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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The Clumsy Mom

Photo Credit: Laurens Meurs

If you’ve known me a few years, you’re probably aware that I’m a klutz. In my college days, I was tripping, slipping, sliding, tottering, falling and hurting myself quite often. And not in a very graceful way either :D!

All that changed when I got married. My husband (sweetheart that he is) helped me by affirming over and over again that I was not a clumsy person. And by being at my side to steady me if I ever did trip/slip/slide/….

Then we had kids… and my whole world (er… I mean my house) became clumsy. If you walk into our home unannounced you’ll be sure to find any or all of the following scattered around our living room…

  • Toys
  • Legos
  • Clothes
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Broken cars
  • Cups
  • Balls
  • More broken cars
  • Footwear
  • Bottles
  • Spoons
  • Did I mention “broken cars”?
  • School bags
  • Plastic carry bags
  • Books
  • Cycles

Now, don’t get me wrong here. My husband & I (OK, its mostly my husband) makes sure the house is tidy (or at least navigable) but it rarely stays that way for more than a few minutes! My sons are somehow able to steer themselves through the obstacle course in our living room with no casualties, but every step I take is usually a disaster waiting to happen.

Thanks in part to my clumsy home but mostly due to my own carelessness, I have had quite a few “accidents” over the past few month that have caused me some pain. Remember the cabinet door that fell on my foot? And then I slipped on a puddle of water outside the bathroom. Oh, and an axle from one of the broken cars punctured my sole (OUCH!). And I slipped on a puddle of water (again!) in our living room 🙁 .

The last fall just about did me in – I didn’t know whether to yell, cry, laugh at myself or blame somebody else for my fall. But in keeping with my habit of speaking positively, here’s what I’ve surmised…

  • Busted knees make earnest prayers.
  • Keep pointed objects off the floor.
  • Wear non-slip slippers (Is that an oxymoron?) at at all times.
  • Get rid of broken toys when the kids aren’t looking (Shh!).
  • Thank God, it wasn’t the kids!

If you have a bunch of small kids living with you, how do you keep the living room clean for more than 5 minutes? Seriously… I’d like to know.

Lessons from a Fallen Tree

Our first Christmas together as a family was spent with our babies in the NICU. Our second Christmas, we were just happy to make it to our church’s Christmas service on time with our triplets in tow! So, last year (our third Christmas), my husband decided that it was finally time to celebrate Christmas in our house.

My husband (with little or no help from me) got the tree up & decorated the house as well. His enthusiasm was infectious & eventually the skeptic in me (that thought the kids were too young for a tree) was silenced. End of the day, the tree was up – decked with ornaments and lights.

Fast forward to the following evening. The sons were really excited about the tree and the lights and in a sudden surge of energy, thought it would be a grand idea to tug the tree a little bit. Needless to say, a little tug by rambunctious 3-year old triplets brought the tree crashing down, lights and all!

A hundred thoughts ran through my mind – and I am ashamed to admit, the most prominent one was that maybe we shouldn’t have put the tree up at all :(. I admonished the sons and sent them to their room to await Dad’s arrival. Dada dearest of course had no hard feelings save a stern warning to the sons. He proceeded to put the tree up again and tied it securely to the nearest entertainment center/bookshelf.

We learnt a lot of things from the “Fallen Tree” incident (atleast I did). Here’s what we did differently this year!

  • I made an effort to have a positive attitude (even if the sons were to bring the tree down again!).
  • We found an online family friendly radio station that provided background Christmas music for our decorating session.
  • We got our sons to help decorate the tree. They were only too happy to help!
  • We seized every opportunity to remind the boys that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birthday.

Its been 3 days, and the tree is still standing – although once in a while we do find a son sneaking off with an ornament or two :D. Will it stay upright until tomorrow? I really can’t say… But even if it doesn’t, we’ll still savor the memory of decorating the house together as a family this Christmas.

I am linking up with:

Growing Home

A Peaceful Power Outage

Until my mid-twenties (before I became a wife & mother of 3 boys within a period of 8 months), I actually liked power outages.  And believe me, there were always plenty in our city.  In summer, I would stand outside the house gazing at the starry skies.  And when it rained, I would be content curling up to read a book by candlelight or just dream.

But when my husband and I had kids – power outages became a our worst nightmare.  Oh the woes of trying to clean up a messy diaper by candlelight – I’ll spare you the details :D.  As our sons grew up, we realized that they would get unusually cranky and whine a lot out of boredom, every time there was was a power outage.

Well…. I admit, I would be whining too – about how I couldn’t get the laundry done, or cook/wash dishes by candlelight.  Over the years we’ve learnt how to cope up with power outages.  And it works for the most part – even if it’s just to ease the boredom and the crankiness.  Here’s how we do it:

1. I stop trying to get something done by candlelight – cooking, dishes, cleaning, whatever… I stop whatever I was in the middle of, sit down and take a break – just to relax and spend time with the family.  Everything else can wait.

2. We get the kids involved in some activity. Here are some ideas:

  • Newspaper Fun: Grab a few newspapers and a pair of scissors (or 3 pairs of safety scissors for the triplets).  Cut out shapes, alphabets or numbers out of the newspapers.  The kids usually have fun identifying the shapes or cutting some up by themselves.  We let them glue the shapes onto a plain white paper or a card to prolong the activity.
  • Shadow Stories: Go the old fashioned route – use fingers to make shadows against the wall by candlelight.  We make up stories to get the kids’ attention and my husband includes sound effects for added entertainment.

3. We leave the house.  Take the kids out for a walk – if the weather is good; or go on a long drive.  We grab some dinner outside if it’s late.  That way, the half-cooked meal on the stove-top can be refrigerated for the following day.  And the kids are fed and ready for bed by the time we get back home.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to help your kids tide over power outages?

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Tips to Preserve your Sanity

Parenting triplets is difficult.  I wish it wasn’t but it is…  And more often than I’d like to admit, I stand on the verge of going insane.  There are some days that I just lose it.  What could my angelic, music loving sons possibly do to send me over the edge?

Oh, just any or all of the following at the same time:

  • Fight/hit/push/shove each other.
  • Yell at each other (and they are LOUD).
  • Teasing a brother (causing him to cry).
  • Throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, when they want it.
  • Break anything breakable/unbreakable (including a stainless-steel butter knife).
  • Fling toys/vessels/anything they can lay their hands on (no matter how heavy).

No amount of my reasoning, pleading or begging helps change the situation.  I could resort to extreme measures:

  • Dissolve into tears
  • Yell at them
  • Smack them

… but that rarely helps.  Believe me, I’ve tried.. 🙁

So, what helps?  Here are 10 steps that work to help preserve my sanity:

  1. As long as they are not violent, let them resolve the conflict by themselves.  Step in only if things are getting out of hand.
  2. If they are violent, physically separate them.
  3. If by now you have almost lost your mind, take a few minutes to step away and calm yourself.
  4. Take a deep breath and count to 10.  Or 20.  Or 30.  Till you can think clearly, at least.
  5. Pray.  A lot.  For yourself.  And for them.
  6. Show them grace.  Discipline them in love and not in anger.
  7. Urge them to apologize.
  8. Hugs & Kisses all around.
  9. Reaffirm that you love them & that Jesus loves them even more.
  10. Huddle on the couch and watch a worship CD together.

So, what do you do to preserve your sanity?

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It’s One of Those Days

I was planning to write this amazing post on the really funny things my boys say.  And then it turns out I haven’t had a chance to write a single word all day.  Yes, its one of those days… Our sons are down with fever – all three of them :(.

On Saturday night on the way back from a Bible study at our church, Jason started burning up with fever.  Jon joined his brother with a temperature yesterday.  Needless to say, we couldn’t attend church on Sunday and the kids stayed back from school today.  Judah, not to be left out, joined the bandwagon today.  As of now, we have 3 sick kids, 1 weary mom and 1 sleep-deprived dad trying to hold it all together.

How do we manage?  Grace, Grace and more Grace.  We’re trusting God to lead us through these difficult days.  For “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29)

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Giggles…

I love to hear our sons laugh (Of course!  Which mother doesn’t?  DUH!).  They may be identical in their looks and mannerisms but each one’s laugh is unique.  When one of them finds something funny and shares it with his brothers, the laughs that erupt are more like giggles than throaty guffaws.

Oh yeah, I love their giggling.  But I don’t always enjoy it.  Yes, you read it correctly – I don’t always enjoy their giggles.  Explanation follows.

Scenario 1: Our sons love to giggle when we tell them to close their eyes and it’s time to go to sleep.  They peek at each other from under the blankets and erupt into… yup, you guessed it right… giggles!  After spending the past hour trying to get them into bed, I know I have to keep a straight face and with a firm voice repeat that they have to close their eyes.  But more often than not, my husband and I end up giggling along with them – for no apparent reason!

Scenario 2: The triplets are a mischievous bunch.  When one of them discovers something forbidden, he unselfishly lets his brothers commit the crime along with him.  What results is a stern warning from me and a reminder of the consequences.  Needless to say, the second my back is turned, they jump right back – doing the very same thing and with cheeky laughs to match!  Oh, how I just want to laugh with them and enjoy the moment – for I know they are but little boys.  Instead, I stifle my giggles and with a firm tone send them to their room, for they need to be taught that disobedience has its consequences.  Sometimes, doing the right thing can be such a mood dampener.  Sigh!

Scenario 3: Our boys giggle during prayers… Ummm… Didn’t they get the memo?  You know, the one that says little boys have to keep their heads bowed, hands folded, eyes closed and maintain silence at prayer time…  LOL!  Well, the 3J brothers are fond of peering at each other under half-closed eyelids and giggling… loudly!  It’s almost embarrassing at prayer meetings where we get quite a few stares when the “triple giggle” distracts quite a few people trying to sincerely commune with God.  Well, they are but little boys… nevertheless, the responsibility of teaching them to respect the time we spend speaking to God falls on us, the parents.  During bedtime prayers, they get to jump, dance and sing a few songs but we’re teaching them to honor God when it’s time to pray!

We’re learning that there are times when we can just laugh with our sons and enjoy the moment…  And then there are those times when we have to stifle our giggles and correct them and teach them right from wrong.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

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