Monday, August 9, 2010

"Teaching Our Children to Walk With God" by Shiela Catanzarite

Dear friends,

How about some real encouragement today!  Jeannie Fulbright ( sent this article out in her Jeannie's Journal newsletter a couple of years ago, and I recently found the copy I had printed out for my notebook.  The author, Shiela Catanzarite, has graciously given me permission to share this with you.  I asked Shiela for a little bit of information on her family, and she wrote: "We live in the Atlanta area and are part of a large homeschool group called CHEER. We've homeschooled for 8 years and have two daughters who will be in 7th and 6th grade this year. My husband is Bruce, and we are members of Perimeter Church. Bruce and I met in Russia where we were missionaries with the CoMission."

Read carefully -- there are so many nuggets of truth in this goldmine!

Teaching Our Children to Walk With God

by Shiela Catanzarite

When your children leave home and you have fulfilled the call to train them up in the way in which they should go, what fruit will be evident in their lives? What overriding qualities will they possess? In what ways will they be equipped to fulfill the call God has on their lives?

Think of the amount of time you invest in your children. How is it spent? For most families today, much time is invested in pursuing extracurricular activities for their children. After all, shouldn’t they have the best education and the advantage in sports? Shouldn’t they possess a proficiency in music and a “well rounded” personality, among other things? Off we go, researching schools, music teachers and sports programs in order to ensure that our children have the best possible instruction available. We take them to social events and special outings, not wanting them to miss out on any enrichment opportunity being offered. We spend our afternoons and weekends driving to and fro, believing (or at least hoping) that we are giving our children the very best, leaving no activity unattended, no opportunity un-pursued. But in the long run, in light of eternity, will our children really be better off? To be sure, investing time in these areas is important. God has created each of our children unique and we should be good stewards of their gifts, passions and talents. But when the day is done, what will matter most in their lives? Which investment will truly enable them to “walk in a manner worthy of their calling?”

Undoubtedly, teaching our children to know and walk with God is the most important investment we can make in their lives, for the Lord says, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord." Jeremiah 9:23-24

God’s priority for our children is for them to know Him personally~to know His lovingkindness, His character~to walk with Him all the days of their lives. As mothers, it is vital that we invest time in helping our children to know the Lord and nurture their relationship with Him. But how do we do this? In what practical ways can we teach our children to walk with God? Here are 5 suggestions:

1. Model for them what it means to know and seek God

Growing up in a home with a mother who has as her priority to know and walk with God is invaluable to the spiritual nurture of her children, for she cannot impart to them what she, herself, does not possess. Ps. 27: 4 says, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” There is nothing that will make a more significant spiritual impression on the hearts of your children than for them to see you seeking this “one thing,” to observe you beholding the beauty of the Lord in your own life. In the busyness of home and family preparations, it’s easy to get distracted from our relationship with the Lord, but it is essential that we take time each day to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to His word, for He Himself says that it is the only thing that is really necessary (Luke 10:42). When our children remember us, may they call to mind a godly example of a mother whose priority was to know and seek God.

2. Involve them in your walk with God

Part of the exhortation to parents in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 includes sharing our own walk with God. You see, if His teachings are upon our hearts, then we will naturally share them with our children as we walk along the way. Talk about what God is doing in your own life, sharing the specific promises and scriptures with which He is encouraging you. Let your children in on your prayer requests so they can rejoice with you as they observe God’s faithfulness to answer; and be sure to model repentance and ask for their forgiveness when needed. What a gift it will be to your children if you give them the opportunity to share in your walk with God. In this, they will experience, alongside of you, what it means to truly know Him.

3. Teach them to hear and follow the Shepherd’s voice

Most of us can remember at least one time when our children, in response to our instruction, asked, “But, why mom?” in which we emphatically replied, “Because I said so, that’s why!” The issue at hand is not “because I said so” but “because God said so.” As our children mature, they need to learn to go directly to the Lord for instruction for He is their ultimate authority. As moms, we have the privilege of taking them to God’s Word and teaching them to seek out His truths for themselves. Begin by choosing a book of the Bible. Each day, read a passage out loud with your children and ask questions, modeling how to dig deeper into the truths of God‘s Word. Pray for wisdom and insight into what the truths mean. Spend time thanking God for what He has shown you, asking Him to weave these truths into your hearts and lives. Discuss practical applications. When your children are ready, have them read passages silently from their own Bibles. Then give them an opportunity to share which verses were particularly meaningful to them. This encourages them to glean their own insights and excites them as they hear the Lord speak directly to their hearts. Don’t forget to highlight for them scriptures that God spoke to you about. Begin simply and as they mature, introduce more formal Bible study methods and aids. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27. Teaching your children to not only hear the Shepherd’s voice, but follow Him, is one of the greatest ways to nurture their walks with God.

4. Pray with them and for them

My husband and I pray over our children every night. We weren’t far into parenthood before we realized that our confidence in them becoming all God wanted them to be depended on God’s faithfulness and not our parenting. Yes, He uses us as parents but the greater spiritual work to be accomplished in our children’s hearts and lives is wrought through prayer. What a privilege we have been given! Praying the Scriptures over our children is powerful. In addressing the issue of spiritual warfare in the life of the believer, Paul gives this exhortation in Ephesians 6:18, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Our prayers for our children are vital for their spiritual protection. Choose specific scriptures to pray that address struggles or needs in their lives or ones that portray godly qualities you want to see adorning them. When your children are suffering anxiety or are experiencing need, pray with them. Take them to God’s Word and find promises that address their hurts and fears. Pray these promises over them. Write down requests that you are praying for them in your own prayer journal. When answers come, write them down next to the request and show your children how God answered. They will know how deeply you love them, and they will know how intimately involved and interested God is in the details of their lives. Wise is the mother who builds the heritage of prayer in the life of her children. Taking them to the throne of God will accomplish more in nurturing their walks with Him than could ever be accomplished through any effort of your own.

5. Encourage them to journal

Many of the deeply spiritual Christians we admire have kept a journal of some kind. Whether it is a record of prayer requests, reflections from time in the scriptures or simply a pouring out of your heart to God, journaling is a wonderful way to enrich your walk with the Lord. In Psalm 25, David “journals” his heart-thoughts to God. “To Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in Thee I trust.” David’s prayer continues as he petitions God, praises Him, and affirms his trust in God’s character. David’s thoughts continue to be deeply encouraging to believers today. What a treasure it would be to our children if we encouraged them to begin journaling while they are young. It can be as simple as writing one verse and a prayer or thanking God for a special event that happened in the day. It’s another way to encourage our children to communicate with God, to build their relationship with Him and to strengthen their faith. What a blessing it would be for them to leave home with a chronicle of God’s faithfulness to them throughout their childhood. What confidence it would build in trusting God with their future!

I’ve often thought how different my children’s lives would be if I daily maintained as my priority to deeply know and walk with God~how much more joy and peace they would experience~what a more faithful example they would have to follow. How many times, through tears, I’ve told them that I wish I could be a perfect mommy, that I so wish I could love them perfectly. Then I realize if I could, they would never have the need nor opportunity to seek and know the One who can and does love them perfectly~the One who will never leave them or forsake them~the One who has a special future and hope for their lives. So here is my opportunity, my calling as a mother: to lead them to the Savior, to the One who has created them and redeemed them, the One who has called them for a purpose, the only One who can fill them “with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that [they] may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified [them] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Colossians 1:9-12. Teaching our children to walk with God in this way requires sacrifice. It requires a faithful investment of our time. It requires saying no to good things so that we can pursue what is best. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Eternally worth it.


Thanks, Shiela!

If you would like to read more about the topic of prayer as it relates to mothering our children, click here: Blog posts about prayer on Come Weary Moms

Virginia Knowles

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