Teach them to pray

I will be 29 years old this year.  It seems like a long time but it really hasn’t been.  The first ten years I spent growing and learning, absorbing everything that came along my path.  The next three were spent trying to figure out where I fit.  The five that came after was my teenage years and they were pretty much the norm for any teenage girl.  Then I became an adult… well at least I was able to vote and get married.  Honestly, I don’t think that I can say I became an actual ‘adult’ until I hit 25.  Things started to make sense then.  By 25 I had been married for 6 years, suffered two hard losses, and had three children.  I was teetering on the edge of everything and I realized that the words my dad had spoken a week before my wedding were finally about to hit home.

“Do you love Jesus?  Because someday everyone, including your soon to be groom, will let you down.  One day things are going to fall apart and I really want to know that you love Jesus so when that day comes, I will know that you are okay.”

It caught me off guard.  I think I mumbled some reply like, “Of course, dad, but don’t worry, everything will be fine.”

I get it now.  When everything fell apart I realized that I didn’t love Jesus enough.  In truth, about three months before everything fell apart I realized I didn’t have the kind of faith that I was going to need to manage everything… so I stopped trying.

Three years later things have evened out for me.  My family is happy.  I have learned to love being at home with my children.  I have learned that my husband is a really great guy who will stick by us through thick and thin.  Most importantly, though, I have learned that Jesus will never leave me, no matter what… all I have to do is pray.

If there is anything that you are going to be successful at teaching your children, let it be prayer.  Let them pray with you.  Let them pray alone.  Let them watch you pray while tears stream down your face or when you can’t possibly smile bigger than you are.  Prayer is very important.

So the other night at supper, my youngest son declared that we had forgotten to pray.  I watched around the table as heads bowed, hands were put together and three little boys all started to bless the food at once.  There was no way to decipher what was said but I know it was a joyful noise.  Then beside me I watched my one year old daughter stick her fists together, bow her head, and mumble incomprehensible baby babble.  I was blown away.  She was praying.

Then there was the moment when I rewarded my son with two cookies for a job well done.  After handing him the cookies, I reminded him of the prayers we had prayed in asking Jesus to help us through this task.  I told him that it would be a good idea to thank Him.  I watched as he put his cookies further away from him, sat up straight in his chair, closed his eyes, folded his hands and took a deep breath before starting.  Again, I was blown away.  Here was my seven year old, understanding that he needed to remove the distraction (cookies) so that he could dedicate the right amount of time to his creator.

I don’t tell you these things because I want you to think I am doing a great job as a parent.  I tell you these things because I want you to see that instilling prayer in your child’s life can begin at any age.

Sometimes I see other Christian kids talking about Bible stories and I think that I am failing because my kids don’t know those things.  The enemy loves to take another person’s joy and use it against us but don’t let him.  Be the best example you can be to your children and let them learn from that example.

Mark 9:21-24

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered, “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.  But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“If you can believe.” Said Jesus,  “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Help me overcome my unbelief!  That’s truth.  You don’t have to be perfect because you’ve already failed at that.  You just have to be earnest in seeking Jesus…. and if you don’t know how to do that, then pray.  He will help you overcome your unbelief.

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