My parents took me to church in my early days, and God saved me in 1976 and continued to lead me to read His Word, and put other Christians in my life to pray for and encourage me in my walk with Him.
In spite of me, God has been faithful to bring me through much to a life of precious intimacy, freedom, and power with Him. I praise Him that, because of His goodness in never giving up on me, my four-year-old daughter has benefited from my spiritual walk since before she was born.
(Note from Tonja: It was 2001 when I wrote this article, but my daughter Victoria is now 17 and is embracing and fulfilling the Ephesians 2:10 Plan God has for her!)
The time is short; The King is coming, and our nation needs God. The recent terrorist attack against America reinforces the need and call for us to draw even closer to Him, and to raise our children to walk in His marvelous light, that they may serve as His instruments to bring this hurting world to Christ.
God commands us to train up our children in His way (Proverbs 22:6). There are three powerful ways I have found that He tells us to do this: Pray, Praise, and Proclaim.
PRAY. Paul says to “pray without ceasing,”(I Thes. 5:17) and I believe that we must teach our kids that they can talk to the Lord anytime, anywhere, about anything—just as we want them to be able to trust and talk to us.
There are times for on-our-knees prayer, and I’m teaching my daughter to pray at all times, about “everything,” as soon as the need is mentioned--including the fact that we can respectfully pray with our eyes open as we drive down the road, or walk. God is, after all, a practical Parent Who loves us! (As I have told MANY people through the years, I thank Him that He is NOT a legalist, or NONE of us would make it to Heaven!)
1. Upon rising (Ps 5:3). While my little one bows her head, I pray that God will keep us safe from the enemy, and bless us with a good day.
2. Before every meal, even—and especially in—restaurants. We thank Him for the food, remembering aloud that many people have none and He gives us plenty, and we ask Him to bless it to nourish us and to protect us from any harm in it.
3. For a major concern—such as the terrorist attack September 11, 2001. As we watched the live broadcast of the fall of the second tower, we talked about those who were killed without Jesus being in hell forever, and those who know Him being in Heaven. We begged God to turn this nation back to Him.
4. When someone doesn’t feel well. There have been a few times I’ve asked my daughter to pray for me because I didn’t feel very well, and I’ll never forget when she bowed her little head and prayed, “Oh, Jehovah Rapha! Please heal my mama…” How sweet to the spirit and soul!
5. Even the “smallest” concern—for our loving Heavenly Father is truly concerned with every detail of our lives, and He’s never too busy or tired to listen. This was hard for me to understand until He gave me a child and taught me more of His unconditional love.
6. Pray in your prayer language to God (I Cor. 14:15). We must remember, as a singles group leader said, “We are spiritual beings having human experiences.” We are seated in Heavenly realms, and praying in the Spirit should be as “natural” as praying in English.
Don’t let the enemy tell you it will scare your kids; the first time I prayed in tongues in front of my daughter, she listened intently, smiled, and said, “I like that!” She should—as young as she is, it’s probably more “natural” to her than everyday talk! She didn’t ask questions about it, she just accepted it. We adults should have such faith!
7. Before going to sleep. I prayed for my daughter before she was born. Once she arrived, Since before my daughter was born, I would pray over her while I rocked her, as she fell asleep.
One night when my baby had just turned 3, I thought she was asleep, and rose to put her in bed. She raised her head, full of soft blond hair, and said, “Don’t stop pwayin’ Mama!” I was surprised and delighted—she HAD been listening!
Although at first I didn’t know what else to pray, soon things forth from deep in my heart, and I sobbed and cried and felt great release. I don’t know how long it lasted, but my baby was asleep during most of it—and the Lord did a great healing in me. He always knows!
Children are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and we must be sensitive to God working through them! Now when we pray, my little one will join in with requests of her own, or say, “Yes!” in agreement.
Praising—thanking—the Lord for His faithfulness, goodness, and mercy to us! I’ve developed the habit of thanking our Father and His angels aloud for each safe trip, as we pull in the drive.
(There have been many trips that would have ended in harm to the car, to us, or both, were it not for God’s angels. And most of the time, it’s not due to my bad driving!)
1. We praise Him every time we hear good news and every time we otherwise get an answer to prayer for us, or for another.
2. I praise Him aloud in front of my little one, when I get up in the morning, thanking Him for the beautiful day—even if it’s raining.
3. We praise Him continuously as we sing along with the praise music I have playing almost every moment we are at home, and in the car (Jud 5:3, Ps 7:17, 9:2, Ps 34:1! And we praise Him spontaneously in dance, and shouting, and clapping of hands—just like we do at our church.
We praise Him especially when we’re listening to praise and worship music (which, by the way, except for a couple of CDs with carefully-screened songs on them, is the ONLY music I allow in our house!).
Often, we praise the Lord in dance as well as words. My daughter’s favorite stuffed animals often join us.
4. Speaking thanksgiving aloud, bragging on God and how GOOD He is, or has been to us in a certain event, is another excellent way to cultivate a continuous attitude of worship. The Lord inhabits and delights in the praise of His people. (verse)
As we admire His handiwork in nature (Ps 89:5
PROCLAIM. First thing in the mornings, I put on my spiritual armor in front of my daughter, thanking God and proclaiming aloud that it is a defense God gives us against the enemy.
I also proclaim aloud each piece, and make the motions as I put it on. A few months after I started this, my baby began to tell me every morning that she’d put hers on while she was still in bed. And she rarely fails to remind me every morning to put on my spiritual armor!
1. Also, as we are in the car leaving the driveway every morning, I proclaim aloud, “No weapon formed against us shall prosper, in the Name of Jesus!” I did this for several months. I said it one morning, and my little one asked, “Mama, are you talking to the devil?”
I told her I was talking to both God and the enemy--proclaiming my faith that God was protecting us from the devil’s attack, and proclaiming to the evil one that he had no power over us, because of Jesus.
I also stressed—as I do at every opportunity, that WE in ourselves can do NOTHING against the enemy, but that it’s only by the power, blood, and name of Jesus that we have power over the evil one! And we DO have that power!
2. THE WORD! I repeat Bible verses every chance I can—read them from the posting on the bathroom mirror, from her “little pink book” that I keep in the bathroom and read to her as she bathes.
Sometimes, she is not in the mood to repeat them, so I’ll say, “That’s OK, I’ll bet your (toy) is. Mr. Duck, would you please help me?” And often ,Mr. Duck, in my daughter’s voice, will eagerly repeat the verses.
If that doesn’t work, I just say, “That’s OK, I’m going to read them out loud anyway. The devil HATES to hear the Word of God, cause it’s just like Jesus speaking, and He has to obey!”
It used to bother me that I couldn’t always get her to repeat them, till God showed me that I was still planting spiritual seeds and clearing the atmosphere of evil irritants by honoring Him through speaking His Word!
The other day at church, my daughter saw a girl slightly older whom she’d not seen before. She immediately went up and asked her if she had Jesus in her heart! Truly, “I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth!”
(When my daughter was 10, I had to correct her about something, and did it with the Word of God. After a couple minutes, she smiled at me and said, “Mama, I’m glad I’m growing up like this!”)
3. Also, you can make Verse puzzles. Make your own by choosing favorite verses. Write them in markers on brightly-colored construction paper (my daughter and I like neon brights). Cut each word into a rectangle. Turn over, mix up, let the child(ren) put them in order, as you say and point to each word.
4. Make up your own Scripture songs. Little ones (no matter how old—from 1 to 100!) love to sing. God CREATED us to sing praise to Him.
We WANT our children to grow up in an atmosphere of continual praying, praising, and proclaiming the Lord—after all, this earthly life is meant to PREPARE THEM FOR HEAVEN!
It is our responsibility and privilege (there is a duty!) to point our children to Christ in everything they do, everything they say. We are, after all, called to be “Christ-like ones,” to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
Verse references for you: Ex 20,19; Gen 18:27,31, Num 22:35, Psm 145:5, Is 28:11, Is 52:6, Jer 26:2,8, Zech 8:15, Eph 4:25, John 3:11, John 8:38, Acts 4:20, I Cor 14:19, ! Cor 14:21, 2 Cor 4:13
Enjoy, and remember that there’s nothing more precious than the life-giving Word of God!