How to pray for your sons of thunder

Raising boys isn’t for wimps.

They have one volume…loud.

They have one speed setting…fast.

They have one goal…conquer.

If you’re a mother of boys, you know what I’m talking about. They run. They rough house.  They hoot. They holler. And that’s just at breakfast!

When I see little girls, I often wonder at their dainty mannerisms, sweet spirits, and obedient smiles.

Then I look at my four-year-old twins doing somersaults on the floor and have to grab one by the ear before he accidentally kicks another child in the head with his cowboy boots.

In fact, it’s by God’s sheer grace that we’ve been to the emergency room only once in four years.

Half the time I’m scared out of my wits and the rest I spend issuing apologies to other parents or teachers.

And not a second goes by that I don’t harbor this thought: “I pray they turn out ok.” 

I bet you the mother of James and John felt the same way. In Mark 3:15-17, Jesus nicknames this ancient dynamic duo “Sons of Thunder”  - a fact recently drawn to my attention by a dear friend.

“James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, ‘Sons of Thunder’.” Mark 3:17

My lexicon says this dubious moniker probably denotes a “fiery and destructive zeal that may be likened to a thunder storm.”

Destructive, eh? That sounds vaguely familiar.

Although Scripture doesn’t tell us much about Mrs. Zebedee, I can easily picture her mortified by what her son, James, said to the neighbor’s kid. I can picture her frustration over John’s stubborn refusal to eat his veggies at dinner.

In the book of Matthew, we discover that like most mothers, Mrs. Zebedee was intensely interested in her sons’ future. In fact, she goes so far as to petition the Lord for a special seat for them in the Kingdom (Matt. 20:20-28).

Because whatever anxieties plagued Mrs. Zebedee concerning her two sons, they were totally and completely quieted by Christ – who transformed these seemingly aggressive brothers into mighty heroes of faith. 

Moms, while we are waiting on God to transform their hearts, we must be faithful to pray for our own Sons of Thunder.

Here are three ways you can pray for your son:

  • Pray that God changes his heart. I often find myself worried or anxious about my boys’ behavior, when I should be focusing on their heart instead. Zero in on your son’s heart during your prayer time. Pray his heart is protected and guided to God. Pray he would learn to submit to authority and ultimately to God.
  • Pray that God would turn potential weaknesses into sure strengths. If your son is aggressive, pray that God would begin to shape your son into a capable leader. If your son is outspoken and loud, pray that God would cultivate his boldness to share the gospel. If your son lacks a sense of fear, pray that God would use his zeal for God’s glory.
  • Pray that God would transform him into a servant.  Skills, talents, and appearance are wonderful qualities in many successful men. But more often than not in Scripture, the men through whom God worked mightily were servant leaders. When Mrs. Zebedee asked for a prominent place for her sons in Christ’s kingdom, Christ pointed her to the significance of his own servant status (Matt. 20:20-28). Pray for God to cultivate in your son a heart for serving others – starting with family, friends, and authorities. Pray for God to ignite a passion for God, his church, and the world.

Moms of boys, we have a tough assignment. But God gives us hope!  Regardless of how many rules we enforce or how many times we reprove and correct – we can safely leave our sons in God’s hands.

James and John are living proof that God changes wild hearts and re-directs wayward feet toward Him.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 

1 John 3:2



About melissa deming

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.