Do You Know What You're Asking {Wednesday Wisdom Tip}


Don't make the mistake of equating what they do to how you did as their mom.

“You don’t know what you’re asking.”

Have you ever wanted to say this to your child when the request they have is so big it teeters on crazy?

Jesus didn’t just think these words when the mom of James and John came to Him with her enormous request. He came right out and said it to her.

After sharing with His disciples that He would soon be killed, this mom decides to change the subject by asking Jesus for a favor:

“What do you want?” Jesus asked.

She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.” (Matthew 20:21 MSG)

Wow! That is one bold mom. She just asked Jesus to make her sons His favorites!

I have definitely been that bold, even begging mom, asking Jesus “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” in lives of my kids just like Ephesians 3:20 says.

But today, my prayers for my kids are challenged by this passage. I am stirred by the question Jesus poses to James and John’s mom. Not only do I hear Him asking “What do You want?”, but an even deeper question:”Why do you want that?”

When I am praying, asking God for great things in the lives of my children, what is my motive for wanting what I want for them?

My reflection takes me to one conclusion:

This mom and I might have something in common.

My requests are often positioned from pride.

I want my kids to succeed, to do great things in life, because I believe who they are and what they do is a reflection on me. I’ve made that terrible mistake of equating what they do to how I did as their mom.

My point today is not to encourage us to stop praying powerful prayers over our kids. They need us. It’s part of what we do as moms and as investors in the lives of the young people we influence.

But as we are praying bold, beautiful prayers, let’s keep a pulse on our hearts’ motives.

May we believe for God’s best in and for our kids for the sake of His kingdom and not for the glory of our own.



  1. Oh so many times I have felt what decisions my kids make, especially the older child, is such a reflection of my mothering skills! It is a part of being hard on ourselves as we see our kids as representatives of us. Well at least I did. (I wonder if Jesus felt his disciples were a representation of Him when He gave them power to heal others and spread the word?) However, I had to learn, we can teach our kids the hest way to live (God’s way) but in the end, whatever decision they make, is not a reflection of my mothering skills. We all have free will and I believe I taught them what I could. I advise them to keep close to God and go to Him before making a decision. Whatever they decide, is something they will have to live with the consequences of. So I pray for protection over them, that they walk that narrow path, and that God’s will be done in their lives.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Amen and Amen, Shasta!

      We can also pray that the Word of God we have hidden in their heart will come forth and HIS WORD will be their teacher. Like we talked about last week in our Wednesday Wisdom Tip – that He will bring the understanding and His word will be their teacher!

  2. Cathi Nichols says:

    Today I struggle with this question. My daughter doesn’t feel challenged in school and I have asked so many times for extra work or for a teacher to point her in a direction to increase her desire to do well in school. I haven’t been happy with the responses I’ve gotten this year. She took a test to see if they could move her up to a higher science class, she never does well on standardized testing of any kind so there I sat disappointed when I was told she hadn’t done well. Feeling like the teachers would rather make excuses than work with my daughter. Part of my frustration stems from knowing that she spends all of her classes with a disruptive student who probably doesn’t help the situation and who seemingly goes out of their way to make her miserable. My motivation is two-fold to buy my child some peace and to give her the opportunity to learn yet sometimes I feel like I am asking too much for her. Maybe it’s time I just give it to God because right now all I feel is frustration and and helplessness.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      I hear your heart for your girl, Cathi!

      I also know that God’s heart for your girl is for her to reach the fullest potential He has placed in her.

      Take that step. Begin, each and every day, to set her before God, asking Him to open the doors He knows is best for her. Look for those opportunities and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, walk through them. Maybe these closed doors are His hand of protection in her life.

  3. Thank you for these pointed words of wisdom. Sometimes I think having older including adult kids is more of a challenge that when they were young. Merry Christmas, Linda

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      I absolutely couldn’t agree with you more, Linda!

  4. Oh how I needed to this today. I want what I want for my son, not what’s best for him, or what God wants. Maybe, just maybe God is teaching us both thru this!

  5. Thanks for the encouraging words that I needed to be reminded of so desperatly today. May God be glorified in our children’s lives no matter how big or how small by human standards…and may my motivies and heart be pure when I come before His thone of grace!

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