NORTHGATE Blog

Leading Kids to a Life of Prayer

I didn’t pray as a kid except maybe when I wanted something. The truth is I didn’t develop a life of prayer until I was 38 years old. I was taught about Jesus but I wasn’t shown how to build a relationship with Him or told that He even wanted a relationship with me. Through experience, I have discovered prayer to be the single most important thing that I do.  It’s the most important thing I do for myself, for my family, for my job, for my community. I wouldn’t have believed or even understood that statement 10 years ago but that’s because my prayers didn’t change God, they changed me. 

We can’t be with our kids at all times but God can and is. That seems like reason enough to lead them to a life of prayer, a habit of communing with God, now. Here are 5 simple ways to help lead kids into a life of prayer:

1. Start with yourself. You can’t lead what you don’t know. Ask yourself if you would be satisfied if your children had your prayer life. If the answer is, “no”, start to develop a life of prayer today. Pray for God’s help and guidance. 

2. Use everyday opportunities. I can’t tell you how many lost items I have found right after I have prayed to find them or how many tummy aches felt better after prayer. There are opportunities all around us to model how to turn to God. Opportunities to thank Him, to tell Him how we are feeling, or to ask for help. The more you do it, the more likely it will become a habit. For instance, for a scraped knee: “God please comfort Wendy, take away the pain and let her heal quickly”; a scary dream or thought: “Lord give peace and comfort to Wendy and chase away the scary thoughts and fill her thoughts with funny memories”; a lost item: “Lord, remind us that we can come to you with the small things and the large things.  “Help us find Wendy’s car keys”; an illness: “Lord, heal Wendy and restore her to full health.” I could go on and on. Use simple, easy prayers that can lead kids to a habit of going to God. After you have a history of praying for everyday opportunities with your children, begin encouraging and coaching them to do it. 

3. Empower kids to use their personalities. God made us all uniquely and he loves and interacts with us uniquely. He delights in our uniqueness and intends for us to use our personalities, likes, gifts and interests when interacting with Him and His word. What does your child enjoy? Music, dance, art, puzzles? How does your child learn? Hands on, by reading, listening, talking, moving? Use what you know about your child to help them find enjoyable ways to interact with God. Are they theatrical?  Challenge them to “act out” a Bible story as you read it or put together a skit showing how a scripture could be applied to our world. Do they love music? Use your smart phone to pull up some instrumental music to play while you talk to God together or encourage them to write their own worship song. Draw pictures, develop hand motions to scripture, sing, dance, etc. Help kids see how they can use what they love and who they are when interacting with God.  

4. Pray scripture. Read a scripture and then help your child pray it back to God in their own words and apply it to what is going on in their life. For example: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
Pray it back: “God I am worried about the upcoming speech I have to give in English and I am afraid that I will forget what I want to say and the kids will laugh at me. Please take these worries from me and let me rest in you. Be with me as I give my speech. I love you. Amen.” 

5. Bless your kids.  Build a tradition of blessing your kids each day. Do it when they go off to school or when you tuck them into bed. Make the sign of the cross on their forehead and pray God’s favor and/or protection over them. Examples: “May you experience God’s love in a new and special way today, or may you always remember how much God loves and cherishes you,” etc. You can even encourage your kids to bless you.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18

“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;   turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 17:6

 If you are looking for resources with ideas on building faith in kids visit homefrontmag.com.

 

SO WHERE IS GOD SENDING YOU?

Ever fear that God would send you somewhere or ask you to do far more than you could ever imagine? Well, that's part of my story. 

I remember when I first started out in ministry. I knew I wanted to help other people meet Jesus, grow to know Him better and to follow Him. But deep down, I thought to myself, "Please, Lord, I never want to go to Africa!" Why I chose to pray about Africa, I don't know. I really knew nothing about this far land or the people who called this continent "home". It just seemed far away and very different from what I was used to. 

For many years, He didn't send me there which worked quite well for me because I could say to others, "Don't be afraid to follow Jesus. I'm sure you think you'll have to pack your bags and off you go to a "mission" field far away. But, NO, God has a plan for you right where you are with your family and friends." 

That actually worked for quite awhile, but I realized a few years later, that my "mantra" was only a half-truth. God did use me at home and in my surrounding community for quite awhile until the day Pastor Steve asked me to co-lead a trip to Africa. 

You might suspect that I had a heart attack right on the spot, but I didn't. Immediately, I responded with a resounding, "YES!" I'm not quite sure when the transformation happened, but I had no fear and not a second of hesitation. God was calling ME to Africa. 

So there I went. In Ethiopia, I found parents who loved and cared for their children and hoped they could be educated so they could have a better life. There are families who lived together and took care of one another. AND, there were many people who were faithful, who loved Jesus and who trusted the same God that I do. Under our skin and without the burden of our circumstances, we had the same hearts that God created and loves.

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That was just the beginning and now He's paving a way for me, and for Northgaters, to experience the people of Haiti. I joined a Healing Haiti mission group from Albuquerque last June to begin the training process to share this experience with the youth and adults of Northgate. There I had the same experience as in Debre Zeit. Hope. Love. Pain. Courage. Joy. Men. Women. Children. All the same hopes and dreams that we have! Right after I got back, I heard the song, WHAT IF by Five for Fighting. Yeah, so true...lots can happen if we just take someone's hand...

So when did this "heart" change occur? I think slowly and step by step. Perhaps it started in my younger years when my parents showed respect and honor to the migrant workers who came through our city. Perhaps it was when I dove into poetry by people of color when I was in high school. Maybe taking the steps to sponsor children in the Dominican Republic, India, and Ethiopia has made a mark. Perhaps financially supporting efforts of micro businesses in other countries, most recently last year in Debre Zeit, have planted seeds of understanding and hope, replacing the fear that once occupied that space. All I know is that my world seems larger, my heart bigger and my curiosity and thirst for understanding people HERE, THERE, and EVERYWHERE has provided me with so much joy!

So where or what is the next step God is challenging you to take? How is He transforming YOUR heart? My hope is that in one way HE is asking you to be part of the current Northgate campaign to help build the fence for the newly purchased farm in Haiti. Working together, we can all have an impact, link by link, meter by meter, and in the processwe'll witness our love spread across the ocean in a very tangible way. 

7 Ways to Make Her Glad She Married You

On Saturday, October 7, Northgate is hosting a marriage seminar. We'll be talking about how good things can go bad--like marriages. You can register online here. My mentor, Paul Anderson, blogged about marriage a few years back. His website is: pastorpaulanderson.com. Guys, this one's especially for you!

1. KEEP PURSUING HER.

Many men quit. Creates lonely wives. Glad someone told me to date Karen. Even when we were having kids, lots of them, we managed to get away for a walk. One rule: no talking business. Now it’s a bigger deal. I am careful about spending money. Dates are an exception. Out of 52 weeks we manage 46 dates on the average. Helps to keep the fire burning. One guy described his marriage as a hot bath--just keeps cooling off. Hey Pardner, ever heard of romance?

2. LISTEN. SUPPORT.

Champion her cause, even if it’s not yours. She needs your vote. Let her know you are for her. She wants affirmation more than advice. The more you support her the more she will support you. Marriage is not two people doing their own thing. If she doesn’t feel your support, she will quit talking. Not a good thing. Everyone has a cause. Fight for hers. You’re on the same team.

3. ACCEPT. DON’T CHANGE.

I learned the hard way. I told engaged couples, “Don’t get hitched at the altar if you have the itch to alter.” Then I got married. I didn’t heed my own counsel. It doesn’t feel good for a wife to feel like his agenda is to change her. When I finally realized what I was doing, I acknowledged it, said I wouldn’t do it anymore--and I don’t. I married her to love her, not to change her. What an insult! God forgave me and so did she. Now I change me and love her.

4. DON’T CONTROL.

It is not the same as changing, but it feels similar. A lot of controlling people in marriages. I hope you’re not one of them. Even God doesn’t control me. He influences me through love. He is the most powerful person in the universe--and the least controlling. Satan wants to control us. Does that give you a clue?

5. DIE TO YOURSELF.

I finally learned this. It was the best advice I ever received. It came from Jesus to would-be disciples: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” I take it seriously. I die to myself for my wife. Karen is grateful, because I have learned to serve her rather than expecting her to serve me. I have made it one of my highest goals--to lay down my life for my wife. I got a late start, but I’m getting there.

6. LIVE ABOVE OFFENSE.

Hard to do but worth learning. I needed to adjust and quit being defensive. It was getting me into difficulty way too often. In my old age I have come to the place where it is hard for Karen to offend me. Not a bad way to live. Can’t say that about the early years. Better than being touchy about everything and reacting rather than responding. To do it well, you need a good forgiver.

7. GIVE HER TIME.

Time says, “I love you.” Time says, “You’re worth every minute.” If you are rushing, she knows you are just waiting to get to your own special hobby, and she comes in second. Treat her as an equal and she’ll treat you with respect.  “The heart of her husband trust in her” (Prov. 31:11). So go home and be fun to live with.

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