“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:5-6
As youth group free time was wrapping up on Wednesday evening, and a few of us moms went looking for our teens to hustle them home, we could not find a couple of the young men from the group. Usually they are the ones who do not play basketball or run around the church wildly, but just hang out talking about this or that and sometimes wander outside to do about the same thing. But, after checking all their usual gathering places, we could not find them. Finally, we asked one of the other teens if they had seen our boys and we were told they were in the back room (a small classroom that the kids usually don't hang out in because they are so cramped).
Our first thought was they were talking about their normal guy things – video games, movies, model building, etc., and had just found a new and a bit more private place to do it. But instead we found a group of 5 young men praying. They were praying for the things they had heavy upon their hearts without anyone standing above them, telling them they needed to do so. I know in our family discussions over the past few weeks, my boys have been heavily burdened about the upcoming elections, the state of our country, the persecution of Christians around the world which we read and talk about each morning, and the dishonoring attitude of people in general towards God and towards their fellow man. During this time, I have watched their private times with the Lord grow in intensity and in conviction and their narrowed focus on the Lord has been evident.
“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Luke 5:16
In my personal life I have made it a discipline to withdraw from the world to pray in solitude, but since I practice this discipline at such an early time in the morning, my children do not witness me doing this. But, I believe that just because my children are not witnesses to my prayer life at 5am every morning, they are not oblivious to it. Over my years of being a mother I have learned that children catch more of who you are and what you show them, then what you try to teach them through words or simple devotionals. They are the utmost authorities on their parents as they subconsciously watch us so as to figure out how they are to interact with the world around them – it is just a natural way for a child to learn.
In a talk I give called Faith Sharing, I talk about how to pass your faith onto your children, and in it I take a lot of time to emphasize to parents that teaching your children about God has more to do with how you perceive Him, how you interact with Him, how you reverence Him, how you call upon Him, how you serve Him, how you are obedient to Him, how you seek Him, how you endure hardships for Him, how you deny yourself for Him, how you worship Him...and the list goes on and on. The question you need to ask yourself in the end is this: Is your faith something that is in line with God's word and is it something you want your children to copy? And although I know I am not perfect in any sense of the word, I make certain my children know I also fail and they are witnesses to the fact that I am humble enough to admit my weaknesses and the forgiveness and grace of God extends to me just as He does to them and everyone else who lives in a fallen state.
“And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.” Luke 9:10
The disciples had Jesus to copy and to study before they were sent out to preach to the world the saving power of His resurrection. The proof that they had been given a worthy example to follow was evident in their lives after their hearts were convicted by the reality of their unique callings and the gifting of the Holy Spirit had come upon them. So too, we as parents are to be those disciplining examples for our children. In being a worthy example, we prepare our children as they get older and come under the conviction of the Lord as to their unique callings and their hearts are gripped by the Holy Spirit who will leads their hearts to come follow Him, they will be able to deny themselves and up their unique cross and follow without hesitation. In doing all we can in our faith lives to live for the Lord and be a light to our children as well as the rest of the world around us, our children become equipped by the example we show them and ready to follow the Lord wherever He calls and whatever He asks of them just as we have done a few steps ahead of them on the road of faith.