Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6It seems that since I've become a homeschooling mum, this verse from Proverbs has become most particularly familiar. I've heard it, read it, blogged it and quoted it to others. It is sort of the homeschooling mantra. And yet often I consider what exactly it means. Am I doing the best I can to train up my daughter so that when she is grown she will walk the very path that Jesus walked; the path to Heaven? Could I do more?
Now I know that I am training Jemimah to know God's word.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
Teaching the word is achievable and measurable. I can count the number of memory verses Jemimah knows; I can drill her in her Scripture catechisism - and in the Shorter Westminster catechism. I can teach her the Metrical Psalms.
Most importantly I can read the Bible to her until the time comes that she can read it herself.
I can teach her that the Bible is the word of God; not man, and I can teach her that it is all useful 'for correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness. I can teach her to read it every day, and I can demonstrate that habit in my own life for her to follow.
I take care to fill Jemimah's mind with Scripture awaiting the time when the Holy Spirit will take her heart, convict her of the truth and lead her to him.
I can do all of this because I can see it. I can write it all on a plan for the term and tick it off at the end.
But that is not all the writer of Proverbs is encouraging us to do in that verse, is it? Like the ad says,
But wait! There's more!
I've been thinking recently of the need of training my child to pray. Show me a praying man and I will show you a true believer. A person who brings it all to his Father in prayer - his wants, his needs, his fears, his joy and his pain - a person who enters into private and personal communication with God not only daily but continually - is a growing Christian, one who is being sanctified and one who is bearing fruit.
This is what I want for Jemimah. But how do I do this? How can I teach her to pray?
I can show her. I can let her see that prayer is important in her Daddy's and my lives. I can teach her to pray reverently. All too often our Call to Worship prayer is chanted out as quickly as possible so that she can go back to her meal or whatever it is she's doing. I can teach her to slow down and speak clearly; to ensure that she's really speaking to her Father in heaven when she prays.
I can teach her what to say and the variety of prayers she can use - intercessionary prayers, worship prayers, prayers of thanksgiving. I can teach her to confess her sins to him and ask him for forgiveness and cleansing. I can teach her some 'form' prayers - The Lord's Prayer and our homeschool verse:
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 118:18
I can remind her to pray if I see her becoming careless and lazy. I can encourage her.
But somehow I feel that I'm not doing enough. Somehow I feel that something is missing. And so I am taking my concerns to my Heavenly Father in prayer myself. I am seeking his advice and instruction.
I am impatient. I want to see Jemimah bearing fruit now. I get so frustrated when I don't see success right away. I want something measurable - a list that I can tick as being completed. I find it difficult to persevere. I don't want to wait for the fulfilment of the promise 'when she is old' - I want it now.
Right now I'm just feeling discouraged.
Thanks for listening.