and it will be given to you,” said Jesus in Matthew 7:7
(ESV). “Seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to
you.” In my younger days, I assumed this meant that God was like Santa
Claus. I asked, He delivered.
Later I learned differently. “Prayer is request,” wrote C.S.
Lewis. “The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that
it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the
requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant
and sometimes refuse them.” In both cases, whether the answer is yes
or no, I’ve found prayer to be essential throughout my homeschooling
We need prayer, for example, to help us raise our children. Now that my kids
are adults, we talk freely about Michael’s and my parenting. Sometimes
they tell us that we were the best mom and dad in the world. I’ve also
heard about our mistakes. One of our children recently confided
disappointment in my inept handling of a situation that I should have
addressed differently, and didn’t.
Yes, I failed to raise my children as well as I’d hoped. But I know my
parenting would have been much more deficient, had I not relied heavily on
almost daily prayer. I asked God to guide me, give me wisdom, and enable me
to love and serve my children. In spite of my many shortcomings, He answered
that plea for help.
We also need prayer to guide us in homeschooling. Even with the help of
friends, mentors, and experts, I look back on communication with God as my
greatest resource in helping me make the right decisions about schooling.
For example, my daughter Lisa once approached me, asking if she could design
her own curriculum for her eighth grade year. I told her I’d think and
pray about it. The next summer, when I wrote the book Real-Life
Homeschooling, I had a chance to interview “unschoolers” and
understand how their approach worked. Perfect timing, thanks to prayer. This
gave me the confidence to approve Lisa’s individualized plan for
In addition, we need prayer to give us the strength to face life’s
challenges. Several years ago, a neurologist incorrectly diagnosed me with
epilepsy. For two years I took increasingly high doses of drugs to control
seizures, which averaged two or three a week and left me exhausted. I
couldn’t think, carry on a conversation, write, or function more than
Through a bizarre set of circumstances, a friend steered me to a naturopath,
who helped me plan a new approach to treatment. A year later, my seizures
had decreased to one every couple of months. I got my energy and my life
back. I doubt that I would have found a solution, nor had the strength to
face the trial, without divine help.
Prayer should be an essential component in all of our lives, especially for
those of us who’ve committed to teaching our children at home. We
desperately need this communication with God to help us parent, homeschool,
and simply face the day-to-day commitments, sorrows, tragedies, and joys of
Though we may not approve of God’s answers, we can count on the fact
that they’re beneficial. As Jesus continued in Matthew 7: “If
you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how
much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask