When You Don’t Want Summer to End

September 2nd, 2014

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Summer is over. Mornings spent sleeping in and lingering over a cup of coffee have come to an end. Vacations at the beach and afternoons lying out by the pool are sweet memories. The school year has resumed and with it early morning alarms, hectic schedules, and families pulled in different directions.

Are you like me and wish summer would never end?

Interestingly, Scripture doesn’t speak of extended breaks or vacations. However, holidays, celebrations, and rest it does talk about and all of these are related to remembering, celebrating, and enjoying God and what he has done.

Our Savior didn’t take a vacation to the beach but he did take breaks from his busy teaching schedule to rest. He enjoyed sweet fellowship with beloved friends. He feasted on good food and participated in celebrations. He also rested from his work by getting away from the crowds to be alone with his Father. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” Luke 5:16.

The truth is, the rest and peace we experience during the summer is always with us….to read the rest of this post, visit Ungrind, my writing home today.

 




Teach Me Jesus: Teach Them to Pray

August 28th, 2014

Sitting in my room one evening, having my quiet time, my son burst in through the door and said, “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” I asked.

“That sound. It was a boom or something,” he said. He stared at me with eyes wide while one hand gripped the door handle like his life depended on it.

“I didn’t hear anything. Maybe it was distant thunder,” I responded.

He ran over to me, climbed into my bed and pulled the covers over his head. From underneath the quilt came his muffled voice, “Mom, can you pray for me? Please?”

Learning How to Pray

Prayer. It’s how we communicate with our Heavenly Father. It’s a spiritual discipline. It’s a means by which God uses to carry out his will. Through our prayers, God heals, saves, provides, strengthens, and blesses. In many ways prayer is a mystery and more often than not, misunderstood, underused, and undervalued.

In Luke 11, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Prayer is something that has to be learned. Like all areas of our spiritual life, we grow in prayer. It moves and changes with us, reflecting where we are in our sanctification. As we grow, it grows; as we struggle, it struggles.

When it comes to teaching our children about prayer, it’s not a one time lesson. We will have to teach and reteach them as they grow and mature in their faith. Today I wanted to share a few resources, activities, and lessons we’ve done with our children in teaching them about prayer.

1. Teach them to bring everything to God in prayer: More so than teaching an actual method of prayer, one of my primary goals with my children has been to teach them that they need to pray about everything. I want my children to be dependent upon God in prayer, to bring everything to him, to know that they can’t do anything apart from him. When they are struggling with their behavior, fears, weakness, academics, friendships, and everything else in between, I encourage them to pray about it. One of my children battled with feelings of anger for quite a while. Over the course of a year or more of his praying and our praying for him, we saw God work through him. Now he can look back on that time and remember how God helped him through it. And in the case of one of my boys in the story above, he always asks for prayer when he is afraid and that’s exactly what he should do. Time and again, God gives him peace in his fears–and does the same for me too!

2. Children learn by listening to your prayers: Praying out loud and often with your children is one of the best ways for them to learn about prayer. They pick up the structure, flow, and content just by listening.

3. Show them through God’s word: There are numerous examples of prayer in Scripture. You could do a study with your children on prayer by reading through and discussing those examples. Here are a few: 1)Confessional prayers: Psalm 51, Nehemiah 9:5-37, Daniel 9 2) Praise and Thanksgiving prayers: 1 Chronicles 16 and 29, Psalm 106,  3) Prayers for Help: 1 Kings 8, 2 Kings 19, Habakkuk 3 4) Paul’s Prayers for Believers:  Ephesians 1:17-19, Ephesians 3:14-19, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-11.

4. Have your children memorize the Lord’s Prayer from Luke 11: Go through the Lord’s prayer and discuss the content and specific elements included, such as praise and adoration, supplication, confession, etc. Point out that we ought to include such elements in our prayers as well. In addition, the Westminster Confession goes through each element of the prayer as does the shorter catechism. Having your children memorize the questions related to the Lord’s Prayer will go a long way in helping them understand the prayer.

With that said, prayer isn’t a formula or a list that we go through, checking off each element as we pray it. It’s a intimate conversation with our Creator and Savior. In truth, we won’t always be able to pray a prayer that includes all those elements. Sometimes we might only pray a short prayer, perhaps a cry for help or a prayer of thanks for provision. Teach your children that some prayers are short and may only include one of the elements from the Lord’s Prayer (think of the prayer from the father in Mark 9, “I believe, help me in my unbelief!”) and other times, particularly during lengthy prayers, we will include all those elements.

5. Teach them that the Holy Spirit prays for them as well: Romans 8 teaches us that when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit prays for us in wordless groans (vs. 26). This is an amazing truth and so helpful for us in those times where we just don’t know what to say.

6. For those who enjoy writing, have them keep a prayer journal: Some children are writers. If your child is one, encourage them to write down their prayers. I prefer to write my prayers and have been doing so for years.  For me, it helps me stay on task and I get less distracted. I can also look back and see how my prayers have changed and how God has answered prayers over the course of time.

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7. Pray together as a family: In our family, we pray a lot. But that’s also because we are together most of the day. We pray for our meals, at the start of homeschool, at bedtime, and when something comes up during the day that requires prayer. That’s a lot of praying and we often take turns. I love listening to my children pray and it’s a good thing for children to grow up praying out loud. So pray together as a family and do it often.

In an effort to keep up with our growing prayer list, I recently put together a list on a bunch of popsicle sticks. Whoever’s turn it is to pray, grabs one out of the container and prays for that item. It’s a physical object for my kids to see and hold that engages them and helps them participate in praying for others. And it helps with my memory challenges!

8. A few resources on prayer:
Lord, Teach Me to Pray for Kids (Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible Studies for Kids): This is an inductive Bible study on prayer that I did with my oldest a few years ago. It was very thorough, kid friendly, and my son learned a lot from it, not only about prayer, but also about studying the Bible.
God Answers Prayer for Boys: We are reading through this book right now. Each chapter goes through an example of prayer either in Scripture or of a person of faith (such as a missionary) and shows how God answers prayer. There is one for girls as well: God Answers Prayer for Girls
The Barber Who Wanted to Pray: This is a great picture book about a real encounter Martin Luther had with his barber who wanted to learn how to pray. Martin Luther’s book on prayer is excellent for adults as well. (A Simple Way to Pray)
Praying Jesus’ Way (My Favorite Verses): This is a cute little picture book we used when our kids were little about the Lord’s Prayer.




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Teach Me Jesus: On Right Esteem vs. Self-Esteem

Photo Courtesy: Lisa Tarplee Photography “Mom, what’s self-esteem?” my son’s voice called out from the back of the car. We were listening to our local Christian radio station while out and about one morning. The  DJ’s were talking to one another about self-esteem and which of them had low self-esteem. That’s when my son asked me […]

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