13 Jul 2009

Training my daughter to pray

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
It 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.

Psalm 119:9-16

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.


  1. 2 suggestions: one make a scrapbook or notebook "Prayer Journal" with pictures and a prayer list--make it as varied as you want--family w/pictures, govt, Church, whatever:

    Here's a kit you can buy


    Here's one free one you can print


    And, 2 teach her the ACTS mode

    [Big words to build her vocabluary]

  2. Jeanne, I will pray and believe with you for the Lord to give you (and me) clear guidance. I think it must be every Mothers heart ache, to see their children walking with the Lord. Lot's of hugs and kisses xxoo

  3. That intangible something, that cannot be ticked off in a box, or measured with a test or assignment, and yet is more important than anything we can measure.

    I have been struggling myself with similar questions of late. Thankyou for sharing this.

    Sometimes it is nice to know we share similar struggles, even though we cannot always share answers.

  4. Hi Jeanne,

    I understand what you are saying.
    I guess I've always read that scripture to mean that my job was to "train" and the rest is upto God. As long as I'm doing the best I can to train Rebekah and leave her in His capable hands, she will follow Him out of her own will eventually!
    One scripture that was revelation to me when she was about two was Gen 17:7 " I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you." I like the second part of that, it's part of His covenant with me to be a God to me and to my descendants after me! I speak that over Rebekah often and thank God that He has promised to be her God and the God of my descendants. I know in time that will happen.
    My 2 cents:)

    You are doing a great job with Jemimah! Keep up the good work! I admire your faith and your pioneering spirit!


  5. I just re-read your post a second time, sorry, I didn't fully get what you were saying when I wrote the above comment in a hurry:(

    It's difficult to "wait" to see the fruits of what we are doing isn't it!
    I often have to encourage myself with what I am doing, to look at the big picture, think long term. Our human tendency is to want instant results.

    However, I just wanted to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. I've often read your blog and looked at Jemimah's picture and thought of what a blessed girl she is to have you as her mum! I really mean it when I say that!

  6. Never weary in well doing!
    I think this is one of the things God has designed to keep US on our knees. I have had all the memory verses, the catechisms, the outward obedience and compliance but still not seen an inward change of heart. As home based mums we put a lot of emphasis on this but when it doesn't happend the way we hoped and dreamed we are left to cast ourselves, and our beloved children upon the Lord.
    May the Lord bless you and your precious Jemimah, that she may truly KNOW him.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement girls - and your especially nice words, joyfulmum.

    I guess I was just having a dismal blue funk last night.

  8. I put my children to bed just after reading your post last night then stayed up to consider your words and your emotions. Like Rosemary, I often refer back to God's covenant promise for my family.

    As the psalmist said, "Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this." I read that the Greek actually is "roll your way to the Lord" so I imagine letting a burden roll off my back to Him. Jeanne, my friend, you put those bulbs in the ground in your garden and trust them to flower without digging them up. Commit and trust.

    Anytime but oh, especially in those dark times, we, like Esther can approach the King with a pure motive and the hope of mercy and receive what we ask.

    Ah, too much more I would like to write. I have been telling the Lord lately just how much I want to live a true life of prayer.

  9. Never weary is doing good has been my mantra for many years. I have 3 almost all grown up children all following the Lord with beautiful hearts but there have been times of dispair and I guess there will be again because life is life and I am me. I'm beginning again with my baby - almost 3 and for now it is prayer that he might be Mighty for the Lord and I also have daily pray for various points that I pray for each of my children. As John said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
    Keep up the good work - God is a rewarder of those who seek Him.


  10. OOoh, I love your blog!! Wonderful post.

  11. Heartfelt post. Thanks for sharing. I think all of us have those questions/concerns sometimes. With Lindsey now in our family, I am having trouble reconciling myself to the fact that I missed the 1st 14 years and there is no way to make that up; I have just got to trust Him to take care of the things I can't. And the things I can't would make a long, long list.
    ((HUGS)) from one mom to another. ♥


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...