I am confident that every dad who’s ever had a daughter can relate to at least some of what I’ve been feeling lately. Pardon the cliché, but it feels like just yesterday that my wife and I were bringing our first child, a daughter, home from the hospital in Austin, Texas. Now suddenly that daughter has her first Stake Young Women’s camp under her belt, she’s starting middle school later this fall, and she will be a teenager next spring. I don’t mind admitting I am in denial that my little girl is not so little any more. With a mixture of anxiety and awe, I realize that before I know it, six more years will fly by, and she’ll be heading off to college. (We have a private agreement about where she’s going.)
My daughter is intelligent, beautiful, kind, talented, and faithful. She loves tennis and volleyball, and she is phenomenal on the piano. If she gets to write her life script, it will include a full-time mission and a temple marriage. In short, hers will be a life defined by her Christian discipleship. I know that I can barely comprehend her potential, and I remind her often that I believe she can do anything she sets her mind to. In so many ways, she is a carbon copy of her mother, and I burst with pride when I see the person my daughter is becoming. Incidentally, I could say all of the same things about her younger sister, who is just four years behind her but measures up to her in every way. My daughters are a gift from God.
Watching my girls grow up before my eyes, I can’t help wondering about their future spouses. I remember a local priesthood leader once describing how he had begun to pray for the boys who would one day marry his daughters. It’s a rough world out there, and there are some battle scars I hope my future sons-in-law will be able to avoid. How could I not keep them in my prayers? If I could meet them now, shake hands, and look into their eyes, I would share a few things my prayers for them include:
1- I pray that your father is teaching you to respect women by how he treats your mom.
Few things will influence the way you treat my daughters more than the way you see your dad treat your mom inside your own home. I pray that your dad is teaching you by his example to respect your wife always. In that regard, your dad is in my prayers, too.
2- I pray that your full-time mission will mean as much to you as mine did to me.
You will soon have a decision to make about serving a two-year, full-time mission for the Lord. But truthfully, I hope you make that decision long before you turn 18 and graduate from high school. My full-time mission meant everything to me. I have never met anyone who had a better mission experience than I did—it was everything I ever wanted it to be. So much of what I know about how to be a husband and a father comes from lessons I learned as a missionary. I pray your heart is set on giving the Lord all you’ve got during those two consecrated years of your life.
3- I pray that you honor the priesthood and respect its sacred power.
Of all the elements of your personal identity, I pray that you will recognize the importance of being an honorable priesthood holder. You and I and all of us who hold the priesthood are supposed to be different men because of it. We’re supposed to act like God actually did something when He conferred that sacred power on us. I pray that the way you live your life now and throughout your marriage will reflect the high regard in which you hold the power and authority of the priesthood of God.
4- I pray that you have stayed free from immorality and pornography.
You are growing up in a world that, in many ways, is more challenging than the world in which I grew up. Although there is so much good in the world, immorality is increasing, too. I am especially worried about the availability of pornography and the corrosive, degrading effect it has on the way men—including young men—think about women, love, and physical intimacy. I pray earnestly for you to stay morally clean. One of the greatest gifts you can give my daughter on your wedding day is to be free from any entanglement with pornography and then to stay free from it forever.
5- I pray that your faith is settled.
I do not doubt that in the years and decades ahead of you, you will see friends and loved ones whose fire of faith may dim or go out entirely. My prayer is that your faith will be settled in your heart, that your faith will not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). I pray that you have already had experiences that have taught you the spiritual safety that accompanies a determination to sustain the leaders of the Church through whatever challenges come.
6- I pray that you love the scriptures.
The foundation of my personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the witness I have that the holy scriptures are true. Each time I open their pages, I feel a power and strength that fortifies and renews my testimony. I pray that you have learned to love the scriptures and that they will be an “anchor” to your faith throughout your life (Ether 12:4).
7- I pray that you've felt deeply your dependence on the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In your struggle to be the person you know God wants you to be, I pray you’ve felt the sweet peace that comes from the healing and strengthening powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints who have truly experienced the power of the Atonement in their lives are faithful and steady in their commitment to keep their covenants. I pray you will rely on the Atonement to empower you, protect you, and guide you in all your moments of need.
8- I pray that you will cherish my daughter and show her the pure love of Christ.
Lastly, I pray that you will extend to my daughter the same love that Christ extends to each of us. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). If you let the pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:47) be the defining virtue of your marriage, I know you will cherish my daughter; and your relationship with her will be the fulfillment of what I have hoped and prayed for since that day we first brought her home.
Nate Sharp is an associate professor in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and currently serves as bishop of the College Station 3rd ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He grew up in Holladay, Utah, served a full-time mission for the Church in the Korea Seoul West mission from 1996-1998, and later graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Texas at Austin. He married Holly Carroll in 2003, and they are the proud parents of five beautiful children.