Train Up a Child
"Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." PROVERBS 22:6
It’s the verse most Christian parents reference when praying for their children. Some are in a state where the prayer is for a wandering child to return to God. Others are in the midst of a challenging time in adolescence, and they are clinging to the hope that what they have already done will be enough to press through the difficult time. Still others are new to parenting, and are holding to the hope that if they “do it right,” everything will work out just fine. If we follow God’s lead and do what He says to do, we can expect to see this promise come to pass.
So… how do we train up a child in the way he should go? It isn’t a mystery. God has laid out the details in His WORD! By knowing Him and His Word, we can be fully equipped for the task at hand. Does that mean that work is required on our end? Absolutely! God has prepared good works for us to do and parenting is one of them! We need to put in the effort to expect a harvest. We can’t just plant and leave the seed to chance. Take the opportunities God gives you EVERY DAY to water and nurture the seeds, cover them with prayer and continue to demonstrate a life well-lived for God. Be the best example of Jesus that your kids will see and imitate.
Many parents still are looking for more concrete examples, strategies or activities to do with their kids to encourage their walk with the Lord. Every day teachable moments are BEST! Taking your kids to the scriptures when faced with decisions, conflicts, and other real-life situations will show them that God truly does have the answers! Following His plan is always best!
If you are looking for something simple to get started, here is an exercise that my husband and I have done with our children. It is a weekly prayer chart. Each day focuses on a topic which contains several subtopics. We discuss the topic, and then ask God to highlight one of the subtopics for each person to pray over during a family prayer time. Sometimes, God gives us topics not on the list. The more time we spend getting to know His heart, the more our prayers evolve. ***You can adjust/tweak to fit the ages of your children.
Once you get going, you will see that your time with God becomes more about Him and others and less about you. You are moving toward living a life that is focused on knowing Him and His desires, and you are rejoicing in the victories along the way. You may want to keep a family prayer journal to record answered prayers or testimonies. That is totally up to you. We just like to celebrate what God is doing and remember His goodness when things get tough. We reflect on His faithfulness and the way He has come through time and time again when we are walking in obedience to His plan.
We also talk about the times when we step out of God’s plan, and seek to do things on our own. The chart above is just a starting point. If we see that we need to scrap the chart for the evening to focus on something else that God has brought to our hearts and minds, we need to adjust. Teachable moments are so powerful. Don’t let them slip away.
That being said, you don’t have to wait for family prayer time to address an issue. Be led by the Spirit, and let His training guide you into all Truth. Many of our “training moments” are on the spot. The Spirit will bring the scriptures to your remembrance (as long as you have been doing your part to hide them in your heart). As I mentioned earlier, it is a labor of love.
For more intensive studies or activities you could:
· Search the scriptures to see how the people of the Bible praised God. (singing, dancing, playing music…)
· Put on a song and dance in worship together.
· Sing your favorite praise song together, play along with your favorite praise song, or write your own song of praise to the Lord!
· Search the scriptures for ways that people served and ministered to one another. Put some into practice as a family.
· Pray over the ministries from your church, and ask God where you should get involved.
· Study the ministry of Paul and look at the challenges he faced when doing ministry. Pray for those who are actively ministering with God to overcome the obstacles that come against them.
· Watch a video about a missionary (from the past or present day). After watching, ask for each person to share something God showed them during the film about what it means to minister with Him.
· Read a newsletter from a missionary who is currently “in the field.” Pray for that missionary, and write him/her/them a letter or email to encourage them to continue to serve with joy. You may want to make this a monthly commitment along with a financial gift for that missionary.
· Make “give” and “take” jars. Use two jars and label one “give” and the other “take.” Have a third jar in the center to hold some tongue depressors or popsicle sticks. When someone is caught speaking life, acknowledge it and put a stick in the “give” jar. When someone is caught speaking death, acknowledge it, and put a stick in the “take” jar. See how you do by the end of the day. Discuss what you see in the jars. Ask God for ways to do things differently the next day. Put all sticks back in the center jar and start over the next day. (His mercies are new every morning). Try it for a week and see if the numbers of sticks in each jar are changing.
· Look at scriptures about the tongue. There are a ton of them! Our words have power! Choose one scripture a day for a month and ask God to show you how to “do it.” Share testimonies at the end of each day.
· Talk! Talk! Talk! Talk to one another about challenges you face each day. Ask God for wisdom as to how to handle them - what to say or not say; what to do or not do…
· Give each member of the family a chance to choose a country from a world map. Each week explore that country - Where is it located? How is it different from the USA? What do most of the people in that country believe (dominant religion)? Ask God how to pray for that country and then pray.
· Look at the tags inside of your clothing. Pray for the country where your clothing was made.
· Research what countries are in the 10-40 window. What does that mean? Pray for those countries.
· Check out scriptures put to music. Choose one each week and sing the song all week long. It will get into your mind and heart before you know it!
· Find creative ways to put scripture around your house, in a backpack, in your car, etc. Keep the Word before your eyes as much as you can.
· Research what people groups still need a copy of the Word in their languages. Pray for workers to translate and get the written word into the hands of those people.
· Ask God for a ministry that you can do together as a family. Then go and do it! (i.e. Serve at a soup kitchen, Make dinner for a shut-in, and deliver it). Take time to fellowship together… Don’t just make it a one-time thing, but do something on a regular basis.
· Look for ways to bless others you encounter as you are “out and about” as a family. Demonstrate the love of God in creative ways together (i.e. buy a gift card, or two or three, to a grocery store, and ask God to show you who to give it/them to.)
· Thank others who serve the community in tangible ways. (ie. make cookies and take them to a local fire company, pray with the firefighters and thank them for their service)
· Invite others to your home for dessert and a time of fellowship. Introduce them to the love of God. Build a relationship with them and share the Gospel.
· Have a movie night (small intimate time or a neighborhood outreach event). View a Christian movie that has Biblical truths at its core. After watching (if in a small group setting) ask each person what he/she saw or learned about God from the film. If in a large group setting, ask for a few volunteers to share and then add any missed truths to stimulate discussion. Share the Gospel.
Remember, you don’t have to do it all. Choose one thing to get started, and do it well! If you are too busy to do one thing, then you may need to seek God about removing something from your plate. It’s hard to know Him when we aren’t still and listening.
- Jen Hartman - Creator/Director of Kid's KAIO