Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
If there is one thing that should you do for your children it is this: help them to know God and become followers of Christ. That is the bottom line.
This is an incredibly exciting task for us as parents. We have a unique opportunity to shape our world by helping our children get to know God and live for Him. In Proverbs 22:6 it says “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
That is what we have before us as parents, regardless of the age of our children: help them to know God and become followers of Christ.
But what does this really mean? What does it really look like to help our children know God and become followers of Christ? How do we do practically do this?
Over the next two posts, I’d like to suggest five practices that we could put in place in our personal and family lives to help this happen. These thoughts are drawn from my message this past Sunday at Brooklife Church, “Jumpstart Your Family.”
Practice 1: Live for God ourselves.
There is an old saying that you cannot take someone to a place you have not been yourself. As parents, the most foundational way that we can raise our children in the instruction of the Lord is to live for God ourselves.
We have to start this discussion of godly parenting by aiming to live fully for God ourselves – filled up and controlled by His Spirit and nothing else. That’s what Paul meant when he said: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
How are we at daily living for God? Here are a couple of things to consider?
Do you pray regularly?
Do you read the Bible regularly?
Do you serve others around you regularly?
Are you living with a moment-by-moment awareness of God?
If so, you are on the way toward modeling for your children what living for God is all about.
Practice 2: Pray for our children.
When Kelly and I were newly married without children we were friends with a couple in our church who had six children. They were an outstanding family whose children had begun to really grab ahold of living for God.
Once, when we were visiting with them, Kelly and I asked what their secret formula was for raising their children. We were hoping for a five-step game-plan for perfect children. We didn’t really get that. Instead, along with some helpful advice on discipline and other things, we were given some simple advice: pray together for your children.
That is the advice that I would like to pass along to everyone here. If you really want to see your children live for God then pray for them. Your best efforts will only go so far. But when you pray, you begin to unleash God’s power into the lives of your children.
Pray that God would get ahold of their hearts at an early age.
Pray that God would protect them from the temptations of this world, the flesh, and the devil.
Pray that God would give you wisdom beyond yourself to parent them.
Practice 3: Pray and read the Bible as a family.
Take time to read the Bible together and pray. If you want your children to learn about God, you will need to introduce them to God.
One of the best ways to introduce your children to God is by reading the Bible out loud and praying together about what was read.
There are many different ways to do this as a family. Praying together before meals is a simple way to do this together. It is a chance for us to actually recognize that the simple gift of food comes to us from God.
Another way is to read the Bible together at a set time in the day. When our kids were younger, we would do this before heading out to work and school in the morning. As time has gone on, that has become unrealistic for our schedule.
At this stage of our lives, we read a story from an age-appropriate Bible each night after dinner and pray briefly about it.
Some families like to do this at the end of the day. Find a time to do this that fits your schedule, your children’s schedule, and your stage of life.
It will likely look different at different times.
[Visit the Renovate blog tomorrow for the second half of this post.]