All posts tagged prayer

Prayers to Grow in Parenting

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1. That I will be convicted of any personal hypocrisy lived out before my children, contradicting what I say by what I do, and when appropriate, admit my sin to my children (Matthew 7:3-5).

2. That my words, looks, and actions will clearly reflect to my children that my mate is loved, honored, and cherished (Proverbs 31:10-12; Ephesians 5:25, 28).

3. That I will recognize individual limitations, respect individual differences and have realistic expectations for each child (Colossians 3:21; Ephesians 6:4).

4. That I will never be too tired or angry or negligent to discipline my children wisely (Proverbs 29:17).

5. That I can be a peacemaker to diminish jealousy and irritations between my children and in so doing to encourage them to be peacemakers (Proverbs 17:14; Philippians 2:3; Matthew 5:9).

6. That I will not spoil my children with too many possessions nor too few demands and responsibilities (Psalms 37:16).

7. That I will be able to shield my children against premature association with: sexuality, sophistication in ideas and dress, and unnecessary knowledge of the world (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 17).

8. That I will resist the enticement of popularity for my children and be willing for our family to be different from the world’s standards (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 37).

9. That I will be generous in expressing appreciation and approval while holding back reminders about their past failures and mistakes (Psalms 78:38-39; Proverbs 25:11).

10. That I will know when to step in and take charge of a situation for my children and when to step back and let them learn for themselves (Proverbs 16:9).

11. That prayer will be my immediate response to family joys and crises alike (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

12. That I will daily remember my own need to be taught by God’s Word and filled with His Spirit so that I reflect teh joy of the Lord before my children (Psalm 16:11).

In my children’s future years of free choice, when they make willful or rebellious decisions, protect me from the taunts and accusations of Satan who wants to belittle and mock my efforts to be a Christian parent (Isaiah 50:7).

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

 

**I found a copy of this in my files, and I am not sure who to credit it to. Please let me know if you know where this came from.

How To Know If It’s God’s Voice

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The thought comes galavanting into your mind, seeking to take up residency there. Sometimes it is strong and persuasive, other times it is quiet and small. Sometimes it suggests outlandish things, while other times it seems quiet logical. Sometimes there are several thoughts at once, leading into confusion. Sometimes it is only a solitary word.

Our intruding thoughts can come from three different sources: God, ourself, and the enemy. How do we know which ones to heed? How do we make distinctions between the voices? How can we stop second guessing God’s voice for our own self-talk? How did I know that God was telling me to drink only water for the next few weeks as I stood there in the supermarket aisle?

To tell you the truth, I am still in the process of learning, but here is what I noted.

1. The instruction I heard was challenging. I was not seeking to give up my special drinks for any reason, this wouldn’t be something that I would choose for myself. In fact, it would take a small sacrifice on my part, a denying of myself which is the way of the Christian life. This would be something that I would need God’s help to do.

2. The instruction was clear. It was simple and to the point, void of confusion. Yes, I wasn’t sure of the why, but it was a strong word.

3. The instruction was personal. To many, drinking only water would not be a big deal. However, God personalized his requirement for my life, he obviously knows me all too well :) .

4. The instruction did not contradict Scripture. If there was a hidden lie within the instruction, or if it asked me to do something in opposition to the written Word of God, it would obviously not be from him. There is freedom on this issue, and so I felt comfortable assuming it was God’s voice.

5. The instruction was repeated. When I wondered at his voice the first time, he was gracious to give me another clear word (during my time of prayer and Bible reading, which is another good indicator). Often, when a theme or request continues to surface, I believe that it is because God is trying to get my attention.

There are many other ways that we can verify if we have received a word from the Lord, but these are the ones in this instance that convinced me to obey. Besides this, if I was to err, I wanted to err on the side of obedience. It wouldn’t be wrong of me to drink only water if I had heard incorrectly, but it would be wrong of me to not obey, if what I heard was correct. Does that make sense?

In this case, I let the voice be the voice of God.

Since that word came, God has confirmed his word to me. He gives grace. He helps. He blesses. Sometimes we may never know the why of what he is asking, but therein lies the trust and faith that we are called to exercise as the people of God.

How do you recognize the voice of God in your life?

As an extra side note, when it comes to hearing God’s voice (especially on bigger issues), Priscilla Shirer has what she calls the “5 Ms of Correctly Hearing God” (Discerning the Voice of God, p. 33):

1. Look for the message of the Spirit. “Consciously turn your attention inward to see if what you are sensing carries the weight of God or if it is the unsure, unsnteady voice of your own conscience.”

2. Live in the mode of prayer. “Submit what you hear back to God in prayer.

3. Search out the model of Scripture. “Carefully consider the Scriptures. Does what you think you’re hearing in any way contradict the character of God or the Word of God?”

4. Submit to the ministry of Eli. “Seek the counsel of a wise, more mature believer who can discern God’s leading in his or her own life.”

5. Expect the mercy of confirmation. “Ask the Lord for confirmation.”

Teaching Kids to Pray

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I have a sweet friend who says that she would rather run around outside naked than pray in a group outloud. She is that fearful. We actually forgot about her little phobia after a while and accidentally put her in a position to pray. Needless to say, she kept her clothes on :) , but you could hear the quiver in her voice.

It was beautiful.

Praying is not something that one day we suddenly are able to do. Like the disciples, we need to be taught, and it takes practice.

Over the course of these last few weeks, people have asked how they can best teach their own children to pray. The first important thing that needs to be understood, is that learning to pray is developmental. Just like walking, reading, writing, or any other growing process, there is a progression. We don’t expect our two year olds to start writing Shakespeare without first learning to hold a pencil. In the same way, we don’t expect our two year olds (or even a spiritually young believer) to pray through abstract character qualities or the ACTS acronym for prayer. However, our children can and should be taught. When we are intentional in this, we can lead them (and others) to grow their own beautiful prayer life.

Here are some basic thoughts as to how:

Start early, start now. It is never to early or too late to begin teaching a life of prayer. The tender words of a mother over her newborn baby are absorbed into their spiritual DNA. Helping a child to fold their tiny hands in prayer at a high chair sets the foundation for life long habits. Spiritual vocabulary is learned when an 18-month old says simple one or two word prayers. Over 85% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5 and the capacity for spiritual conversation is set in place.

Be the example. As in all of life, children learn what is caught more than what is taught. As you lead in meal and bed time prayers, they come to accept this practice as a way of life. When they see you praying in your special spot, they take notice. Make your internal dialogue throughout the day external so that your children can have a model for what a relationship with God looks like. I am often saying aloud, “Thank you God for this beautiful day”, or “Will you help us find just the perfect gift for this person?” or “I am sorry, Lord, for losing my temper”. Whether in the car, at the store, or in our home, my children hear our prayers and are learning from them.

Pray for them to grow in prayer. Perhaps this is an obvious one, but how many of us remember to pray for our children’s prayer life? Ask God to teach them to pray in their spirit. Ask Him to speak to your children in profound ways and then help them to recognize when He has spoken or has answered their prayers.

Teach them in developmentally appropriate ways. Leading our children into prayer with attainable expectations will be key to making sure that prayer is something enjoyable for them. We must take baby steps. Here are some age appropriate approaches to the practice.

In the infant stage pray over your baby often, while nursing, changing their diaper, giving them a bath. Associating a warm, loving, and secure home environment with the precious love of God will draw them into a relationship with Him later in life. As they near age one, they can begin holding hands in prayer at meal times, or cherishing the bedtime routine of prayer.

One year olds love to imitate words and are learning spiritual vocabulary (God, Jesus, love, Bible). They are learning simple Bible concepts (God loves me, God made the trees) and are able to begin participating in prayer by folding their own hands and closing their eyes for short prayers. They can repeat one line at a time of either a children’s prayer or your own prayer. Although going to church is made more difficult by separation anxieties, consistent church attendance in spite of this sets the tone for the priority of worshipping God. Here, they will continue to have their understandings about prayer reinforced.

Two year olds can say short, memorized morning, mealtime, and bedtime prayers. As they progress they can begin to express their own thoughts in prayer. One way to do this is to have them fill-in-your blanks. The parent says, “Thank you God for….” and then the child fills in the rest of the sentence. The conversation continues with “I am sorry for…”, “My favorite thing about you is…”, “The best thing about today was…”, “I am sad about….”, etc. At this age, they can also memorize one or two short Bible verses a week, and this too can be a context for prayer.

Three year olds really begin to take off in language skills. They can tell stories, can talk in complete sentences of 3-5 words, and can listen to stories at least 15 minutes long. This jump in language ability and attention span makes it easier for them to take ownership of their prayers. They are more able to ad lib and will pray about their own immediate concerns. Routine in prayer is expected and important. Teaching can begin about the different kinds of prayers: thank you prayers, I am sorry prayers, I love you prayers, please help prayers.

Four year olds are beginning to learn to read and write. Because they are able to understand a few more abstract concepts, they should understand that prayer is talking to God. This ability for conceptual thinking now allows them to grasp the concept of sin and forgiveness. Confession in prayer will be helpful for children as they need an avenue to relieve their guilt and shame. It is at this age that most children have the capability to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Varied approaches to prayer help to make the practice fun and emphasizes that prayer is a part of their relationship with God. They can draw pictures and dictate their prayers. They can begin to pray more appropriately for the needs of others as they begin to understand the world around them, and praying for another family at mealtime will widen their compassion. They may enjoy “popcorn prayer” or simple sentence round robin praying about particular topics.

Five year olds become quite capable of learning almost anything about prayer. Their cognitive abilities coupled with their simplicity and childlike faith make their prayers some of the most beautiful on planet Earth. If they have been grown in prayer up to this point, prayer will become instinctual, moving toward it in many areas of their life.

 

Of course, we continue to learn and grow in prayer and there are numerous enrichments we can provide for our older children’s prayer lives. The point is that we are all growing and developing in prayer, and for children, this coincides with growth in language and conceptual thinking. Even if your children are older, but young in their prayer life, some of the above practices may help to teach them along the way.

And the lesson for those of us who regularly practice prayer? We are never done learning and growing, not here, and probably not even in eternity.

Dear Lord, we so desire that our children learn to love you in prayer. May they come to cherish the privilege that it is. We want you to do a work in their lives so that they will have a deep and abiding relationship with you. As parents, help us to teach, to model, and to lead our children toward a beautiful prayer life. Thank you, God, that you promise to finish the work that you have started in our kids. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.