4 Surefire Ways to Tame Your Child’s Prayer Life

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Kids will pray about anything and everything, if you let them. My 5-year old son often prays for the napkins, the windows, his arms, his friends, gas stations, the neighbors, his soon to be born little sister, and anything else that pops into his imagination. Sometimes it’s just downright silly, childish, and unrealistic. I laugh often (out loud), and several times I’ve wanted to correct him or cut him off. But, I have to remind myself that one of the biggest barriers standing in the way of my son’s growing prayer life is me.

My own prayers are anything but silly, childish, and unrealistic. I can’t have my kids praying silly, unrealistic prayers. I’m a pastor for goodness sakes. It’s important that I set a good example, especially for my own children, right? When I think this way, I can’t help but realize I’m no different than the disciples in Mark 10 who were rebuked by Jesus for turning away the children. 

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  (Mark 10:13-14)

“Let the children come to me,” he says. Parents do a great disservice to their children when they hinder them from bringing their childlike faith to Jesus. We should be the greatest encouragement to them for coming to God with big, unrealistic prayers. Without knowing it, we can tame our children’s prayers and actually hindering them in their faith.

Here are 4 surefire ways to tame your child’s prayer life:

1. Only Pray at Dinner and Bedtime. 
A great way to put prayer in a box is to only pray with your kids at the dinner table and bedtime. These are great times to pray and establish consistency in your day, but they can’t be the “main event” of your kid’s prayer lives. Don’t think of prayer times solely as blocks on your calendar. Prayer times should pop up all over the place throughout your day. They don’t have to be long or complicated, just intentional. When you think about it, these opportunities are all around you and your kids everyday:

  • Ask them to pray for you when you get a headache
  • Pray for the sick when you drive past hospitals
  • Pray together after arguments and fights between siblings
  • Take a prayer walk around the block or at a park and pray for your neighbors or God’s creation
  • While coloring or making crafts, thank God for creating colors
  • Pray and thank God for His love when your child shows love to someone else
  • When you or your child gets frustrated, ask God for peace
  • Pray when when you leave the house and when you arrive home
  • Randomly ask your kids what they want to tell God, and then pray that together

2. Tell Them What to Say.
Another mistake I often make is telling my kids exactly what to say in their prayers. It’s important they learn their own prayer language, and not just repeat what mom and dad say. Giving our children cookie-cutter prayer statements can go a long way in hindering them coming to God with their own childlike faith. While they hopefully will pick up on some of the things we pray, and we should encourage this, it’s also good to start off with asking them a question.

  • What is on your mind?
  • What are you worried about?
  • What do you want to tell God?
  • What do you think God is like?
  • Who can we pray for today?

These are all great questions to get kids thinking and encouraged to share their own thoughts, cares, struggles, and desires with God.

3. Discourage the Supernatural
Children have a greater capacity for imagination than their parents. If adults prayed with the same imagination as kids, how different would our prayers be? We don’t worship and serve a natural God, but we often pray prayers void of supernatural hope. God can heal. God can deliver. God can change hearts. God forgives. When we discourage our children from praying unrealistic prayers, we are telling them that God isn’t powerful enough, His love isn’t great enough, and His grace doesn’t change things. There are things we don’t understand, and that’s okay. Encourage wild, hopeful prayers. Encourage prayers that don’t make sense in this world. Ask for God to move in supernatural ways.

4. Never Model It
A surefire way to tame your child’s prayer life is to never let them see or hear you pray. My son learned how to say, “You got to be kidding me!” when he’s frustrated not because I taught him but because he’s heard me say that very same thing over and over. Kids pick up on these things, whether we want them to or not. If prayer is never modeled it will never be repeated. Give your kids a vision of a prayer life, because without it, pettiness will prevail. Let them see you pray with your spouse, with other friends, in public spaces, at church gatherings, when good things happen, and when bad things happen.

Don’t be the biggest barrier standing in the way of your child’s growing prayer life. It might require a great cultural shift in your home, but it will be one the best shifts you could ever make. I pray that I never again hinder my child from coming to Jesus.

Have you experienced any of these, in good or bad ways? What else would you add to these ways of taming our kid’s prayers?

photo credit: Marian Trinidad

Merry Christmas

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A Christmas letter to you:

by RyanTate
(download pdf version with pictures)

before the wisemen,
before the star,
before the shepherds and the angels,
before mary and joseph,
before bethlehem,
before the prophecies and the promises,
before it all,
a Son told a Father that he would go,
and because he came
we rejoice.

it’s been a long year, but a fast one too. we are expecting another tater tot in april and we’re certain life won’t slow down anytime soon. so it’s all the more important that we stop each day to rejoice.

will you rejoice with us?

we often stop and put on worship music in the house. the kids jump and dance and drum and flip and sing. we are raising little ones who love to rejoice.

will you rejoice with us?

joy is the supernatural by-product of a right relation with God. it’s not about being happy or sad; good or bad; up or down; this or that. it’s about knowing you’re His. we’ve learned that this year, more than ever. before it all, Jesus said He would come for us. we are His. what a great reason to rejoice.

will you rejoice with us?

rejoice in the Lord always, and again i say rejoice.

from our family to yours, merry Christmas & happy new year

The Church: Leading a Family

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In the Verge Network video below, Dhati Lewis shares, “What type of leaders are we training? We spend most of our time training people to lead systems, and not lead people, to lead structures. I really believe when we talk about incarnational leadership, we must have the same affection, the same compassion that we have for our kids when we talk about the people in our church.”

FUEL FOR THOUGHT…

What are the primary expressions of leadership in your church community?

How do those expressions communicate God’s desires for His people?

Even if just for a moment.

A good friend of mine was sitting on the couch in his living room. There were a few people over at his house for a little get-together. It wasn’t much of a party, just a few friends and family mingling, talking, and listening to music.

He sat there on his couch watching his little two and half year old son zig-zag through the guests with what seemed like an infinite amount of energy and spunk. 

There were a few people over in the corner talking and his son went over to check them out. The boy noticed one of them was holding a guitar. He stared at it, and then looked up at the man. He smiled and began strumming his own imaginary guitar. Those huddled in the corner laughed and told him to, “rock on!” 

The boy seemed satisfied as he turned and ran away. His father, watching the entire interaction from the couch, tried to get his son’s attention but the boy ran over to the opposite side of the room. 

There he found a few of the guests huddled around a table of refreshments. The boy raised up on his tip-toes while clutching the edge of the table. His eyes were on level with the plate of cookies perfectly within reach. His father looked on from a distance wondering if his son would reach up and grab one. Sure enough, his little arm stretched out and snatched one. 

The boy shoved the whole cookie in his mouth, wasting no time with bites. 

My friend sat silently watching his son but desperately wanted him to come sit on his lap. He wanted to hold him and ask him how the cookie tasted, but his son was distracted and didn’t notice his father. He quickly ran out of the living room and out of sight. 

It didn’t take long before he bolted back into the room. Now, however, he was holding his Superman action figure and flying him around the room making the flying noises that all little boys make when they are two years old.

My friend called out to his son but he didn’t hear him.

He called out again.

But his son wasn’t listening.

His son didn’t even know he was there, sitting and watching his every move.

My friend smiled at his son. A great joy welled up within him. If only he would come over here and let me hug him. If only he would slow down and let me hold him for just a second. If only. 

And it was at that very moment my friend realized he was no different from his little boy. He too had been distracted and preoccupied by others and interested in anything and everything but stopping to sit and be held by his Father. 

God had been watching him too.

Calling out to him.

Finding great joy in His son.

Watching his every move.

But desperately wanting him to come and sit with Him.

Even if just for a moment.

 

What are you distracted with today that is keeping you from spending time with God, or realizing that he is right there with you, watching you, and finding great joy in you?  

 

 

Full-Time, Full-Time Ministry

The Calling.

The calling in my life has always been clear.

There has never been a doubt that God called me to be in full-time ministry. However, I always thought my ministry included having a full-time job in the business world.

On March 1st, though, I am stepping out of my employment as a quality engineer at a electronics manufacturer and will be going full-time in full-time ministry with my church.

Over the past two years I’ve felt God preparing me for something big and I kept asking, “What is it God? What are you preparing me for? Where do you want me, where do you want my family? Where are you leading us?”

A lot of things were changing and stirring inside of me. I started writing a lot and wondering whether or not God wanted me to be a writer. I started questioning whether or not God wanted me to quit my job and be self-employed. Ultimately, I realized God was strengthening my already existing passion for full-time ministry.

Usually when a person feels a clear call to full-time ministry the logical next step is to put together a resume of sorts, look for church communities that are hiring, and pray for God to open up an opportunity. That wasn’t what God was telling me to do.

I have been fully invested in my local church community, Mosaic NEO, for the past six and a half years. The calling to serve at Mosaic is not what God wants to change. What I realized is that God wasn’t calling me into something new but He was calling out of somethingGod was asking me to surrender and trust in Him.  

God was calling me out of my job and I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life.

The next chapter.

The community of Mosaic has been operating for more than six years with only one full-time staff person, our lead pastor. Because the community has grown over the years and our staff hasn’t we’ve felt the growing pains in many different ways. Just a few of those pains were felt in the areas of:

  • Leadership development
  • Discipleship
  • Administration/Organization
  • Accountability

This next chapter of my life will be centered around equipping, empowering, and unleashing the community of Mosaic in these areas and more. I am excited for what God is going to do in and through our community with the advancement of His kingdom. Having a front row seat to what God is doing in people’s lives is what excites me the most.

God’s people must not only believe in the love and grace of God, but also be armed with God’s love and grace. I am ready to surrender to Him in the arming of His people.

The prayer of my heart.

It is difficult to write about myself and what I’m doing because the desire of my heart is for God’s glory to be on display. The prayer of my heart for my small little community in northeast Ohio is the same prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

- Ephesians 3:14-21

What is God preparing you for? What is the calling of your life? Are you doing it?