I’ve found in a new season I get really focused on new goals. I either want to improve an area I feel needs more direction or discipline, or I want to add something that I think may improve my life. But it is also really easy to set a goal and get distracted by the demands of my everyday life and watch those big ambitious plans fall by the wayside. I am not here to tell you resolutions are bad, but in a season of setting new habits and rhythms I want to invite you into a habit that’s worth pursuing for you and your family: communing with Jesus every day.
Why is this important? Because God wants to be in a relationship with us! Knowing facts about someone doesn’t mean you are in a relationship with them. I know a lot of facts about Taylor Swift, but that doesn’t mean we are friends in real life. The same is true of God. What does a real relationship look like? It involves spending time together, talking, listening, and enjoying being together.
So how can we spend time with God? Where does he promise to meet us? Prayer and in His Word. In order to think through how we can pass this along to our children, let’s do a quick deep-dive into the gifts, promises, and a few how-tos in both of these daily practices.
Practice #1: Prayer
How do I explain and model prayer to my child? In order to explain prayer to your concrete little thinkers, take a moment to think about what prayer really is. Question #38 of the New City Catechism asks that very question:
Q: “What is prayer?”
A: “Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin, and thanksgiving.”
You may be thinking to yourself, “How do I even begin to know how to model prayer for my kids?” Good news, parents! While we need to model prayer for our kiddos, Jesus modeled prayer for all of us in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13. He patiently shows us how to approach God, praising Him for who He is, asking Him for what you need, sharing where you know you’ve fallen short, and asking for His deliverance from sinful temptations. We can look to His model of prayer for us as we try to pass that to our children! You could even start by memorizing the prayer together as a family.
When I am teaching abstract concepts to children, a great place to start is by defining terms. What do the words petition, thanksgiving, confession, and praise mean? Once the terms are clear, you can ask your little one to think about an example for each section of that definition. Children are incredible learners, and once they demonstrate a mastery over a concept, they usually jump at a chance to participate and even lead. Once they’ve begun to understand what these things mean and you draw out their participation, it will be such a joy to participate in prayer together as a family every day.
Practice #2: Time in God’s Word
Can I admit something to you? Sometimes I can feel lost in God’s Word. I went on a hike not long ago and my friend and I did the trail backwards. In the big picture, I knew where I was (Nashville, near my church, Percy Warner Park), but I didn’t know where I was on the trail. I didn’t feel confident. Sometimes the Bible can feel like this too. I know it’s all God’s Word and it is all true, but I don’t always feel confident going forward. So why should we spend time in God’s Word every day?
1. God reveals Himself to us in His Word and displays His big plan of redemption to us there as well! As as you spend more time in God’s Word, you will grow more and more familiar with who God reveals Himself to be and how He cares for His people. We will learn to recognize the Great Shepherd’s voice in the Scripture!
2. Helps us have victory over sin. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
3. Scripture is a comfort and counsel to ourselves and others. Psalm 23 is a great place to start memorizing Scripture with your children, and it is a clear example of comfort and counsel from God found in Scripture. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Parents, it’s so much easier to model this for your own children when you are already doing it yourself. I’m reminded of how, just before take-off, the flight staff on a plane always tells adults to put on their oxygen mask before helping anyone else. When you are spending time in prayer and in God’s Word, you will be able to model and instruct your children out of an overflow of knowing and loving Jesus yourself. You don’t have to be perfect, but spending time in God’s Word and prayer will be the greatest ingredient for modeling and teaching your kids to do it.