When I was a new mom, I read a book called Creative Family Times by The authors encouraged me to get in the habit of carrying on conversations with my children about God as often as possible.
In this blog series, I’m listing ideas to get the conversations started. I’ll just list verses straight from the Bible, then I’ll share beneath how we implement some of the ideas in our home.
Prayer is essential to building faith in our children. Well… praying in a way that our children see and hear is essential.
Do you remember the account of Daniel in Babylon?
The governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”
So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. (Daniel 6:4-11)
Do our children see and hear us praying? We must not keep our faith and trust to ourselves!
What Scripture Says
“Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
In the morning, O YHVH, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:2-3).
“But I call to God,
and YHVH saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16-17).
“I love YHVH, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1-2).
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
“The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
fathers tell their children
about your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:19).
“Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation” (Joel 1:3).
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:21-22).
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28).
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
“Pray continually…” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from YHVH” (James 1:5-7).
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of YHVH. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; YHVH will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16).
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
Making It Practical
Well, let’s just see what the Bible says to do:
- We need to concretely teach that we should pray only to YHVH as God. This sounds obvious, but think about your speech (saying, “Good luck,” or “I wish that such-and-such would happen,” or even worrying aloud instead of taking concerns to God first).
- Lay your requests before God in the morning, and at set times. Scripture repeatedly mentions that we should start our day with prayer. This is an easy way to start with your children. Noon is also mentioned in Scripture, which is easy to remember at mealtimes. Evening is also mentioned, which is easy to do at bedtime with your children. The people of Israel have traditionally taken their requests to God at set times each day, often corresponding to meals or to times of sacrifice in the Temple. This is a wonderful study to do with your children, as well as looking in Scripture to see how the apostles followed this example (Acts 3:1, for instance). (Here are examples.) Finally, it’s traditional to pray blessings over your spouse and children on each Sabbath. This is a special weekly memory (that often makes me teary-eyed!).
- Talk about how God has answered prayer (and tell it to several generations). Keep a journal. Record your specific requests, promises from Scripture, and ways God has answered. Set times on your calendar to review the journal, and continue doing this throughout your lifetime, with all your generations.
- Show your children (by your example) that you go to God when you’re weak, in need, having trouble, anxious, sick, etc. I am learning that it is helpful to our children to hear us pray out loud when we have a need. Use your hands when you pray. “Lift up holy hands” and “lay hands on” your children or on those in need.
- Don’t forget to include thankfulness. It’s easy to remember to pray for our worries, but harder to remember to thank God for His goodness, even when we can’t see His direct answers to prayer. In times of fear and danger, praying verses and songs of praise to God can alleviate nervous feelings. Singing is an excellent way to “pray” our thankfulness to God. Here is one song we like, although we sing it much faster with our children.
- Intercede for others (leaders, the unsaved, the “king,” those whom God has laid on your hearts). Have a basket on your table, with note-card reminders and photographs of people whom you can pray for each day. Keep a small journal in your purse, or an app on your phone, so that when others (at church or out-and-about) ask you to pray, you’ll remember to actually do it.
- Read biographies of missionaries, preachers, and historical figures, and discuss how prayer influenced their life and work. You can assign books to your children to read independently, but reserve at least some for reading out loud together, as a family, so that you can learn together, cry together, and discuss together. One book we liked was Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, as well as any book on the life of George Mueller. We also enjoyed Missionary Stories with the Millers, by Mildred A. Martin.
- Do a study of biblical characters who made requests of God. What did they request, and how did God respond? Make a notebooking page for each one, and bind them into a keepsake journal.
- Study prayer in the Scriptures, especially in the book of Psalms. Be sure to include prayers of praise and thanksgiving. Here’s a topic to study: “When does God not answer prayer?”
- As women, our covered heads (1 Corinthians 11:1-16) are a visual reminder to pray, both to ourselves and to our children.
Highly Recommended Resources:
- Understanding The Purpose And Power Of Prayer, by Myles Munroe.
- Creative Family Times: Practical Activities for Building Character, by Allen & Connie Hadidian and Will & Lindy Wilson, chapter 6.
- Leading Little Ones to God: A Child’s Book of Bible Teachings, by Marian Schoolland, part 12.
- Polished Cornerstones, by Pam Forster, pp. 273-284.
- Plants Grown Up, by Doorposts, pp. 285-294.
Next time we’ll talk about how to use music to stir up great conversations about God.