Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Remedy For My Perfectionism

This post is a continuation of a series.  Here are links to the previous posts:
                        How Do I Measure Up As A Christian Mother?
                        The Slippery Slope of Perfectionism
                        The Source of My Perfectionism

So what is the answer?  How can I remedy this negative pattern of perfectionism and discouragement?  How can I stand up under this assault and not be overcome?

The answer is printed plainly in God's Word.   Ephesians 6:16 says to "take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one."  At the core of my perfectionism is a lack of faith in God.  Satan sees this weakness and exploits it, attacking my efforts to disciple my children. 

Photo:  Microsoft Images

With greater faith, I can overcome perfectionism and discouragement.  To strengthen my shield of faith, I started reading scriptures about trusting God.  What I found time and again is that faith in God is linked to rejoicing (the very opposite of the despair I feel from the burden of perfectionism).  Let me share some of my favorite examples:

   But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Photo: Microsoft Images
   Let them ever sing for joy;
   And may You shelter them,
   That those who love Your name may exult in You. 
          -Psalm 5:11

  But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
  My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 
          -Psalm 13:5

  The Lord is my strength and my shield;
     my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
  My heart leaps for joy,
     and with my song I praise him. 
          -Psalm 28:7

  For You have been my help,
  And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 
          -Psalm 63:7

   The righteous man will be glad in the Lord and will take refuge in Him;
   And all the upright in heart will glory. 
         -Psalm 64:10

In his book Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions, George Barna states, "In the end, one of  the greatest lessons you can learn is that raising spiritual champions is beyond your capabilities--but not beyond your personal responsibility."  God doesn't expect perfection from us.  Instead, He requires that we avoid the trap of discouragement and passivity.  It is our duty to guide our children's development of faith. If we follow Him, He fills in where we lack.  The process of spiritual training takes steadfast effort.  May God bless every minute we spend and every ounce of energy that we devote to leading our children closer to Him.

To conclude this series, my next post will dig deeper into the Bible to explore The Depth Of God's Love For My Children

Photo:  Christianphotos.net

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Source of My Perfectionism

This post is a continuation of a series about perfectionism.  
To catch up on the prior discussion, please read:

Photo:  happykatie
So where does this perfectionism come from?  What is the source?   The more accurate question is Who is the source? 

Throughout this series, these words "perfectionism" and "discouragement" come up again and again.  They sound rather benign.  They are not.  The Bible compares our Christian walk to the life of a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-4.)  We are in the midst of a spiritual war (Ephesians 6).   Let's acknowledge perfectionism for what it is--a tool of Satan designed to discourage.  The resultant feeling of despair is the exact opposite of the joy that is in God's presence (1 Chronicles 16:27, Galatians 5:22-23). 

The weapon of discouragement has the potential to stop us from moving in the direction we should be--closer to God and more reliant on Him.  Perfectionism and discouragement are potent forces that have the power to be destructive to my family.  When I allow it, feelings of despair bring God's plan for my children to a standstill.  Satan hates family.  He will use every possible angle to attack Christian families.

Photo:  Microsoft Images
At times, I feel unqualified to fight in this spiritual war.  But God will not desert me and send me into a losing battle without defenses.  The Bible provides us with specific instructions from the greatest General, the greatest Military Strategist.  He has a battle plan.  He knows the enemy and knows and His forces.  (After all, He created all of us.)  He knows how we can win.  He has told us the best way to fight.  We cannot expect to prevail for our children's spiritual futures if we are following our own flawed reasoning.

Our first efforts at discipling our children will not be perfect.  Becoming equipped for battle is not a one-time event.  Our preparation involves more than making a decision.  A soldier's training is a process that requires quality resources, training, mentoring, and communication with the Leader.   It is essential that we maintain consistent effort and perseverance--on a day-to-day basis--if we are to be equipped to fight.

God has inspired a beautiful verse for myself and fellow perfectionists:  " . . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things" (Philippians 4:8).  These are not the thoughts that tend to occupy the mind of a perfectionist.  God, in His graciousness, tells us that we are not to dwell on our shortcomings.

Yet it takes more than positive thinking to win the battle against perfectionism and discouragement.  I'll share more about how to win this battle in my next post The Remedy for My Perfectionism.

Photo:  Christianphotos.net

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Slippery Slope of Perfectionism

This post is a continuation of How Do I Measure Up As A Christian Mother?
Photo:  mikep

Sometimes in the "quest to get it right, we can feel defeated."  When I first read these words by Reggie Joiner (author of Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide...), they struck a familiar chord with me.  I feel that defeat more often than I should.  My own over-enthusiasm works against me and brings me to a place of failure.  My heart's desire to disciple my children crosses the line into perfectionism.  That perfectionism becomes a  stumbling block.

My inappropriate comparisons (which I shared in my last post) are the beginning step in a chain reaction that is counter-productive:


                    leads to DISCOURAGEMENT

                                        leads to INACTIVITY

                                                            leads to NEGLECTING MY SCRIPTURAL DUTY 
                                                                               TO GOD AND MY CHILDREN

What begins as innocent observations about other Christian families leads to my own crushed spirit and dried up zeal (Proverbs 17:22).
Photo:  Microsoft Images

When I view myself through the lens of perfectionism, it skews the truth of our family.  What is the truth?

The truth is . . .
God has chosen me--imperfect as I am--to implement His plan in my children's lives.  It doesn't matter that I am imperfect.  My children don't need a perfect mother.  They need perfect grace.  And God gives it to them freely.  It is not something I can provide for them, even if I could be the ideal Christian mother. 

Photo:  Microsoft Images
The truth is . . .
Spiritual transformation is not dependent on perfect parenting.  It requires the involvement of a living Almighty God. Discouragement and defeat result in a lack of positive action.  And when I choose the path of passivity, I cease being a tool that God can use in converting the hearts of my children.

The truth is . . .
To be the mother God wants me to be, I don't need to be perfect.  I simply need to love God and follow Him.  Even better than I do, God knows my weaknesses.  Yet He has given me this task.  He has confidence that discipleship can be accomplished.

Please join me for the next part of this series where I explore The Source of My Perfectionism.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

How Do I Measure Up As A Christian Mother?

This post will be the first of a series about one of the greatest barriers that I personally face in my endeavor to train my children in the Lord.  This is the beginning of a conversation, and I invite you to join in the discussion by commenting below or sending me an email. 

We have a high calling--one that is not for the faint of heart.  We are called to disciple our children, to teach them daily about God and His ways.  Scripture is very clear that the responsibility for our children's spiritual training rests squarely on our shoulders.  This is not an undertaking that can be delegated.  Yet many of us (myself included) feel inadequate to the task.

Today I want to share with you one of the largest roadblocks I face in discipling my children: 


Without intending to, I compare myself with other parents.  I envision a grandiose image of ideal Christian parenting and know I fall very short of that vision.
  • How often do I look at behavior of other children and lament the shortcomings in my own?   
  • How often do  I see a parent bringing God into everyday conversation with their child and feelings about my inadequacy surface?  
  • How often do I observe a parent exercising patience under pressure and feel the sharp pang of knowing my own failings?  
  • How often do I see a mother following through with her plan to systematically teach her children about God and begin to feel that my own efforts are inferior? 

Photo:  Microsoft Images

How often do I conjure up evidence that I just don't measure up as a Christian mother--all because I'm not perfect?  The honest answer is:  All too often.  The Bible sends parents a very strong message that we are responsible for our children's spiritual development (Gen. 18:19, Ex. 10:2Ex. 12:26-27, Ex. 13: 8 & 14, Deu. 4:9-10, Deu. 6:5-9, Deu. 11:19-21, Ps. 78:5-6, Is. 38:19, Joel 1:1-3, Eph. 6:4, Acts 2:38-39).  The interesting thing about these verses is that they in no way imply that  we need to be sinless in order to fulfill God's purpose in our families.  Being equipped for the task of Biblical parenting is not the same thing as being perfect.

Please join me in the next part of this journey where I describe the "Slippery Slope of Perfectionism" and how it affects my role as a Christian mother.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Take The Family Challenge!


The National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) is committed to equipping families and churches to pass on the faith to children.  Recently they announced an exciting new venture called The Family Challenge which is "part of a global initiative to motivate and train parents to be the primary spiritual trainers of their own children."

The Family Challenge is based on the Bible's emphasis on the family's role in spiritual formation.  As the website states, passing on our faith "doesn't happen automatically.  Just living in your home doesn't mean your kids are catching your faith.  God designed the family to be the place where spiritual values are passed on to kids.  You are the primary spiritual trainer of your child."  The Family Challenge will show you how to achieve this extraordinary goal. 

For Parents
To guide parents through the process, the "For Parents" section explains the 3 primary methods of spiritual training based on Deuteronomy 6:6-9:

         1. Build Relationship
         2. Share Scripture
         3. Practice Faith

You are encouraged to make a formal commitment to utilizing these 3 methods with your children each week.  Resources are suggested that can further help you in this process.

For Churches
The Family Challenge website also has a "For Churches" section.  Here you can learn about ways to enhance the family ministry in your Christian fellowship.  Four levels of family ministry are described in detail: 

          Level 1 - Provide engaging children and youth ministry
          Level 2 - Offer parent training programs
          Level 3 - Empower children and parents to learn, worship, and serve together
          Level 4 - Equip parents to take spiritual leadership in their homes

Each level includes Considerations and Where To Go From Here.  Additionally, there are corresponding resources available through NCBP or other experts in family ministry.  The Family Challenge also includes a link to request a free family ministry consultation.

Download the FREE e-book 
  The Family Challenge:  
Passing the Faith from Your Heart to Theirs

So . . . .Let's Take the Challenge!

Monday, April 16, 2012

How Resources Can Help Christian Parents Disciple Their Children

If you are a reader of my blog, you've probably noticed that I use a lot of resources.  Many of my ideas come from books, websites, or other blogs.  I love these resources!

Instilling God's truth, His character, and His love, in our children is no small task.  As parents and grandparents, God has given us a mission that will continually challenge us.  Yet it is a mission of utmost importance.

Many of us (myself included) struggle with how to effectively lead our children and grandchildren spiritually.  Whether we grew up in a Christian home or not, most likely we have never seen family discipleship modeled .  How do we go about impressing a child's heart with a love for God?  

Photo: Camilla Hoel
When we are in unfamiliar terrain--grappling with a perplexing new developmental stage our child is entering, making God central in our daily lives, finding a systematic approach to Biblical instruction, leading our children into a close relationship with God--resources have much to teach us.

Resources give me new ideas.  They inspire me.  They can provide step-by-step instruction.  Just seeing the book sitting on my desk reminds me to make the spiritual training of my children a priority.  The bottom line is that it's more likely to get done if I use a resource of some kind.

As parents, we all have strengths and limitations.  Resources enable me to compensate for those areas that don't come naturally to me.  For a quick example, one of my parenting strengths is providing structure.  You want me to be spontaneous?  Give me detailed instructions of exactly how to do that, and I’ll be as spontaneous as anyone. :)   I find resources that help me fill in for this weakness.  I find lists of questions, openings for spiritual discussions, “spontaneous” object lessons, and so on.  If you want to be more structured in your parenting, there are plenty of resources that can help with that also.

You are God's most important resource for your children's spiritual development.  It is not a chance occurrence that your child is in your family.  Perfect divine thought and intention is the reason you are together.  You have exactly what they need to prepare them for the Kingdom of God.  Let's trust God's amazing plans for our own lives and the lives of our children.  Let's equip ourselves so we can fulfill the wonderful purpose He has in mind for our families.

Interested in finding some quality resources and not sure where to start?  Be sure to check out my Resources page to see some of my favorites!  Looking for even more resources?  Click on the Resources and Reviews categories on the righthand sidebar.

Photo: D6 Family

Monday, April 2, 2012

9 Lessons Of Redemption: A Round-Up Of Links For Family Activities

Image:  Microsoft Images
Whether you observe the Passover or celebrate Easter, the themes of sin, sacrifice, grace, and redemption remain consistent during this season.  This week let's take a look at some of the wonderful resources for teaching our children about God's plan of salvation which shows His incredible love for mankind.  I've collected links to some of my favorite object lessons for this season and want to share them with you.

Knock Sin Out Of Our Lives by Family Time Training - Here is a visual representation of the basic gospel message that is sure to get your kids' attention!  If you've seen my workshop about Family Time Training, then you have seen this object lesson before.  I can attest that it keeps a roomful of people on the edges of their chairs!

Repentance Box by A Holy Experience - Are you wanting your children to really personalize what Christ's sacrifice means in their own lives?  This repentance box is a perfect way to teach how the confession of sins results in receiving God's grace.  Try this in your home, and give your children the experience of seeing their transgressions being blotted out (Isaiah 43:25). 

The Meaning of the Cross by "Uncle Maurice" - Using a penny, a candle, and colored water, Maurice creates a visual message of Christ taking on our sins and dying so that we may be saved.  Fire is always sure to get the attention of your children!

Repentance Object Lesson by MeckMom - With a $20 bill and 5 minutes, you can create a lasting impression in your child's mind about the effects of sin and our worth in God's eyes. 

Easter Week Family Night Activities by Kurt and Olivia Bruner - The video below explains two fantastic lessons for this week.  Though "Easter" is in the title, these lessons--which explain why we need the sacrifice of Jesus Christ--are also very applicable if you observe the Biblical Passover. 

One Sin by Mad About Jesus (Lesson 1) - Another wonderfully captivating object lesson that explains salvation through Jesus Christ using balloons and a candle.

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Mad About Jesus (Lesson 11) - This object lesson will take a little more preparation, but it's sure to leave an impression.  A narrated story accompanies this visual representation of the basic gospel message--sin and redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Be sure to take a look at the video so you can see this object lesson being performed. 

Choosing Good Friends by Your Life Uncommon - At the end of a lesson about friendship, this family took their object lesson one step further in order to illustrate atonement for our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Your kids will love watching their sins becoming "white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18).  All it takes is some pasta, red food coloring, bleach, and a few minutes of time. 

May God bless your family and your efforts to lead them to Him during this holy season!

Photo:  Microsoft Images
If you try any of these, please share your experience in the Comments.  We would love to hear how it worked for your family!

What are some of your favorite lessons to teach during this season?  (Please be sure to credit the sources if your ideas are not original.) 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring -- The Season Of Spiritual Renewal For Our Family

Photo: Jason Paluck
Spring is a universal symbol of renewal. It's the season of physical rebirth and surrounds us with new life.  It is also a common time when Christians take a step back, consider the state of their spiritual lives, and experience spiritual restoration.  We have begun the habit of carefully examining our entire family's spiritual health during this season.

Every spring we reflect on the past year, including spiritual growth and challenges.  We also look forward to the coming year, consider our spiritual needs, and plan a strategy to achieve new goals.  Spring is a beautiful time to inventory my family's spiritual development.  We try to gain a godly perspective by looking at the big picture and then compare it with where we are on our spiritual journey as a family.  This practice of annual analysis helps me focus on what is important and be intentional in the spiritual leadership of our family.

Here are some of the categories I evaluate and specific questions I ask each spring:

Each Child As An Individual
What growth has occurred for each of my children this past year?  Am I actively preparing them to be servants of our Lord?  What positive character traits do I see in my children?  How can I use these strengths as building blocks for their faith and further character development?  What are their character weaknesses?  What potential stumbling blocks lie ahead for them?  How can I prepare them for those challenges?

Photo:  Code Poet
Family practices
What new strategies for family worship and spiritual instruction have we tried?  What worked well?  What didn't work well?  Is there another way to try to achieve the same goal?  Was there a strategy that was working for us but was abandoned along the way?  Do we need to implement it again?  Am I providing my children with a solid foundation of Biblical understanding?

Do we participate in regular family worship of God in our home?  Are we praying together?  Are we going through the motions--treating family worship as something on our "to do" list--and missing the heart of worship?

Relationship with God
Is each family member growing in their relationship with God?  Are we neglecting praise?  Are we communicating with God through prayer?  Are we listening for his Spirit to speak to us?  Am I nurturing our children's heart connections with God?  Am I focusing on behavior and knowledge to the exclusion of impressing a love of God on the hearts of my children?  Or am I giving that mandate the daily attention it requires?

My Role As A Parent
How healthy is my personal spiritual life?  What am I modeling for my children?  Trying to look like the perfect Christian?  Or sharing the Christian journey of struggling with personal weaknesses, relying God in the face of real problems, and making spiritual growth a life priority?  Am I seeking God and allowing Him to lead my family?  Or am I seeking to take control by myself?

Photo:  Pink Sherbet Photography
Have I allowed Satan to discourage or distract me from my primary mission as a parent?  Am I making time for academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities while treating my children's spiritual development as an "extra" activity that is easily neglected?

After this evaluation, I decide what baby steps can I take when a change in direction is needed.  What small change can I make to align our current focus and routine with God's plan for our family?  I feel encouraged by Reggie Joiner's words in Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide...: "A little change in the rhythm of a family's time together can make a lasting impact on the heart of a child . . . . Most parents cannot do everything, but they can do something more.  That 'something' can make a huge difference in the life of the family and in the spiritual growth of a child." 

When I try new ways of leading my children spiritually, I often experience feelings of awkwardness.  The final questions I must ask myself are Am I willing to deal with my own feelings of discomfort to be an instrument of God?  Am I willing to lay aside my ego so God can accomplish His work in my family? 

When you are examining the status of your family's spiritual development, what other categories and questions are important for you?  

Photo:  PresentationPro

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nurturing Your Child's Heart Connection with God

Photo: Microsoft Images

Recently, I wrote a post about teaching my children to pray.  This is something we have made a priority in our family.  What I've learned in this process is that it's simple to teach the mechanics of prayer.  It is more challenging--yet incredibly important--to foster a heart connection between my children and God.

My children don't need to follow a specific formula to pray "correctly."  What I truly want is for my children to want to talk with God.  Sally Clarkson says it so eloquently in her book The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity, "I want [my kids] to leave my home with a hunger and passion to know God personally and to be used by him to accomplish great things for his kingdom."  This is what I want for my children.  And you know what?  It's what God wants for them too.  There will be times in his life when my son will feel distant from God.  At those times, I want him to feel that some vital part of him--something at the very core of his being--is missing.  I want him to fervently search for that missing piece and not rest until his relationship with God is deepened.

I am always striving to cultivate a stronger heart connection between my children and God.  Here are a few ideas I've tried:

Emphasize Common Traits and Interests
Photo: Chrisianphotos.net
My oldest son has a tendency toward intense enthusiasm.  When he expresses fervor for his latest lego building project or his passion for something new he has learned in science, I try to use those events to connect him with God.  We talk about how much God loves creating and all the wonderful things He has made.  We discuss the Author of science and wonder at God's incredible mind.  I want him to know that God is eager to hear about the things that are important to him.

Silent Prayers with Prompts
Occasionally, we do silent bedtime prayers.  I prompt my son to talk with God about various things that he might tell a friend (even sharing a funny joke).  When he has finished his silent response, he taps my hand to indicate that he's ready for another prompt.  Silent prayers remove feelings of self-consciousness as our children explore new ways of talking with God.

His Mighty Warrior & His Little Princess books
His Mighty Warrior: A Treasure Map from Your King and His Little Princess: Treasured Letters from Your King (His Princess) are beautiful collections of intimate letters from God to a boy or a girl. You can read my full description and review here.

Creative Prayer Journal
Kay Arthur's book Lord, Teach Me to Pray for Kids (Discover 4 Yourself® Inductive Bible Studies for Kids) inspired us to start a creative prayer journal (or "logbook").  This a great idea for children who are artistically inclined or who have a difficulty putting their thoughts into words.  Here are a couple of the pages from my son's prayer journal.

Short Spontaneous Prayers Throughout the Day
We have a routine of praying at specific times--meals and bedtime.  Instead of telling my children that they can talk with God about anything at any time, I've made a real effort to model this for them.  When we see a particularly beautiful sunset, we say a quick prayer to of praise.  If we encounter an obstacle, we turn to the One who is ready to help at all times.  When we encounter a small blessing, we immediately share our appreciation with God.  We are striving to "pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17) on a day-to-day basis.

Nurturing my children's heart connections with God is something I am actively working on.  Please share your thoughts and ideas!

Photo:  Christianphotos.net

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

D6 Days starts TODAY!

The D6 Conference, which has become a hub of family ministry, is generously offering full-length video sessions for FREE beginning today through March 6!  In addition, free MP3's of lab sessions will be made available.

Watch the video session "Abide" based on John 15: 4-5.  Also listen to the free MP3 download of Michelle Anthony speaking with honesty and conviction about "Awakening Spiritual Parenting in Today's Families."

To experience these inspiring free sessions, click here.

D6 Days are are also scheduled for April 17 and July 24!  

Early Bird discounts are still available now for the 2012 D6 Conference in Frisco, Texas, on September 26-28.  Click here to register.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Being a Living Sacrifice

Christianity is not a spectator sport.  Christianity is not passive.  A Christian attitude is not one of consumerism.  True Christians do not attend church with the expectation that we are to be served.  Instead, we attend with an attitude of genuine worship.  Christians are called to serve--to minister--to one another and to the world.

What does it mean to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12, 1 Peter 2)?  It can mean a lot of things.  It can mean writing an article that may not be accepted for publication.  It can mean sharing your heart with someone when you're not sure whether it will be treated with sensitivity.  It can mean starting a blog that no one may read.  It can mean organizing an event for families that has no guarantee of being popular.  It can mean leading a small group that has the possibility of fizzling out.  It can mean reaching out with a hug when you don't know whether it will be received with acceptance.  Being a living sacrifice requires action on our part.

Are you deeply convicted about the importance of the family in the spiritual training of children?  Are you passionate about the Biblical model of family discipleship?  Being a living sacrifice does not involve sitting around and thinking about how "the church" needs to address the needs you see around you.  After all, we are the church, are we not?  If God has given you a passion for families, He has a reason for doing so.  The question is not whether God can do an awe-inspiring work with families.  The question is whether you are willing to be a part of it.

The Bible tells us that when seeds are scattered, there is no guarantee that those seeds will take root and flourish (Matthew 25, Mark 4, Luke 8).  Being a living sacrifice means surrendering to God.  It means sticking your neck out   It means shattering your comfort zone.  It means serving instead of being served.  It means laying your ego on the line.  It means taking the risk of being deeply humbled in order to be a servant of the Living God.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaching Our Children to Pray

Christianity is about living in relationship with God.  Can any relationship be strong if there is not good communication?  Prayer is an integral part of being a Christian.  Some children naturally share their hearts with God.  For others, prayer is not instinctive so we need to be intentional about teaching prayer as a way of life.

In our family, we've used a variety of materials to teach prayer.

Teaching Your Child How to Pray is a wonderfully thorough resource.  It contains practical ideas for helping your child develop a habit of prayer as well as enriching your own prayer life.  There are some really beautiful analogies here that helped me explain the purpose of prayer to my son.  Probably the most unique aspect of this book is the developmental stages of prayer based on the lives of Samuel and Jesus. Explanations for each of these 6 stages includes scriptural context, examples of what is involved in each stage, approximate ages, suggestions for teaching and for transitioning to the next stage, cautions, and key Bible verses.

Faith Begins @ Home Prayer is one of the companion books for Faith @ Home.  This slim book is a very quick read.  Despite its small size, it is a treasure trove of creative (and fun!) approaches to incorporating prayer into family life. Below are some of our favorites, but there are twenty four kid-friendly, innovative prayer ideas presented in the book.

  • circle prayer (holding hands and praying around the circle, squeezing the next person's hand to signal when you are finished)
  • popcorn prayer (complete-the-sentence prayers with an exciting twist)
  • prayer calendar (assigning specific topics that need regular prayer to a particular date each month)
  • prayer maps (support for missions and peoples in need)
  • characteristics of God ( completing the phrase "God is  . . . " and turning it into praise)
  • prayer walks (praying about things or people you see as you walk along).  

Lord, Teach Me to Pray for Kids (Discover 4 Yourself® Inductive Bible Studies for Kids) is a fun educational tool that uses inductive study to learn what the Bible says about prayer.  The book has a fun military theme to captivate the attention of children.  My son really enjoyed the puzzles.  The activities throughout the book weren't just busywork.  They were carefully designed to increase understanding.  Because the book contains eight chapters of the Bible in their entirety as an appendix, there is no need to have a separate Bible to use it.  This made it a convenient portable activity book. The target age for this book is 8-12 years old.  We introduced it at a younger age, but the vocabulary presented a bit of a challenge.  (The lessons rely heavily on words such as allegiance, submission, petition, and intercession.)  It can be challenging to find Bible study books that are especially interesting to boys.  This one definitely fits the bill!

This prayer poster is another resource we have used in our family.  It took me a grand total of 5 minutes to create it.  I just taped 5 envelopes to a piece of posterboard.  The top envelope can hold a pen and some index cards.  On the other four envelopes, I wrote the words:  "Praise," "Thanks," "Sorry," and "Please help."  The poster was hung in a high traffic area of the house where we see it often.  If a prayer idea occurs to us, we can write it on an index card and slip it in the appropriate envelope.  This really helps us remember what we want to pray about.

I recently printed, laminated, and attached magnets to the free prayer printables at When You Rise.  (Fantastic blog, by the way!)  I love the idea of praying scripture over my children and am looking forward to giving this a try. 

Other prayer ideas I love:

Prayer Pail by Lu Bird Baby.

Children's Prayer Books by Our Family for His Glory.

I love hearing new ideas!  How do you teach your children to pray?

Photo: Microsoft Images

Saturday, January 21, 2012

God's Model for Passing on the Faith to the Next Generation

A lot of media attention has been given to the failure of Christians to pass on their faith to the next generation. The statistics are alarming.  And yet the church has probably never made children a greater priority or had better programs for them.

Clearly, church programs are not the problem.  The flip side of this is that church programs are not the solution

This video by Kurt Bruner shows a beautiful analogy of God's model for faith development:

There is no greater influence on the development of a child's faith than the influence of their parents.  In fact, the research shows that parents are 2-3 times more influential than even the best of youth ministry programs.  It's time for us to get back to the basics--back to God's design for passing on the faith.