Spiritual Formation in Our Children
As parents each of us faces the challenge of providing spiritual guidance for our children: encouraging the formation of their lives into the image of Christ. We walk the thin line of assisting in the breaking of their will without crushing their spirit. We all enter parenthood with expectations, plans and strategies — and some of them actually work.
Dr. David Jeremiah said in his book, Exposing the Myths of Parenthood, “When I began in the ministry, I had four theories on child-raising and no children; now I have four children and no theories.” I am not using this as an excuse for children who go astray but we need to remember that children have a free will just as we do and they engage that freedom as they grow older.
One of the great truths I have learned over the years is that God lends us our children. Little did I know that the day I prayed the following verse over my daughter as a new born in the hospital that I would have to pray it again at her grave side.
1 Samuel 1:27-28 – For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.
I want to suggest three simple statements about how to approach Spiritual Formation with our children.
1. Children: Boundaries and Instruction (Dependence) – Formal training can never take the place of family living; they watch our lives more than listening to our words.
2. Teens: Freedom with Limits (Independence) – Give them some new freedoms and do not confuse their desire for independence with a lack of love or trust in you.
3. Young Adults: Counsel without Control (Interdependence) – At some point we have to realize that they have to make their own decisions and that the Word of God will not return void (see Isaiah 55:10-11).
I would like to suggest some verses to pray through for your children that I pray each day for mine substituting their names: (check out the entire passage)
Ephesians 1:17-19 – That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you (name) the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him…
1 Chronicles 29:19a – And give my son (children-names) Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things…
Parenting is never over…it never stops. Our role will change but we will never stop parenting. We need to have a life-long commitment to spiritual formation in our children. For some who are away from God that will be purely through prayer.