Involve children in the journey of faith

We all want to raise good kids.  We want our children to be kind and compassionate, loving and forgiving.

How in the world do we teach them these things? From my experience, we simply cannot do it on our own.  But we can point them to the One who is good, just, and perfect!

Here are just a few tangible practices that I have found helpful in attempting to draw our little children closer to God.

Pray for yourself.  Let’s face it.  There is no way that we can show the love of God to our children 24/7 without His help!  There are way too many tantrums, spilled glasses of milk, and altercations between siblings to keep us from losing our head in our own humanness.  In addition to praying fervently for our children, we also need to pray that we can be the parents God has called us to be!

My favorite prayer lately has been adapted from Romans 8:11.  “Lord, the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living inside of me this very minute.  Surely you, Oh God, can help me handle this (tantrum, fight, vomit-fest) with grace and love!”

Talk to God throughout the day.  Although I think it is still beneficial to have a chunk of time dedicated to prayer during the day (like in the morning or right before bed), I’ve found it’s essential to pray ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day (which often are uttered more like pleas for help).

Pray with your children.  There is nothing more precious than hearing a prayer from the mouth of a child!  Even when my 2-year old’s prayer consists only of “ mungu baba, bariki dad, bariki mum, bariki mimi, bariki simba. amen “Dear heavenly father,  bless dad, bless mum, bless me, bless lion bless  Amen,” my heart still leaps for joy that she is beginning a lifelong process of being in communication with our Creator.

Children need to hear prayers demonstrated in a variety of settings and from a variety of people.  They also need opportunities to say their own prayers, even though they might not fully understand what prayer really is just yet. 

Pray for boo-boos, pray for fears during the night, pray for sick pets nothing is too small to pray for, especially when your child initiates it!

Hide God’s Word in their Hearts.  I was not all that convicted of the need to memorize scripture.  After all, we can open the Bible whenever we need to, right?  In the last several months after a series of circumstances; however, I now see the great and lasting benefits of memorizing God’s Word.  I want my daughter to grow up with a love for the Word and simple passages that they can recall whenever faced with a situation or problem… or perhaps when they just need some encouragement! 

Make Bible stories come to life.  Move over fairy tales… the stories in the bile are extremely captivating to little ones and they are all true. It amazes me how excited our daughter listens to bible stories when told in our language. I was lastly narrating to her the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus and in the middle of the story she contributed “ na Yesu akamshikilia hakuanguka kwa mti” “and Jesus held him and he did not fall from the tree.”

Demonstrate small acts of kindness every day.  I am currently working on a goal of doing a small but intentional act of kindness each and every day. Involving our kids in small acts of kindness, whether planned or spontaneous, shows our children how to think outside of themselves and their desires. 

Bless Your Children. The necessity of bestowing blessings is frequently overlooked. There are many children today who are desperately pleading like Esau, “Bless me, even me also, O my father” (Genesis 27:34). Learn and recite priestly blessings in Numbers 6:24 to bless your children.

When mothers and fathers brought children to Jesus the disciples reprimanded these parents. But, Jesus immediately rebuked the disciples and encouraged the children to come to Him (Mark 10:13-16)  Jesus blessed these children in three important ways that they should also emulate:

·         Jesus took time for the children.

·         Jesus tenderly touched the children and offered loving affirmation.

·         Jesus used a tempered tongue with the children.

To bless your child is to speak a message that attaches high value and pictures a special future for them with an active commitment as a parent to help them fulfill it. Make sure you take time to regularly bless each of your children.

Train Your Children. Ephesians 6:1-3 commands children to do two things – to obey and honor their parents. The Bible promises a two fold blessing to those children who keep these two commands. The flip side is that parents must realize they are on a rescue mission to train their children to obey and give honor.

Following the commands given to children, God specifically instructs the father in Ephesians 6:4. The father  is commanded:

·         To not provoke his children to anger

·         To “Bring them up”

·         To use nurture (discipline or chastening)

·         To use admonition (warnings and instruction)

Have a blessed weekend.