Let The Children Come ~ Be An Example

So far in this series, we’ve emphasized the importance of praying for our children, how to teach our kids about God, how to encourage them to pray and tips to teach them God’s Word. Today, we’re concluding this series with one of the most important ways we can lead our children to Jesus – by living lives that are a testimony of God’s grace.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

We can pray all day for our children and diligently teach them the Bible, but all that won’t make a difference, if our kids don’t see us practicing what we teach them. We can teach them that God’s given us everything we need, but if they see us being discontent and grumbling about what little we have, what are they taking away from it?

Even as babies, our kids imitate us – they smile, wave their hands and learn to clap, after seeing us do the same. Toddlers learn new words and mannerisms by observing us. If they see us reading the Bible and praying on a regular basis, won’t they want to do the same?

Your children will become who you are; so be who you want them to be. ~ Anonymous

If I want my kids to grow up to be men who’ll follow God’s will in their lives and have a steadily growing relationship with Him, then I need to do the same. My kids need to see God working in me. They need to see the evidence of God’s grace in my daily life.

There was no better teacher on this earth than Jesus Himself. He preached the truth and it was evident in His own life. We too should strive to live in obedience to God’s Word because our lives will impress our kids. It’s up to us to to model faith that will either draw our kids closer to God or drag them away from Him.

Your hunger for God can create an appetite in your children. ~ The Love & Respect Experience

Do our kids see us hunger and thirst for God? Do we place an importance on God in our daily lives? Or do we relegate Him to Sundays in church? Do our kids see us consistent in our prayer lives, or do they see us flipping through the Bible in a hurry just once or twice a week?

A few ways we can build up an appetite for God in our kids’ lives:

  • Read your Bible regularly – with your kids, to them or in front of them.
  • Pray with them as often as you can. I pray with the kids in the morning, and we have a family prayer at night. Include meal times and sickness, and you’ve got quite a few opportunities to pray with your kids.
  • Share prayer requests with your kids. We tell the kids when someone is ill and they need prayer. They often surprise us with a spontaneous prayer (filled with child-like faith) that really tugs at our heart strings.
  • Worship with your children. I guess all children love music. Use every opportunity you can to play a worship DVD, a YouTube video or gospel music in your car and let the children worship God with you.
  • Share with them your weaknesses and boast of God’s strength. We all have days when we snap at the kids… use that opportunity to apologize to them and share how you too need God’s grace to control your anger.
  • Practice thanksgiving. Thank God for little things everyday, encourage your kids to do the same and soon they’ll realize that every good gift is from God.
  • Give generously. I learnt the importance of giving my tithe, supporting missionaries and helping the poor only because I saw my mother doing the same.
  • Involve the kids in your ministry if possible. Whether you’re praying for a friend, leading a Bible study or singing in the choir, let the kids see you ministering to others.
  • Remain rooted in your faith. Our kids need to know that we’ll continue to trust God no matter what. Let them know that even in the most difficult circumstances, your faith in God remains firm.
  • Live a life of integrity. Nothing throws older children off more than a christian parent who doesn’t practice the principles outlined in the Bible.
  • Model Christ. This is a biggie. No human on earth can be just like Jesus, but we can try. Start with the fruit of the Spirit and strive to be a role model for your kids.

Further reading:

One important aspect I haven’t covered in this series is teaching our kids about salvation. My husband and I are still in the process of teaching our sons about the concept of sin and their need for redemption; and we’ve got a long way to go. I request you to read this post by a fellow blogger who used to be a children’s pastor. She’s written an entire series on salvation for kids – be sure to check it out here.

Closing thoughts:

This series was aimed to share with you, things that worked for our family. This is not a to-do list, but merely suggestions. Our ultimate guide is the Bible, and our mentor is God Himself. I pray that you’ll let God teach you how to lead your children to Him. And lastly, I admit that in spite of all my good intentions, I fail everyday in leading my children to Christ. I can only pray that God will work in our children’s hearts and our meager efforts will one day bear fruit for His glory.

Other posts in this series:

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Let The Children Come ~ Teach Them God’s Word

So far in this series, we’ve emphasized the importance of praying for our children, how to teach our kids about God and how to encourage them to pray. In today’s post, we look into how we can teach our kids God’s Word, straight from the Bible.

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

Did you catch that? “Teach them to your children” – is that a direct instruction to parents or what?! We’re talking about the Word of God here, the Bible… There’s no tip-toeing around it and passing the buck to our church or the Sunday school. It is up to us parents to teach our kids God’s Word.

A Children’s Bible

It’ll be a worthy investment to buy your child a Bible when he or she is still a toddler. That way, kids learn from a young age the importance of owning a Bible and taking care of it. They could also carry it to church like they see you do. Of course, in our case, our kids had to share one Bible, so they never got to carry it to church. A few tips:

  • Buy an age-appropriate Bible. For toddlers, this would mean a Bible that can withstand a little wear and tear. We received this Bible as a gift from my sister-in-law. It was similar to a board book with stiff pages and had cute pictures. We used that when our kids were smaller and then moved on to this and this.
  • If they are too young to understand the words in the Bible, instead of just reading it to them, use the pictures to explain the story to them.
  • And, instead of just re-telling them the story, let the story point our kids to God. It’s important that the kids learn something about God through the Bible stories.

A simple example: Take the story of the centurion approaching Jesus, asking Him to heal his servant. The takeaway will sound something like this… “Even though Jesus did not go to the centurion’s house and lay His hands on the servant; He still healed him. In the same way, even though we cannot see Jesus; Jesus can still heal you when you’re sick.”

Memorize Scripture

I think we all know that nothing can substitute the pure, undiluted word of God. When we can teach our kids nursery rhymes, why should Bible verses be left behind? Here are a few passages we’ve taught our kids over the past couple of years.

  • Psalm 23
  • John 3:16
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Psalm 121 (In Progress)

So, how do you go about teaching your kids to memorize scripture? Here’s what we did:

  • Going at a slow pace, maybe just 1 or 2 verses a month.
  • Explaining the verse in words the kids can understand.
  • Being consistent, teaching them the verse every day if possible.
  • Saying the verse out aloud, a few words at a time and making them repeat it after us.
  • Using hand actions to emphasize the words.
  • Taking some time each month to recap the previous portions of scripture they’ve memorized.
  • Not expecting perfection and prompting them when they forget the verses.

Here are some links to other posts in the blogosphere that talk about teaching our kids to memorize scripture:

  1. A Little R & R: 4 Ways You Can Teach Toddlers God’s Word
  2. Growing Home: Teaching Children to Memorize Scripture
  3. The MOB Society: Hand Movements for Psalm 23

Given that my kids are less than 5 years old, I obviously lack experience in teaching older kids God’s Word. Would you help me and the readers out? Share with us how you’ve been teaching the Bible to your kids.

Other posts in this series:

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Let The Children Come ~ Encourage Them To Pray

So far in this series, we’ve emphasized the importance of praying for our children and how to teach them about God. Today’s post is all about encouraging our children to pray on their own.

If we’ve established the habit of praying for our children, next in line is teaching them to do the same. For my husband and I, it started with praying together with the kids. For a while, they were silent spectators; but they soon realized that prayer meant just talking to Jesus, Whom they were well aware of. As parents, all we have to do is be vigilant and look for opportunities to encourage our kids to pray. Here’s what worked for us.

1. Before a meal

I have to give my husband all the credit for teaching our kids to pray before meals. As soon as they could speak, he would pray and ask the kids to repeat the words after him. Eventually, they started praying on their own. But when their meal-time prayers became repetitive, my husband would remind them why we’re thanking God for the food and encouraged them to use different words to convey their gratitude.

2. Before leaving the house

Another habit, again enforced by my husband was praying every time we left the house. Whether we were leaving the house for a social call, the park, church or school, we would pray together and ask for God’s grace and protection on our family. It’s no wonder that now, all the kids want to individually pray before we leave our home; and we have to cut them short if we’re running late.

3. Prayer for physical healing

Whenever a child had an ache or a bruise, my husband or I would hold the child in our arms and pray with him; asking Jesus to heal him. Eventually, the kids started asking us to pray for them every time they had some discomfort; which we gladly did. Over time, we started prompting the kids to ask Jesus for their own healing. Here’s a sample conversation.

Child: Mama, my stomach is paining. Pray and ask Jesus to heal me.
Mother: Baby, you can ask Him yourself? Just talk to Jesus, like you’re talking to me.
Child: Ok.. “Jesus, my stomach is paining.. please heal my stomach. Let the pain go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

When the ache/bruise subsided, we would remind the kids to thank God for their healing; which they were only too glad to do.

4. Family prayer

There’s no better place to teach our kids how to pray than during our family prayers. Find a time that works for your family, when everyone can gather together. For our family, this is just before the kids’ bedtime. We read from the kids’ Bible, sing a few songs and end with prayer.

After several months of hearing us pray, our kids insisted on doing it on their own. They had learnt the semantics of prayer by hearing us pray every night. They usually start their prayers with “Jesus” or “Father” and end with “In Jesus’ Name, Amen”. But none of that matters as long as your child learns to express himself/herself to Jesus in a personal way.

5. Just talking to Jesus

The greatest joy we’ve experienced as parents is to hear our kids praying without any prompting from us. Yes, that might include them asking God for a pool. But it might also include a child gazing up at the sky and saying “Jesus, where are you?” or “Jesus, I want to see you”. And sometimes a more profound “Jesus is opening the clouds and looking at me!”.

Closing thoughts:

  • At times your child may simply not be interested in praying, and that’s ok.
  • If they need to be prompted, you could just ask them what they want to thank Jesus for.
  • There may be days when the kids insist on praying really long prayers; let them :).

Let’s remember to teach our kids to “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As I mentioned in my introductory post, I am learning alongside you. How do you encourage your kids to pray? Would you care to share with us in the comments below?

Other posts in this series:

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Let The Children Come ~ Teach Them About God

Last week, we learnt the importance of praying for our children and how to incorporate scripture in our prayers. This week, we’ll see how we can teach our kids about God.

“One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4)

As parents, we hold the bottom-line responsibility to teach our children about God. It is not something we can pass on to the church or the Sunday school teachers. But what do we teach them and when do we start?

My husband and I started teaching our kids about God when they were old enough to recognize the world around them. When they could identify the sky, clouds, trees, birds and animals; we started teaching them about God! Isn’t that where the Bible also starts? 🙂

An Awesome God

When our kids were old enough to identify nature, we started telling them how God made everything around them. We would point out to the sky, trees, animals… the sun, rain, lightening, thunder and tell them God made that. We didn’t use a children’s Bible or the creation story, but we should have. You’ll do better, right? 🙂

When kids start realizing how much God has created, they understand the awesomeness of God. And they might or might not say a few funny, yet impressive statements…

“See. It’s raining. Jesus turned the tap on.”

“Jesus, please stop the rain. I want to go out and play.”

A Personal God

It wouldn’t do any good if we taught our kids how awesome God is, and failed to mention how personal He is to each of them. When our kids were about two years old, we started telling them how close God is to them. We simply told them that Jesus lives in their hearts.

My husband even taught our kids this catchy song:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Jesus stays in my heart.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday,
Jesus stays in my heart.
Everyday, all the way, Jesus stays in my heart.

When a child was scared, we would explain that Jesus was awake, watching over them (Psalm 121:3-4). We used every opportunity we could, to tell our kids what God had done for us. “Jesus helped us buy a car” or “Jesus healed your tummy pain“, are just a few examples of statements that made God relevant in our kids’ daily lives. We also encouraged them to speak to Jesus, just as they would to anybody else {but more on that in next week’s post}.

For all that we teach our kids about God, none of it matters until they seek Him for themselves. While that may take a few years, we should remain obedient to God and teach our kids about Him. As I mentioned in my introductory post, I am learning alongside you. How do you teach your kids about God? Would you care to share with us in the comments below?

Other posts in this series:

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Let The Children Come ~ Pray for Them

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.” (I Samuel 1:27)

The easiest, and yet most important way we can lead our children to Jesus, is by simply praying for them. Ideally, we should start praying for them from the moment we realize God has given them life. A positive pregnancy test or seeing the child’s heart beating on the monitor for the first time is a reminder of the responsibility God is entrusting in our hands.

Initially my husband and I prayed for our kids’ lives, because we knew the risk of losing one or all of them. When we realized they were going to be premature, we prayed specifically that their organs would develop in time and that they’ll be the height and weight that God wanted them to be. We even prayed that they’ll be born on the day that God intended them to enter the world.

We prayed through the NICU days and quite a few major ailments, literally pleading with God for their lives. During trying times when their development was delayed, we prayed that they would progress at the pace that God wanted them to. But somewhere along the line, with all the exhaustion of mothering triplets; I stopped praying for their specific needs and started praying for more grace and strength to help me deal with them instead. Nothing wrong with that, except that I was not specifically praying for my children.

Over the past year, God has been moving in my heart, teaching me how to pray for my sons – for their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. I recently read Warrior Prayers and that book spoke to my heart. I learnt that while we can train our kids to behave well, it will mean nothing if God doesn’t work in their hearts. We can pray that God will change our kids’ behavior, but isn’t it their hearts that truly matter? Isn’t it our ultimate desire to raise children who will learn to love God and follow His plan in their lives?

Through Warrior Prayers, I learnt to pray God’s Word for my kids. In simple terms, it is to read a verse from the Bible and fashion it into a prayer for your children.

For example the verse:

“…I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22b)

…becomes a prayer such as this:

“Lord, I pray that Jason, Jon and Judah will grow up to be men after Your own heart. May they choose to do everything You want them to do.”

I’ve made it a point to pray a verse over my sons at least once a day. And this is apart from praying for their other needs – good health, divine protection and (physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual) growth.

There are quite a few prayer calendars out there to help you pray for your children everyday. Here are the links to some of them:

  • The MOB Society {They publish a new prayer calendar every month. It’s tailored for sons but you could use the same for your daughters as well.}
  • Inspired To Action {Look for the link named “A Mother’s Prayer Calendar”, under the section “Downloadable Resources”.}
  • Time-Warp Wife {Free printable prayer cards}

If you are on Facebook, you may want to “Like” the following pages that post a prayer for our children everyday. You could simply pray along, when you see the prayers in your Facebook newsfeed.

You could use any of the resources I’ve linked to above, or you could simply adapt a verse from your daily Bible reading and pray it over your kids. If you aren’t in the habit of praying for your children, it’s not too late to start today. It doesn’t matter how old they are. Let’s make a commitment to pray for our kids everyday, that they will grow up to be men and women who will love Jesus and seek Him above all else.

Other posts in this series:

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Let The Children Come – Introduction

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

We’ve often heard sermons on the latter part of this verse, but today my focus is on the first half.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them. ~ Jesus

I believe this verse is a direct instruction to me as a parent. It is my responsibility to let my children come to Jesus. I have to lead them towards Him and not hinder them in any way. At times the responsibility weighs heavily on me – to raise sons who will be men after God’s own heart, who will love Him and seek His will in their lives. But all my efforts would be in vain if not for God’s grace and favor in my children’s lives.

Based on this verse, I’ve been inspired to write a series of blog posts titled “Let The Children Come”. It will be a 5 part series, posted every Wednesday starting next week (if all goes according to plan). Each week, we’ll be focusing on one way we can bring our children to Jesus. I will be sharing simple and practical tips that my husband and I follow in leading our children closer to God.

That being said, I do not proclaim to know it all. I am a flawed, imperfect human being who is learning alongside you. What we have in common is the passion to raise our children for the glory of God. I pray this series will be a blessing to you – that God will use it to enrich your parenting. Will you join me in this journey to lead our children closer to Jesus?

Other posts in this series:

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