Remember when I introduced a series on teaching our kids to pray? Well, as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve barely written a word on it.
Ideas are scribbled on paper scraps. Thoughts are scrawled in my journal, but none of those ideas have made it to the computer screen.
I couldn’t put my finger on my hesitation, but I think I’ve identified what’s been stopping me: fear.
I’m not worried about writing a perfect post. Rather, I was hung up on the notion that if I shared some great ideas, suggested some helpful resources, or tried to guide our understanding of prayer in kids, some of us might think we’ve found our formula. You know,
if I implement these ideas,
if I teach my kids what to say,
if I do x, y, or z,
my children will be prayer experts: they will find favor with God, they will get all they ask for, and all of their dreams will come true.
Because haven’t we looked at prayer that way at one time or another?
Haven’t we wondered why God didn’t answer our prayer when we prayed faithfully?
But God is not a cosmic gumball machine. We can’t just drop in our prayer coins and expect the prize to drop out.
Prayer is not superstition: everything will go wrong since I spent 13 minutes praying instead of the full 15 to which I committed…
Prayer is a relationship. It comes out of a desire to know and talk with our God.
“A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God” (Leonard Ravenhill, as quoted in Lara William’s To Walk or Stay, emphasis mine).
Are we hungry for God? Like so many aspects of parenting, our kids will not learn how to pray by us simply telling them what to do.
Andrew Murray, who has written prolifically on prayer, writes:
“It is the business of a minister to train believers up to a life of prayer; but how can a leader do this, if he himself understands little the art of conversing with God, and of receiving from the Holy Spirit, every day, out of Heaven, abundant grace for himself and for his work? A minister cannot lead a congregation higher than he is himself. He cannot with enthusiasm point out a way, or explain a work, in which he is not himself walking or living.
“How many thousands of Christians there are who know next to nothing of the blessedness of prayer fellowship with God!” (Andrew Murray, The Prayer Life, emphasis mine)
Friends, these words are not true only for the minister; they are true for us, too: the parents!
The fundamental premise of Murray’s book is that prayer is the fruit of our abiding in Christ. When you get right down to it, our prayerlessness is not a lack of prayer, it is a lack of abiding.
The best way to teach your kids to pray is to model a life of prayer, and it all starts with abiding in Christ.
To paraphrase Murray’s words, how many thousands of Christian parents there are who know next to nothing of the blessedness of prayer fellowship with God!
Oh that we might delight ourselves in the Lord!
Develop the inner life of prayer by Abiding in Christ
We can not teach our kids to pray if we are not abiding in Christ and praying ourselves.
Friends, we must develop the inner life!
The first step in teaching our children to pray is to learn ourselves to abide in Christ. Prayer is a result of abiding. There is not some magic formula or complicated process — it is seeking Jesus and sticking close to Him.
Do we want a deep and personal prayer life? Do we want to know and model the blessedness of prayer fellowship with God? It starts with abiding.
Friend, let’s stay close to Jesus.
Question for You:
What is keeping you from abiding in Jesus? Have you started well but drifted? What do you think is causing the drift and what can you do to get back and stick with Jesus?