is important for a grandparent to pray for and about? How should they approach the throne of grace?
Lillian: One of the things that comes to mind is praying for protection and it is not always just physical protection. We need to pray for their emotional protection, their friends, and their spiritual protection, the deceptions of the world.
Georgene: Your prayer has facilitated your communication and relationship with your grandchildren. How do you communicate what you are doing on their behalf?
Lillian: Over the years we’ve sent notes, emails, or text messages to stay in touch. We just need to let them know that we are there for them, that we love them and are praying for them. Often I’d ask the older grandchildren “How would you like grandpa and I to pray for you now? What is going on in your life that we can pray for?” For the younger ones, we’d ask their parents what they’d like us to pray for.
Georgene: What is the most important thing for a grandparent to convey to their grandchildren.
Lillian: That God loves them, that the most fulfilling thing in their life will be to walk with the Lord and that He loves them.
There are two ways that I feel grandparents can really affect their grandchildren. One is by prayer and the other is by example—by modeling a Godly life. It is important to leave that legacy.
Georgene: One of the gifts that a grandparent can bring is the gift of time, where a parent may be in the throws of raising their children. To make the make the most of that time is a calling and a challenge to grandparents. You make a distinction between being busy and being fruitful.
Lillian: It’s a challenge sometimes because you fill your own life up with things. It doesn’t just happen. You have to plan time with them. We can fill our lives with all kinds of things but are we fruitful with what we are doing with our lives? We sow the seeds of modeling and of prayer. The seed has to be watered with a continual connection. The harvest comes later.
Georgene: I am so grateful for the work that you are doing to allow grandparents to see their strategic importance. There is a desperate need for the kind of resolve of a generation of people who have lived and seen the faithfulness of God to pray for this young generation and to pass along the message that He can be trusted over the course of a lifetime.
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