OnSite International's purpose is to give glory to God by
advancing His gospel worldwide through prayer,
church development, discipleship, and evangelism

Cultivating a Child's Tender, Prayerful, Heart

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 1:08pm -- Rob
One of the greatest gifts a loving adult can give a child is an example of how to pray. 

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
- Ephesians 6:4

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it
. - Proverbs 22:6
 
Children are created with tender and teachable hearts.  Due to their teachable nature, it's a vital time to model prayer for them and with them.  In Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13, Jesus models prayer for His disciples (adults).  However, we also see three of the gospel writers record Jesus praying for and with children during His time on earth.
 
Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” - Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 10:13-14, Luke 18:15-16

 

Jesus prayed for children in public.  But, be careful not to overlook that while He was praying for them, He also modeled prayer to their tender hearts.

 

Praying As a Family

Married couples and families should take advantage of every opportunity to pray with one another.  Single parent households should also do the same with their children.  Whether it's around meal times, before and after bedtimes, special family devotional times, before and after watching movies or shows together, going on family walks; in times of joy, laughter, difficulty, pain, boredom, grief, and more; saturating lives in prayer brings many benefits.  One such benefit is that children begin to become saturated with prayer (and as a result, saturated with God).  They grow in prayer, familiarity, and in relationship with Jesus Christ.  A child can find peace, hope, and comfort by witnessing, overhearing, and even participating when his/her parent(s) pray.  In a world filled with upsetting words, actions, and influences; give a child as many opportunities to rest peacefully in prayer; whether they actively pray or simply listen in on prayer.

If your child/children have friends over to your home, also seek God for opportunities to gently model prayer for your children and their friends.  Don't be shy or worried about praying with them or near them.  You'll be amazed at how nominal, and even unchurched, children may respond when they experience a friend's parent pray (or hear their friend pray with their parent(s)).  Prayer evangelism exists!

 

Children Influencing Parents in Prayer

This may strike a nerve with some, but it should be addressed.  What happens if your child, or a child you know, comes home with what seems to be a greater capacity to pray than you currently possess?  Should you feel ashamed, embarrassed, hopeless, or throw in the towel on your spiritual life?  Absolutely not!  God may be providing a teachable moment to you- via that child!

God, in His infinite wisdom, places remarkable faith within the hearts of children- especially when their hearts are pointed toward Him (occasionally when they aren't, too). 

Once, a community held a prayer event to pray for the breaking of a lengthy drought in their region.  When people began arriving at the host church, many noticed a young girl sitting in one of the church pews.  She sat quietly underneath an umbrella; inside of the church building!  Most people came to the prayer meeting seeking answers to their prayers.  That girl arrived, umbrella in hand, expecting God to provide a downpour by moving and working mightily- as only He's able!

For many adults, their once child-like faith suffered lack of cultivation; bumps, bruises, compression, suppression, and likely even oppression over the years.  A situation that once appeared completely doable by God may now seem like a tall order as life, the world, our adversary, and other influences have clouded God's power, majesty, glory, perfections, and more in our day-to-day lives.

Sometimes, God will humble adults by sending children to model or exemplify child-like faith.  For some adults, it's a reminder of how they once saw God and His work in and around their lives.  For others, it's faith-building to witness a child pray or wholeheartedly trust God. 

Yet, as adults, our pride often can be riled by such a sight.  If witnessing the pure prayer or faith of a child brings frustration, bitterness, anger, resentment, or some other negative feeling or emotion; consider it a sign that it's time to seek God to search your heart and renew your mind with His Word and Holy Spirit.  Go to God and ask Him to help you rediscover the faith He once placed within your heart.  Ask Him to help you rejoice in the prayers and faith of children around you- if He's revealing such children or actions in your life.  Ask Him to establish, or renew, your relationship and conversations with Him in prayer.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” - Revelation 21:5

Children are teachable, yet they're also used by God to teach/train adults sometimes.  Adults are teachable too.  It hasn't been that many years since we were children (90 years or fewer for most... it hasn't been all that long!).  Keep your ears and eyes open to the work God is doing around you.  He may be seeking to build and grow your faith in ways you're not anticipating!  God can restore and grow your faith in Him- so that it's once again like that of a child!

 

Freshly taste and see that He is good this week! (Psalm 34:8)

Category: