Do you believe that every day we go to battle for our kids’ hearts?
It’s too easy to get wrapped up in our schedules, plans, and preparations that we forget we are in the middle of a fight. Our fight is against an enemy who wants to deceive, distract, and destroy our children. And because they are still in training, it’s our job to step into the battle on their behalf.
I imagine us in our kitchens like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. In the back room of her bookstore, she chants, “Fight. Fight. Fight,” as she sashes back and forth, punching the air.
Like Meg, we might look cute, but we are fierce, too. Because we know our fight affects our precious little ones which ultimately affects the Kingdom of God.
Every battle worth engaging in requires a strategy. Our strategy might look simple. We’re tempted to overlook it completely. It might look like a stone and a slingshot against a giant warrior’s javelin. But like David, we proclaim, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel.” (1 Samuel 17:45). We know that even if it’s simple, it’s powerful. What’s our strategy? We teach, we model, and we pray.
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed, and when you are getting up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
We teach our children about God’s Word all day long.
We take every opportunity to speak about God’s goodness, His creation, His authority, and His love.
We teach them about sin and their need for Jesus.
We teach them how to forgive and love and show kindness.
We teach them to rely on the Lord when they are afraid, uncertain, or unable.
We teach them how to worship and why God deserves our praise.
A few weeks ago, my son slipped on a rock at the creek and scraped his hands and knees. The sight of blood elicited non-stop wailing as I tried to comfort him and show him that the injury wasn’t as bad as he thought. Through tears, he said, “Can you pray that God will heal it?” The precious faith of a child, right?! Right then, we prayed together that God would heal his scrapes and comfort him. His breathing slowed down, the panic stopped, and peace settled in. At that moment, my son reminded me that God cares about every detail of our lives. He also showed me that he is listening.
On some (i.e. most) days, my response to this verse would be, “Yikes!” as I repeat the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.” But what a challenge this is to us. Are we living in such a way that if our kids were to imitate us, they would imitate Jesus? Are we taking the things we teach our kids to heart? Are we also praising God, acknowledging our sins, loving others, and practicing forgiveness?
I’ve been having frequent conversations about tone of voice in my house recently. And during one of my not-so-hot parenting moments, my four-year-old said, “Mom, your voice tone sounds angry.” “Yeah. It is. And do you want to know why?” I clipped. Then I listed everything he and his brother had done that day that made me mad. Awesome. Clearly, not modeling self-control, patience, gentleness, and probably a few more things.
But later, I did get to model saying I’m sorry and asking forgiveness. They listened to me confess my sin to Jesus and ask His forgiveness. Even in our mistakes, we have an opportunity to model what a genuine relationship with the Lord looks like.
“But Jesus would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” (Luke 5:16)
I often forget how powerful prayer truly is. But Jesus modeled for us that conversation with the Father is necessary. He knew how much prayer mattered. That strength and peace and wisdom came from talking with God. That God hears every prayer and is capable of answering them.
When we pray for our children, we go to God on their behalf. We ask God to save them and free them, guide them and convict them, teach them and use them for His purposes. We believe that God hears every request and is capable of answering each one perfectly. We exercise faith and strengthen our own dependence on the Lord when we ask Him to do specific things in our kids’ lives.
We have a children’s book about how parents pray for their kids, and there’s one line that I think about often:
“’Cause when I pray for you, God knows this is true, every word I whisper is a prayer for me too.”
Isn’t that so true?
We pray that our kids will love Jesus and follow Him without wavering.
We pray that our kids will have the desire to read and know God’s Word.
We pray that they will make an impact in their friends’ lives and in God’s Kingdom.
We pray that they will grow up to be men and women of integrity, known for their kindness and wisdom.
We pray that they will become selfless, and serve others well. That they will be patient and generous.
We pray that they will believe they are loved perfectly by Jesus and look to Him alone to find their worth and value.
We pray they will believe that God has a unique purpose for their lives and discover the gifts and dreams God placed inside them.
And we want those things for ourselves as well.
And so, we pray. We pray for our kids faithfully and specifically. And we pray for ourselves, too.
We believe that one day our efforts to teach, model, and pray will come to fruition within our own households. Then, we can link arms with our children and, together, continue to fight against the evil one in the Name of Jesus.
Callie Clayton writes to encourage others (and remind herself) that it’s possible to experience God right where you are. She enjoys teaching the Bible to teenagers, having good conversation over meals she didn’t cook, and baking all the chocolate desserts. Embracing her role as a boy-mom to three little ones, she and her husband are worn out, but loving the adventure of parenthood.