“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” – Proverbs 22:6.
Raising children is a challenge. It is a daunting task to turn children into radically committed, risk-taking, countercultural, wise, thinking, loving, mature, God-loving Christians in today’s culture. Yet, that is what we are asked to do. God calls every generation of Christians to teach the newer generation to embrace God.
The strongest way parents can keep God’s word is by leading their children by example. It is a well-known fact that children learn through observation of others, oftentimes their parents. Your children will learn what you model for them. So, if you want your child to have a strong relationship with God, you need to also have a strong relationship with God. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22).
If you hope your children will follow Jesus, they should be able to see you following Jesus. Ask for their forgiveness when you sin against them. Teach them that making a mistake doesn’t result in condemnation but is an opportunity for restoration and growth. Make sure that the way you discipline yourself and them, reflect the redemption we are offered in Christ. Let them see you study the scriptures and pray for guidance.
Love them unconditionally: Just as our children learn by example, so do we. When it comes to loving our children, we should love unconditionally as God loves us unconditionally. That means there is nothing they can do to lose your love; you do not withhold your love because of something they did or said. When your child knows you have this unconditional love for them, it forges a trust between you and them.
And pray with them. We pretty much know how to pray for our children (and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and so on). “Keep them safe.” “Heal their hurts.” “Show them the way.” We pray for their growth in faith and grace. But do we pray with our children? Teach your children how to pray by praying with them. Sit down with them every day, and pray with them about their lives and your loved ones’ lives. Pray favor over them in their lives, and that God will show His love to your children every day. Including your children in these prayers can help them learn about God’s nature.
The prayer Jesus taught His disciples (see Luke 11) asks for bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from temptation. Daily needs. Real life. Follow His lead and pray about each day’s needs and deeds: appointments, errands, work time, playtime, etc.
And pray what’s really on your mind and in your heart. C. S. Lewis said we must learn to “lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.” So share your feelings, desires, hopes, and dreams when you pray with your child.
- In what ways are you living out your faith within your family today? How are you loving God in your home now? What are some ways that you could improve the way you live out your faith in your family?