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