Children don’t seem to have any trouble talking to God. This natural communication with God is called prayer, but it is really a conversation. Like in any relationship, sometimes we do all the talking and sometimes we need to just be quiet and listen.
Prayer is where their faith in God becomes personal. First, a young child hears a parent praying about them and for them. As they get older, the child begins to form his or her own prayers, usually yours as an example. There will come a time when your child’s prayers will be exclusively between him or her and God. This is their individual relationship with God. You can point the way but you cannot conduct your child’s prayer life. You can, however, support your child’s prayer life. Your child needs to be given the tools to learn to pray in all circumstances.
Does your child just hear you pray at the table over food? Or when you’re called on at church? Do they hear you stop and pray during a difficult situation? Again, children take their lead from their parents and the adults around them. If prayer is a vital, integral part of your life, your child will see it and emulate it. You’ll be watching a love affair take root that will outlast their childhood, into eternity.
Spiritual development establishes the context through which your child becomes God’s champion in this world. God’s work is on a spiritual level. Granted, He does a great many things in the physical realm, but His ultimate purposes are spiritual ones. This earth is on a short leash and it’s not going to be here forever, but we will, and God’s Word will.
Isaiah 40:8 and 1 Peter 1:25 clearly says the Word of the Lord lasts forever, and we know we, as humans, are eternal beings. We’re going to last and the Word of God is going to last. The things that last are the things worth fighting for. The things that last are what God designs champions for.
Your home is basically a Bible boot camp. It’s where your little champion for God is being trained for battle. Is your boot camp a state-of-the-art spiritual training facility or do the bunks sag and have weeds grown up the cracks in your training ground? If so, it’s time to get your training camp in shape for the important work of spiritually molding your champion. First, you’ll need to take stock of your supplies:
- What sort of Bibles do you have? Are they age appropriate?
- Where are the Bibles right now? Our in the open, ready for use, or stashed away in a drawer until the next time you manage to get to church?
- Do you use the everyday opportunities of life to reinforce spiritual lessons?
- Are your children encouraged and commended for their growing faith?
- Is more attention paid to their social, academic, or athletic accomplishments than their spiritual ones?
- Are your children getting to church on a regular basis so others can also teach your child about their faith in and reliance upon God and Christ?
- Who has the most influence over the family? Is it church, work, friends, hobbies, activities?
I encourage you to evaluate the training ground that is your home, from the point of view of raising up a champion of God. Make a list of areas you know have deficiencies. Speak with your spouse or extended family and ask them to do the same. Come up with a list of areas you want to change.
Spiritual lessons are not meant to be total classroom learning; they are also meant to be “field exercises.” Be strategic in how you plan your day and where you introduce the changes. Integrate them into your being and allow them to flow naturally from your own relationship with God.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.