I had the blessing of growing up in a Christian home. My dad was a pastor, which made me a PK (pastor’s kid). I was continually surrounded by prayer, Scripture and biblical teaching. I remember as a little girl praying to receive Jesus as my Savior, and yet I also remember struggling to feel like I was really saved for many years. I feared if I would die, I would go to hell and suffer for eternity. I would ask Jesus into my heart several times over the years and then feel guilty because I had already asked and would wrestle over my lack of faith and belief.
The Lord ended up leading me to college at Moody Bible Institute and I will forever be thankful for listening to His prompting to go there. My foundation for understanding Scripture was strengthened, my love for God increased, my faith deepened and I met Mark, my husband there: a major bonus!
My faith began to grow as I learned more of Who God was and is.
Mark 9:23-24 says, “Jesus said, ...‘All things are possible for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief.'"
I am sure I heard this verse many times growing up but it wasn’t until I was a bit older that this specific cry of the father to Jesus penetrated my heart. As this prayer began to settle in my heart, the Lord used this to breathe life into my prayer and deepen my faith.
My faith journey continues and now that I have children, one of my biggest prayers has been for them to have a big, strong faith! I am continually trying to love, grow, teach, nurture, discipline, strengthen, encourage and ready my girls for each day of life they are given. My heart longs for my girls to continue and develop their own faith and grow mightily in the Lord. What does it look like to cultivate and grow their faith in the everyday routine of life?
I wish there was a cookie cutter answer, but the reality is, each child, each parent, each home, each circumstance, each life that we live, is different. Therefore we interact and teach them according to our present life environment and culture. Although we are all different, thankfully God is not; He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore.
Here are three ways to help cultivate and develop a deeper faith for our children:
Pray with them. Your children have such a sensitivity to the heart of the Lord. Matthew 18:2 “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” What profound truth this Scripture reveals for our kids’ hearts: they are ready to hear from the Lord. Pray over them, pray for them and have them pray out loud. Let them hear you pray for them in a deep way. Pray for things that are going on in your lives that are difficult and they will learn to pray in these situations as well. We are teaching them what prayer looks like by how we pray with them and for them.
Be willing to discuss prayer requests and answered prayers. If we are willing to pray through deeper, real life issues and needs with our children, then we need to be willing to discuss when we are waiting to hear from God and when He answers those prayers. God always answers prayers, maybe not in the way we desire, or even in our timing, but He does answer. So, it’s important for our children and their growing faith to talk about how God is at work in it all. We need to have daily reminders of God’s character and how He doesn’t change even if we are in the “waiting period” of a prayer request. I remember countless times talking with the girls after we prayed for God to provide a specific job we were all wanting for Mark. While we were waiting, we all prayed and cried out for the Lord’s provision every morning for this job. The Lord gave me wisdom to talk with them after every single time, explaining if God didn’t decide to provide this job we all wanted, He was still good and faithful and would provide something even better. It ended up not being the job God provided and yet because of the continual open dialogue with the girls, their faith was not shaken. Of course there was great disappointment and pain, but their faith grew through this.
Scripture memory. Have your children memorize God’s Word! My father is a first generation believer and as early as I can remember he taught us Bible verses that we recited every night. He was teaching us to hide God’s Word in our hearts. I can’t even tell you how many verses I have memorized from this practice with my dad, and what a blessing it is when God brings them to mind. I will always have those Scripture verses resonating within my heart. I was deeply convicted that I wanted to continue the legacy my father started when we had our own children, and teach them Bible verses to hide in their hearts. My girls were about 2 when they memorized their first verse. I still have them recite 3 verses every night and we continue to learn new ones. When we were going through a hard time as a family in transition, we even had a family memory verse that we would talk about with them. Scripture memory is powerful and helps solidify our faith.
There are many different ways to help cultivate faith in the heart of a child. I hope and pray as you wrestle through how God wants you to nurture your own child’s faith, that this is a springboard to further explore what God has for you as a parent. Blessings to you!