a prayer for potty training

There is advice aplenty about potty training, but very little written about the spiritual challenges of potty training. Yes, you heard me right. The spiritual challenges of potty training. Anything that opens our hearts wide up to see the frustrations hidden beneath; the expectations for life to act according to our plans; the desire demand to be in control – well, this becomes ripe fodder for growth. Or repentance. Or sanctification. Or all of the above.

Maybe you approached potty training much differently from me (and I am sure some of you are out there!), but for me it’s been an exercise in surrender. Surrendering my expectations and realizing the limits of my control over my daughters. I cannot control when (or if) they will use the toilet. I can nudge them in the right direction; provide incentives to make it more attractive for the desired behavior; set up an environment that is conducive in pottying. Yet if she decides she isn’t ready – or if her physical development isn’t there yet – it just won’t happen.

There are spiritual analogies here as well. As I seek to nurture my daughters’ faith, it’s much the same way. I can nudge them in the right direction (towards faith and wisdom and away from unbelief and foolishness); provide incentives to make it more attractive for them to walk in the path of life; set up an environment that is conducive for faith. But at the end of the day, it is up to God and her whether she will take hold of this Life or not. And when. I can’t force her into a prayer of belief or into steps of faith that may be beyond her spiritual development.

How do I fill this gap between where I want my child to be (re: pottying and spiritual development) and where she is? Deal with my own heart, and P.R.A.Y.

So with this round of potty training, I was clued in a bit more to potential frustrations and disappointments and challenges, and I penned the following as we set out to “launch” potty training a few days ago. I humbly offer it to you if you, like me, need it.

Father, I ask that you’d give us discernment to know/evaluate whether L. and A. are ready, and to lovingly encourage them to do what we think they’re ready to do. If one of them isn’t, give us wisdom and restraint to back off if needed. Give us perseverance and endurance because even if it goes really well, it’s a process. Help me to expect the best but not force them into my will. Help me to know how to gently nudge them and when to step away to foster their independence.

Restrain my anger and frustration. Give me the long view, both for potty training and even more so for how You’re using this process to expose my own heart and make me more aware of my own need for grace. Give me wisdom to walk away and regroup when it’s overwhelming.

Above all else, let everything I do be done in love — in Christ’s love that dwells in me. Love that is patient, kind, not boastful or rude, doesn’t insist on its own way, isn’t irritable or resentful, bears all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13) I don’t have love on my own nor can I muster it up. I come to You needy of it, and confident that You delight to make your people loving.

When sin is revealed in my own heart, let me quickly repent and ask for forgiveness — not cover it up/try to hide it/make excuses. When the waywardness of my daughters’ hearts is revealed, let me be quick to show them the grace You shower upon me as well as any correction appropriate for the situation.

I do ask for minimal messes, but even more than that, I ask for longsuffering and the attitude of Christ when they happen. He who made himself nothing … taking the very nature of a servant … (Philippians 2). Do guard and protect us from causing any hurt in what could be trying days. And give us joy, laughter, and fun! Bond us closer to you and one another through this process.

In Jesus’ Name,

14 thoughts on “a prayer for potty training

  1. This is so rich…and practical friend…for ALL of us in areas where God is calling us to surrender. THANK YOU! and love you 🙂

  2. Also, rest assure it will happen…how many non-special needs adults do you know who still require diapers? I can only imagine that like spiritual development, it must be frustrating to know the final outcome in your heart and soul and watch those precious babies fight this knowledge meant for their benefit. It is a neat analogy.I am sure I frustrate God quite often with my inability to leave what is safe, secure and familiar.

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  4. I sent this to my son and DIL who are beginning (today) the three day potty training process with their 27 month old twin boys. Thank you thank you thank you.

    • Angela, I’m glad to be an encouragement to them! Please have them contact me if they need any further specific cheerleading. [counselinginhope[at]gmail[dot]com] That’s about the exact same time we started with our twins, with the 3-day method. And one year later, one of the girls is 100% potty trained; the other one is about 50% … we eventually decided she wasn’t ready and put her back in pull-ups till she/we feel up to the challenge of trying again. It will get better – assure them of that!

  5. Thank you for this. I needed it desperately. I have a 3.5 year old who is still struggling to finish this potty training process. I’m ashamed to say I have had my share of “unglued” moments in the midst of everything as I’ve struggled with feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and failure.

    • Hang in there, Emily! It will get better – and I’m praying God meets you right now in the midst of the frustration and struggle. (And reminds you of grace for your unglued moments!) thanks for stopping by and I’m glad that I could be an encouragement to you.

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  8. Hi I’m struggling with my 4 year old! I read this recently! This has encouraged me to keep going and persevering! I broken down many times! Thank you for your help

  9. My husband and I will be potty training our twins here in 2 days, and plan to read this prayer together at the start of each new morning. Thank you so much for putting to words what was in our hearts to pray– when we don’t really know what to expect or what we really need. I’m hopeful that this will be a Grace-filled weekend, and will be transformative for all 4 of us.. bringing us closer to Christ in love and full trust. Thank you again for such an encouraging post, Heather! 🙂

  10. Thank you for writing out your prayer to be found on the internet when someone like me simply searches for “a prayer for potty training.” I am potty training my fifth child now and he started to refuse to get on the toilet today. I was way off on acting in love and needed to pray over it all, but didn’t have the words.

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