As parents, we do a lot of modeling for our kids.
Some of what we model is right on track with what a “good parent” should do: we eat healthy; we may not say curse words; we read to our kids at bedtime; we wait up for them to return home from a night with friends. We could have a regular exercise routine and hopefully we even model patience and deep character qualities that represent the Jesus we love.
Each and every day we have an opportunity to carry the torch and positively model truth, love, grace, and wisdom before our kids. Unfortunately, we also have our not-so-proud modeling moments. (I don’t need to make a list of those because stirring in both you and me right now are the times we have had to, in humility, go before our kids and ask for forgiveness.)
The truth is this: we are always modeling something to our children.
They watch us closely and pick up on more than we know. We impact our children in the ways we live and by what we model. Reflecting back on this past Advent season, maybe you made extra effort to focus in on JESUS, the perfect gift whom God sent to rescue and redeem us.
Jesus was (and is) THE perfect model for us.
And one thing he did a lot, talked about a lot, and then did some MORE was pray.
Prayer was one of the first things he taught his disciples how to do, and he taught them why they should do it (Matthew 6:5-18, 7:7-11) when He took them up a mountain and preached The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus modeled prayers of thanksgiving as he walked with and taught his disciples (Matthew 11:25,26), and repeatedly throughout the gospels Jesus went off alone to be with His Father.
There are thousands of sermons, books, and articles on prayer and why we should do it. I’ve been challenged and deeply moved by many of these. In fact, prayer is THE THING that God has used to humble me, build intimacy with Him, and totally change my personal walk with Him.
And so… when I look at the life and words of Jesus — and then across the table at the faces and lives of my kids — I am pretty confident of what I need to model; I need to pray.
I want to pray for my kids and with my kids. I want them to find me praying alone and stumble across me praying for other people. I want them to know that we HAVE to pray and that we GET to pray – that prayer is both a necessity and an honor.
My husband and I continually ask God for specific ways to pray over our kids because we believe that prayer is part of fighting the enemy and his schemes. When we pray, we give God control, we give Him the reins.
Our kids need to see us give control to God because THEY will have to do that again and again. They will need to give God control of their minds when they are faced with self doubt, anger, or lust. They will need to give God control of their fears (and there will be plenty of them).
As kids grow up and watch mom and dad pray continually to hand over their fears, they will learn to be more confident to do that themselves.
“I prayed to The Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” Psalm 34: 4,5
Bob Goff said, “No one really gets discipled, they get loved; we learn what we see, not what we only hear about.”
Most of us could probably give kids many topics about which they need to pray everyday, but maybe we just need to show them: show them that we pray when we are scared, that we pray when make mistakes, that we pray when we are uncertain of the future.
Maybe we just need to show them that we pray because Jesus did.
Our kids are watching… we need to model the Maker before them.