My wife and I read a prayer in a devotional one morning that asked God’s assistance in the lives of children in “a crooked and untoward generation.” Now, when you see the phrase “untoward generation” you immediately know this wasn’t written yesterday. But you also no doubt know that today’s generation is as “crooked and untoward” as any in history, including the one in the 1600s when Jeremy Taylor penned the prayer.
What also hasn’t changed much in the last 600 years is the needs of our children. Taylor, an English cleric known for his poetic writing style, asks God to give children “healthful bodies, understanding souls, and sanctified spirits, that they may be thy servants and thy children all their days.”
Then he prays for their protection, which is where you see this literary gem: “So order the accidents of their lives, that by good education, careful tutors, holy examples, innocent company, prudent counsel, and thy restraining grace, their duty to thee may be secured in the midst of a crooked and untoward generation.”
The accidents of their lives. Yep, our children will make mistakes and poor choices. We want those “accidents” to lead them somewhere holy. Good education. Yep, want them to learn the right stuff. Careful tutors, holy examples, innocent company, prudent counsel. Yep, we want some good influences around them. And, of course, restraining grace. Yep, we want God’s grace to shower them.
We immediately prayed this for our children, who are grown, but also for our grandchildren. Later, upon reflection, I prayed it for myself.
Note: If you want more from Jeremy Taylor, there’s plenty on the internet. That prayer is in several compilation books, including The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremey Taylor, Volume III. If you’re a Kindle type of person, you can pick up several of Taylor’s books for as little as 99 cents.