Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category.

Give the gift of praying a life verse for your child

I’m an overthinker, so when I decided to pick a verse to pray for my children, it sort of stressed me out.  There are so many great Scriptures, how would I choose?   Do I pray a different one for each kid or just pick one for both?  Should I pick a verse, passage, or even chapter?

Though I don’t allow my kids to use the “s” word, I realized I needed to KISS…Keep It Simple, Stupid!

So, I began to pray for God to show me what verse He wanted me to pray for my kids…something short and sweet and easy to remember when mommy brain fog is in full force!

A couple of months later, I was reading in Matthew and 22:35-42 stood out to me –

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Hmmmmmmmm….loving God and loving others.  Jesus, of course, is right that everything else falls under two things.  So, it occurred to me, what more could I want for my kids?! 

I decided to reword it as my prayer for my kids’ lives in this way –

Heavenly Father,
Please help my children to
love You with all their heart, soul, and mind
and to love their neighbor as themselves…
especially each other.
Amen

I added that last line because my heart’s desire is that they also greatly value their sibling relationship (their closest neighbor!) and treat each other with that in mind.

Do I pray this every day?  No, it’s not something I ever want to become ritualistic.  But it’s an overarching principle I can go back to as I pray for them, generally and specifically.  And, on those days when I can’t string two coherent thoughts together (you know those days!), I can still at least remember this!

Do you have a verse or verses you pray regularly for your kid(s)?  I’d love to hear your pick!
If not, consider giving this priceless gift.  Pray for God to reveal what Scripture(s) you should use and feel free to use mine, if He so leads.  Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments gives more ideas on praying Scripture for your child on pages 236-239.

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What is your child’s biggest temptation and what are you doing about it?

You know your child better than anyone else.  You know his strengths and weaknesses.
What have you found to be his biggest temptation? 

You know,
…the one that is constantly rearing it’s ugly head!
…the issue that he gets in trouble for over and over and never seems to learn.
…the one that breaks your heart because you know he should know better and yet still struggles.
Yeah, that one.  We all have one or more.  Adults and kids alike.

So, what are you doing about it on behalf of your child? 
Are you
…pretending it’s not so bad?
…sticking your head in the sand and hoping it will just go away?
…at your wit’s end with trying everything you know to no avail?

OR,
Are you
…asking God to work in his heart in a way that nobody else can touch?
…praying topical Scripture on his behalf?  Resource:  Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments
…asking God for him to get caught at every turn so he has opportunities to learn while he is younger and the consequences are less harsh?
…petitioning the Lord to somehow use this weakness for His glory?

I love this verse that follows the “Armor of God” and
is listed in the “See Also” verses under”Prayer” in
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

Ephesians 6:18
 temptationPhoto: Creative Commons – Google

 
 
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When nothing works with your toddler, teen, or in between, what do you do?

Have you ever been at your wit’s end with your kid?

That’s a silly question.  Let me rephrase…

How many times have you been at your wit’s end with your kid?

I’ve found that too often it isn’t until after I’ve tried everything that I hit my knees and pray about the issue. 

Why do we neglect what we should do from the get go?
I’m not sure, but after so many rounds I can say that I’m finally starting to remember to go to the Lord sooner rather than waiting until I’m out of human options!

Years ago, I asked a godly mom (my wonderful cousin, Donna Martin) of 3 teens what her best tool in her spiritual parenting toolbelt was.

Her answer surprised me.

She said it’s praying specific topical Scriptures for her teens.
The reason, she explained, is that she knew even if she couldn’t get through to her teens on a subject, she knew she could always get through to God. 

WOW!  That’s true of toddlers, teens, and in between isn’t it?!

Quick example:  You know your child is struggling with (or will encounter) peer pressure.  Look up the topic “Peer Pressure” in Parenting with Scripture: a Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.  There you will find Exodus 23:2 and can reword it as a prayer.  “Dear Lord, please help Sarah not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”

What topic do you need to be in prayer about for your child?
Let’s not wait ’til we get to our wit’s end to find those related Scriptures and get prayin’!

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Photo:  Zazzle Product

 
 
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“But I already prayed today!” – 3 Reminders for our Kids about Prayer

On the way home from the kids’ evening archery class one day last year, we listened to an online devotional and then I asked Kalli to pray for us.  “But I already prayed today,” was her quick response.

Perfect set-up for a teachable moment, don’t ya’ think?  Several points came to mind.

1.  Jesus is our best friend.  Don’t we want to talk often with our best friends? 
I couldn’t think of exactly where the verse was, but reminded the kids that the Bible says to “pray continually.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:17, by the way.)

That means our lives can be a dialogue with God throughout the day as we think of things and as things come up…
Pray out-loud for the people the ambulance is helping as it whizzes by.
Pray for something heard on the news right then and there.
Pray for the friend who texted that she has a sore throat.
Pray out-loud on the way to a play date or party for the friends to be kind to each other.

And, it’s not just requests that can be an on-going dialogue from our heart…
Praise Him for who He is!
Praise Him for answered prayers as they happen.
Praise Him as you notice the beauty of His creation that surrounds you in big and little ways.
Ask Him for help with what your struggles and forgiveness when you realize you have gone astray.

2.  Just because we’ve “officially” prayed once that day, doesn’t mean we’ve met some sort of quota.
I pointed out that I had already prayed at lunch so did that mean I also shouldn’t have to pray anymore today either?  Is that the way we want to view prayer, as something to check off for the day?

3.  And, it was the perfect time to share something with the kids about a prayer time they don’t ever see.
I shared with them that their daddy and I pray together every night right before we go to sleep.  Not long prayers…just short and sweet, whatever is on our heart from that day and/or for the next.  I wanted them to hear an example of how we prioritize prayer with each other, even when they aren’t around. 

Pray continually.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

Ephesians 6:18

More discussion questions, take action ideas, and Scriptures related to “Prayer” can be found in your copy of Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

I hope I’m not the only one who thinks this is funny!
It’s also a great illustration (unless it would freak out your kids!)
that praying doesn’t have to “look” a certain way. 
“Praying continually” means anywhere, anytime, anyhow! 
Thank you, Lord, for that freedom you bless us with to be able to talk with You, our Heavenly Father!

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(Cartoon permission courtesy of www.reverendfun.com)

What is your kid’s concept of the how, when, and why of prayer? 
Ask and see where the discussion leads.
Sometimes I’m surprised by what my kids know and don’t know.

 
 
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How can the Grand Old Flag help us parent with Scripture?

Celebrate July 4th beyond the burgers and fireworks by using the 13 strips of the Grand Old Flag as prayer points or Scripture strips for our nation!  Display this project in your home as a reminder to continue to pray for our nation.

Start by making or printing out a picture of a flag to use for either the version below. 
You can keep this as simple as you want or go all out crafty!  Pinterest and Google Images have lots of options.
*Printable Option:
http://www.internetfamilyfun.com/images/wallpaper/wallameriflag640.gif
*Coloring Page Option:
http://www.coloringcastle.com/pdfs/flags/flag-usa-123.pdf
*Simple Craft Option for younger kids:
http://funhandprintartblog.com/2012/05/handprint-american-flags-eagles-patriotic-crafts-round-up.html
*Simple Craft Options for older kids:
http://www.allkidsnetwork.com/crafts/4th-of-july/paper-american-flag.asp

Prayer Point Version:
Brainstorm with your kids different ways to pray for our nation.  Don’t forget, as the verse reminds us below, to give thanks as well!  Write one way on each of the stripes of the flag.

Bible Verse Version:
Write out 1 Timothy 2:1-2 on the stripes of the flag and display it in your home to help your family remember to lift our country up in prayer.

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Click here for a children’s sing-along of The Grand Old Flag from YouTube to familiarize your children with this patriotic song by playing it while working on the project.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—
for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for teachable moments and reference your copy of
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments
to help you and your kids know what God has to say about the topics!

 Happy 4th of July!

 
 
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National Day of Prayer (Thurs, May 1) – 5 Ways to Involve Your Kids

The annual National Day of Prayer is a wonder time to pause and remember to be grateful for our great country and to lift it up in prayer. 

Creative ways to pray for America on this day or any day can be found at
www.commit2pray.com and www.nationaldayofprayer.org and include:

*Pray as a family the same prayer people will be praying all across the nation on May 1:
The 2014 National Prayer written by Anne Graham Lotz plus audio links Click here

*Record your prayer for America:
 From the website, “We want to hear from you! Call (719) 559-9566 to record your prayer for America!”

*Sign a declaration to commit to pray for AmericaClick here

*Download Prayer Guides and other materials for the National Day of Prayer – Click here

*favorite idea I ran across is the Prayer balloon Launch KitClick here.  This would be so much fun for families or church groups!   Make your own version by grabbing a few helium balloons at the grocery store, writing your family prayers for America on homemade tags to attach to the balloons, and launching them from your home!   

2014 National Day of Prayer Theme: One Voice, United in Prayer.  
“So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 15:6

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 For more on the topic of Prayer, see your copy of
Parenting with Scripture:  A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.

 
 
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New Beginnings, not Resolutions Series – Prayer Partner

A number of years ago, I desired to join a group of moms that prayed for our preschool (like Moms in Touch).  The problem was, how would I fit that into my already busy schedule?  I just couldn’t add one more meeting to attend!  Nevertheless, I knew that I needed some accountability to pray for my family.  Why is it that I’m great at remembering to pray for a friend’s surgery or an extended family member in crisis?  But, I forget to regularly lift up the needs of those under my own roof?!  Please tell me I’m not the only one!

I was discussing this conundrum with a dear childhood friend, Amy, and we came up with a solution!  Prayer partners!  She had similar desires so we agreed to pray by phone weekly, most often on Wednesdays.  We e-mail each other our “praises and prayer requests” before our call.  We’ve found that preparing those ahead helps us have the time we need to prayerfully contemplate our family’s joys and concerns before being on the spot during the conversation.  Sometimes we enjoy catching up before we pray.  Other times we keep it short and sweet and run through the lists because of our time constraints.  We’ve been going for over 6 years now and what a joy it has been to pray through all the highs and lows.  It would be veeeeeeeery easy to have let this time slip away through the years as life tries to push it out of the way.  However, I know that both Amy and I are grateful to this time for not only our friendship, but also the incredible ways we’ve seen God work in our families through illness, job loss, unemployment, births, deaths, issues with our children, career changes, maaaaaaany decisions, and so forth.  Looking back through these years of praying, we can both say with certainty that in the good AND the bad, “God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good!”

If this strikes a chord in your heart, maybe finding a prayer partner is a new beginning for you this year!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

Helpful Tips for avoiding burn-out or it regularly turning into chat time:

  • Write out your purpose.
    Is this just for our families or for any prayer need we know of?
  • Write out guidelines
    How much will the total time be?
    How much time will each person share?
    How much time will be allow for prayer?
    Will we allow time for catch up or be careful to stick to prayer?

    This may sound too formal, especially if you are doing this with a good friend.  However, it simply helps everyone get on the same page and sets the stage for gentle reminders to be made if things are getting off track.

  • E-mail ahead the concise list of praises and prayer requests.  Thinking through things ahead allows for more prayer time.
  • Focus on praise as much as prayer.

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Teachable Moment – Honesty

“You pray for us to get in trouble?!?!” my kids asked in wide eyed disbelief?  “No,”  I explained, “I don’t wish for you to get in trouble.  However, we all make mistakes.  It’s easier and better to learn from them when we are young.  So, if there are issues that need to addressed, I pray that God allows them to be uncovered so your daddy and I can help teach you through them.”

This discussion was in response to my commenting that a lie that had been discovered was an answer to prayer.  The issue of honesty in my children had been heavy on my heart because I could see one of my kiddos tending in the direction of dishonesty.  I began to fervently pray that God would give me and Tim clear opportunities to address the issue and for the Lord to work in the child’s heart.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the incident.  Tim had just finished up jury duty and the judge shared with the panel that he had recently sentenced a woman to 14 days in prison for lying.  Had she told the truth, she still would have been fined, but spared the prison term.  Tim explained to the kids that it’s similar for us with parenting them.  If they do something wrong, there will be a consequence.  However, if they do something wrong and try to cover it up with a lie, the consequence will be multiplied many times.  

We asked the kids whether they thought we were being loving or mean by teaching enforcing these values.  The jury example helped them connect that we love them enough to help them learn these things now, in order to spare them harsher consequences as adults.  As far as honesty goes, Luke 16:10 (see below) is in frequent discussion at our home.  Whether we can trust them in piddly little things that they might be tempted to think are no big deal, determines whether we can trust them later on with babysitting, driving, etc.  Their choices do indeed have short and long term consequences. 

Grace.  After a heavy discussion like this, I appreciated that Tim reminded the kids that we know they are going to make mistakes (we still do!) and that we will always love them (and so will God)…no matter what! 

Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.
Psalm 120:2

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,
and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Luke 16:10

Honest is the best policy.
(There’s disagreement in research about who said this first.)

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In the News

Egypt.  Afghanistan.  Countries that continue to be in the news.  Depending on the age and sensitivity of our children, we have to be careful about listening to or watching the news together.  However, a couple of recent conversations with my kids have made me realize I need to share more about what’s going on in order to help expand their view of the world, as well as to broaden the topics for which we pray. 

A sweet elderly lady the kids and I visit on a regular basis mentioned that her grandson is stationed in Afghanistan.  She shared a bit about what he has said life is like there for him and the family’s concern for his safety.  Trying to include the kids in the conversation, I asked them to help us remember to pray for him.  On our way home from the visit, we stopped by the library.  What caught my eye on the end of a shelf, but a children’s non-fiction book on Afghanistan!  I grabbed it and at dinner that night we looked at the pictures and read some of the key facts about the country and culture.  It was eye-opening to my kiddos!  I’m thankful that God put that book in my line of sight because I know it helped enrich their understanding about praying for the young soldier.  As my kiddos have grown older (now 3rd and 5th grade), I’ve been missing reading picture books with them.  However, this made me realize that we can continue to look for opportunities to connect our world through juvenile non-fiction to our prayer life no matter how old they get!  The pictures and information are just enough to give us an overview without getting overwhelmed. 

Egypt.  You can’t turn on the news currently without hearing about the unrest there.  According to an e-mail from the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice), “The jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, furious that it has lost power, is taking out its rage on Egyptian Christians.”  Beyond that, I’m not sure exactly what all is going on.  I hope that’s encouraging to those of you who don’t either.  However, I know enough to know that they need prayer…especially our fellow believers.   While the kids and I were unloading dishes recently, something came up about our church building.  I shared how I had heard on the news that 60 churches in Egypt had been burned!  We discussed the emotions that would bring if things were like that in our country.  Sad and scary!   Talking about news like that with the kids helps shed new light on being thankful for the freedoms and safety we have in our country!  We brainstormed ways to pray for them.  What would we want people to pray for us if we were in that situation?

If this subject strikes a chord in your heart and you want to know more how to specifically pray for people in other countries, Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation is an excellent resource. 

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone. 
1 Timothy 2:1

 InTheNews[1]

 
 
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Prayerful Parenting – Electronics/Media

If my kids has their choice, they would spend almost every waking moment with electronics.  Indeed, that’s what statistics are bearing out for our children’s generation.  Reading here and there about the results of this trend is down-right scary!  It’s been heavy on my heart this summer that Tim and I needed to come up with a better plan for helping our balance real life with the plethora of electronic options.  Here’s the problem – my hubby is an IT Manager who loves all things electronics!  The latest and greatest innovations will always be a part of our home.  The blessing of this is that our kids will learn about it from an expert.  The flip side is that I wasn’t sure Tim understood the crisis that the influx of so much electronic/media time is creating for kids in general, and especially our children.  He sees the good in it.  I’ve been reading all about the bad.  What to do?  We had a date planned where we were going to take time to discuss key points (including this very subject) in several of the books I had been reading.  I began to pray toward that day that God would help Tim’s heart be tender to these issues.  Imagine my surprise when he mentioned that the Wednesday before our Saturday date, there would be a technology seminar at a local church that he wanted to attend.  Imagine my bigger surprise when he came home from the meeting and said it was actually on media!  Imagine my huge surprise, when at our date, he pulled out pages of notes from said seminar and began to detail many of the points I had wanted to share with him!  WOW!  What a clear answer to prayer!  Tim would have certainly taken it seriously had I had shared the same things.  But, what a blessing for him to hear it from a man in ministry that he really respects (Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries – www.probe.org). 

What did we do with that information?  We hammered it out into a plan for our family.  This isn’t a one size fits all thing.  Some families will be more strict than us, and others will be more lenient.  Feel free to use this as a tool as you prayerfully consider this area for your family.  We held a family meeting and Tim shared our new plan with the kiddos.  I sat amazed as Tim turned it into a discussion style rather than laying it out dictatorial style.  It was a powerful example to me as I would have been tempted to turn the whole thing into a long soliloquy!  His back and forth approach allowed for the kids to feel ownership in the process and receive the privileges with attached responsibilities with positive attitudes.  

Electronic Plan and Privileges

Electronics Privileges (During School Year)
Monday – Friday = 1 hr/day
Saturday – Sunday = 2 hrs/day

Freedoms:
-Schedule it as you wish during the day.
-Use any form of electronics we have.
-You have the time to use, but don’t have to use any or all of it. 
-Parents won’t dictate when it’s used, unless it’s interfering with what’s planned for the day.
-You have the freedom as long as you are not abusing the privileges.

Responsibilities:
-Accountable for your own time.
-Be mature and wise about when to use it according to our schedule for the day.
-No “shared” electronic time if your time is up. (ie – If child 1 uses all his time, he may not sit and watch child 2 play Wii.)

Exceptions:
-Summer and Holidays = 2 hrs/day
-Family movie or tv share time does not count toward time limit.
-Music and audio books do not count toward time limit.
-iBooks do count toward time limit, so choose library books instead.  (Important from a financial stand-point and also limiting the electronic glare that can cause wakefulness at night.)

Friends over:
-Use electronics by permission.
-Allotted time will depend on length of hosting.
-Friends’ electronics will be collected by 10 PM on sleepovers.  One of your iPods may remain for music only.

Bedtime and electronics:
-Nothing but music or audio books

Electronic Communication: (Texting, Face Time…and in the future, E-mail, & Facebook.)
-Must ask permission to add new friends to text list.
-Avoid face-timing others when friends are with you.  Interact with who is actually with you.
-No texting after bedtime.
-Only communicate with family or friends that you know are real and approved (explain why).
-No girls texting boys and vice-versa (we will discuss this more as you get older).

For Safety:
We have filters and monitors on electronic devices in our home for our protection.  Know that we will do random checks to make sure you are safe in terms of content and appropriate in terms of time. 

Consequences:
If you show that you are not able to handle your freedoms responsibly, you will lose privileges.

Conclusion:
Discuss Discernment regarding media/electronics.  Ideas under that topic in Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments.  Remember that we are accountable to God at home AND wherever else we go.  

 I’m no King Solomon, but I believe balance is part of what he’s talking about in
Ecclesiastes 3:1 when he says “There is a time for everything…” 
I think it’s fair to say the same goes for electronics. 
There is a time for them.  And, a time to put them away.

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