Praying Over Infants and Children: Matthew 19:13-15
“13) Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14) But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15) After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭13‬-‭15‬
These verses have inspired many paintings of Jesus taking time to pray for children. It is common in many 3rd world countries for parents to bring their children for prayer and for a blessing. Often mothers form long lines just to get their infants blessed. They are always at the front of the ministry line following a message.
I can understand the disciples becoming annoyed. From outward appearance, the children are to young to listen to a message, respond in personal faith or even remember the occasion. But the mothers and parents want their children to be blessed by spiritual leaders. It is a spontaneous ritual in may countries around the world and takes significant time.
Frequently, it distracts from those seeking salvation or ministry for what appears to be more urgent needs. But Jesus took time to lay hands on each of these children and pray over them. He made it a priority.
There were plenty of courses in Bible College for children’s ministry, but non touched on this spontaneous phenomenon. I never received training on “How to pray over children” or “How to bless children” and yet this occupies significant time after events in many countries around the world.
I confess, it remains a mystery to me and doesn’t fit into my “western model of ministry.” We must not equate this ritual with salvation for the children, but it is every bit as important as Hannah dedicating young Samual to the Lord in 1 Samual 1-2.
So what can be gleaned from this story in Matthew 19:13-15 and Jesus praying over infants and children. Let’s look at a few significant biblical principles that may be anchored in this text.
First, children are important to God. Jesus took time to pray over and bless children. Never minimize the value of infants and children. Jesus welcomed them!
Second, the desire of parents to dedicate their children to Jesus is important. It points the whole family in a godward direction.
Third, though the intellect of the child might not be impacted, these blessings minister to the spirit of the child. It is like reading Scripture or playing godly music to a child when still in the womb. I cannot explain it, but this has a significant developmental impact on the child.
Forth, prayer and blessings are powerful. James 5:16 says; “… the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Prayer is not an exercise in futility. Both prayer and blessings have an impact in the spiritual realm. Notice that the text specifically said that Jesus laid His hands on them. I think parents and grand parents should do this as often as possible for their children.
Fifth, Scripture teaches that the spirit of babes can be tuned into the spiritual realm at a very young age. (Read Psalm 8:2, Matthew 11:25, Mathew 21:16 and Luke 1:44.) This might explain why many cults, isms, and even the occult features elaborate rituals and ceremonies over infants and children. For some reason, western evangelical Christians are very negligent and undiscerning in this area.
Sixth, praying over infants and children provides an opportunity to cut off the iniquities of forefathers and dedicate them to godly kingdom influences. I consciously include this in my praying over children in predominately pagan, idolatry saturated or spiritistic countries like Haiti or India. I now pray a hedge of protection over infants and children from demonic activity and influences in the name and blood of Jesus Christ.
Seventh, this may serve as an opportunity to bless and speak a prophetic over the infant as exemplified by Simon in Luke 2:25-33. I only do this if the Holy Spirit prompts me.
Finally, this is an opportunity to consciously pray for their salvation and walk with God. I ask the Spirit of God to lead the into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as early as possible and guide them into fruitful Christian living.
I am sure there are more insights for praying over infants and children. If God has given you special illumination in this area, please include it in a comment. I am still learning related to this subject.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global