I’m sitting with a blanket draped over my head as my daughter faces me and holds both my hands. She is reciting some loosely thrown-together sentences, occasionally throwing in the word love, and finally she ends with, “I do.”
We’re playing “married.” As in, “Daddy, do you want to play married with me?”
She’s two. Stop the ride; I need to get off.
We’ve been to one real-life wedding, she’s seen Cinderella celebrate her wedding about four hundred times, and she requests to look at our wedding photos and to see her mommy’s “princess dress” regularly. And sometimes she’ll hug my wife and me both and say, “We are married!” Those are the only counts of nuptial exposure I can think of, but apparently it’s enough.
I’ve always been told that little girls start dreaming of their weddings from a very early age. They begin planning and practicing. I had no idea that it began before they stopped wearing diapers.
So what’s a daddy to do? The only thing a daddy can do, right? Pretend it’s not happening. Head in the sand, hoping that tactic will prevent, or at least delay, the inevitable.
But it won’t. I’ve got a big part to play in all of this, and I don’t want to waste my opportunity. More than just through the way I live my life, I can influence the way my daughter thinks about the man she is going to marry through the way I pray for her—and for him. We pray over our own children, absolutely. But someday we’re probably going to have children-in-law. Who’s praying over them? We hope their own parents are, but we certainly don’t know at this juncture whether that’s the case.
I remember my mother kneeling by the bedside, praying over me, praying over my brother. She also often prayed for our future spouses. Out loud, right in front of us. From an early age, I was conscious of the idea that I would one day marry a godly person.
Lately I’ve added that tactic to my prayer life as well: “God, maybe we’ve already met the person Lucy will marry. Maybe we haven’t. Maybe his parents love you. Maybe they don’t know you. Maybe there’s a whole community of faith speaking his name to you often. Maybe this is the only intercession you hear. We ask that you guide this person, make him wise and godly. May he see and experience you and know your love and your presence even now. May he acknowledge you and grow in you. May he know love through you, through his parents, and through his community so that he can one day show that same godly love to my daughter.”
I remember my mother kneeling by the bedside, praying over me, praying over my brother. She also often prayed for our future spouses. Out loud, right in front of us.
This intercession lets my daughter know that I care deeply about her life far beyond today. Whom she marries is important to me now. She knows my love through my prayers for her future. This intercession also serves, as all intercession does, in co-laboring with God, working with God to “determine the outcome of events,” as Richard Foster puts it in his chapter on prayer in Celebration of Discipline (1978).
My little girl practices marrying her daddy. I try to be a man of God for her. One day she will walk down the aisle for real, and I will rest in the knowledge that I did what I could, starting when she was only two years old, to see that it would one day be a man of God wearing that other ring.