Thursday, March 1, 2012

Teaching Children to Pray

By Julie Sanders

As I peeled our toddler from my body and thrust her into the nursery, I straightened my hair, breathed deeply, and wondered if separation anxiety would last into college. Fears showed up at the worst times, and I was at a loss for how to help her trust God in times apart.

I remembered calling out to God when strong waves pulled my childhood body away from my mother on the beach. My newly believing mom taught me quickly how to pray. How do children learn to talk to God on their own and trust Him in life’s current? How do we move from bedtime prayers to personal prayers?

Giving kids a head start in talking to God is a mother’s goal, so our little ones learn to turn to their Heavenly Father on their own. A mom with a heart for personal prayer can pass it on to her children.

Since we know children need to live healthy lives, we teach them to eat and exercise. Since we know they need to care for themselves, we teach them to tie their shoes. Since we know life brings waves of challenges, we need to teach them how to call out to God. We can show children prayer is personal, spontaneous, and effective. We can teach them to pray on their own.

All children experience fears, including darkness, strangers, or separation. These opportunities show children prayer is a personal way to answer fear. Children learn that, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3 ESV).

Making it personal:

Take sequential pictures of your child with a frightened face, a thoughtful expression, a bowed head, and a smiling face. Use pictures to make a wordless book together, training your child to pray when they experience fear. Show them that trusting God brings comfort.

Instead of reserving prayer for special buildings, help children learn prayer is for any time or place. Prayer can be spontaneous. Life with little ones provides endless opportunities to stop and “Pray now:” a hurt friend at play group, a decision at a toy store, a passing ambulance, a lost kitten. Model spontaneous prayer, then guide your child to stop and “Pray now.” At the very moment of need, show them you can talk to God and ask for His help. Your example trains them to be comfortable with immediate prayer and helps them get in the habit of turning to Him for themselves.

Making it spontaneous:

Find a park bench to sit down, pull into a parking lot, or pause in a grocery aisle to pray when prompted. Show your child God is always ready to hear you. After your child is comfortable with impromptu prayer, ask them to pray. Hold their hand as physical reinforcement.

Show your child prayer is effective by pointing out and giving credit to God for answers. Don’t let opportunities pass when He meets a need, gives wisdom, or provides comfort. Rejoice specifically about God hearing and answering. Your praise reinforces your child’s confidence in prayer’s effectiveness, confidence that helps her learn to turn to God all on her own.

Showing it’s effective:

Draw a picture together of answers you experience together. Call Daddy or a relative to share the praise. Stop and give thanks to God for hearing and answering. Get a “recipe style” book, so you can draw pictures on 3x5 cards and slip them in as your little one sees answers. You will have a praise book personal to your family.

Before I started elementary school, my newly believing mother taught me to pray. Months later I was caught in an Atlantic rip current. My fearful mother watched from shore, as rescuers risked their lives for mine, but I was not alone. I was calling out to God with my own voice and from my own heart, because I knew He would hear the prayers of little ones like me. Many waves will wash over our children as they grow, but we can give them the gift of knowing prayer is personal, spontaneous, and effective.

It’s been a long time since I left my writhing girl in ruffled socks in the nursery, and I’ve had many chances to help her make prayer her own since then. Next challenge? Leaving for college. I’m so glad she’s learned to turn to God on her own. We can equip our kids for whatever they’ll face when we pass on personal prayer.

Julie Sanders is a Women’s Ministry leader who loves to share God’s word with women in her hometown and around the world in a way that shows truth applies to life. She keeps busy and prayerful with her husband and two teenagers and looks forward to camping in the spring. Julie is a graduate of She Speaks and blogs daily at Come Have a Peace.

When God Tells You...

By Brenda Flury Greig

I will make the coffee! I will operate the lights! I will …I kept offering up to God all that I was willing to do, yet He was saying He wanted me to write and speak. As part of this quest, He brought the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference to my attention. That was two years ago.

I reservedly complied by signing up for the conference, along with the speaking critique and a publisher meeting. I felt the whole thing was really out of my realm. You see, as an introvert, I would rather starve than eat at a table with a bunch of strangers, and all meals were provided as part of the conference! Yes, that meant I had an unlimited opportunity to meet women from all over the country…yippee…I sighed sarcastically.

The opening celebration was powerful, with hundreds of women filling the conference full of love and excitement for Christ. The singing shouted to the heavens as each woman poured out her heart, except me. I was the shy, Minnesotan way in the back, singing quietly, knowing that even raising one hand in the air to worship would be way over the top! There I stood. Very nervous, fully certain that everyone else had polished their writing and speaking skills as to be on the brink of the fame. I had come barely prepared.

The usual small talk around the table started and the woman next to me asked, “Are you a speaker or writer?” Choking on my last swig of coffee, I stammered, “neither really, I would just like to make the coffee or something.” Needless-to-say, the conversation stopped in its tracks!

Thankfully, the opening speaker came up on stage to take my mind off myself. She spoke funny, inspiring, caring girl-type words in an attempt to ease the anxiety in the room with assurance that the loving staff, coaches, agents, publishers, and evaluators were all there to help us use our talents to fulfill all that God had in mind for us. I just want to make the coffee, I reminded God.

Off to the first breakout on “Ten Tips to Wow Publishers.” I couldn’t help but think how bizarre it was for me. Here I am in a room with others that know what a publisher, editor, and agent do! I had a rough idea …but still just wanted to make coffee. The next breakout told us how to promote our book. The steps included speaking engagements and the development of a blog…a what? I didn’t even know what that was!

Leaving the room at the end of that session, I realized I wasn’t really hungry so I could skip lunch and go back to my hotel room for a minute. Well, minutes turned to hours and yes, I hid out in my hotel room for the rest of the conference! I reminded God that He made me this shy introvert, so I think its best I just stay home to care for my husband and occasionally volunteer at church. Assured that He understood the wisdom in my reasoning I comfortably got back on the plane to return to my safety net. Ahhhh.

Afterwards, I was convicted numerous times by the Holy Spirit about my disobedience. Recently, while facilitating a Twelve Step group, everyone fell silent when asked to share a time of obedience or disobedience in their life. In an attempt to spur conversation, I shared about the clear directive I heard from God and my subsequent decision to hide out in my hotel room. One of the participants replied, “You never know, God is a God of second chances.” I chuckled and moved on.

That night I arrived home and checked my emails to discover the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference Director was announcing the conference had been full but now had a limited number of openings! I thought “No….you’ve got to be kidding!” Out of curiosity I checked the costs of the flight, hotel and conference to discover it would be approximately $1,400. “Well, there you have it,” I proclaimed. We don’t have an extra $14 dollars let alone $1,400 so that’s it! While lying in bed, I shared the story with my husband and he agreed there was surely not $1,400 somewhere in our budget. Relieved, I claimed the day and went off to sleep.

The next evening my husband came home from work and said, “Honey, you know those two people I recruited and hired at work? Well Human Resources told me today that there is a $700 recruiting bonus for each one!” I stood in silence staring at him. No matter how I calculated it, $700 plus $700 equaled $1,400. Yikes.

Quietly, but with a stern intent, my husband said, “I believe God wants you to go to that conference.” I stuttered and stammered questioning the validity of that conclusion. In another attempt to sway his thinking, I reminded him that his Jeep needs air conditioning and wouldn’t he rather have air in the Jeep? The answer remained…no. I was to go to the conference…again.

On the first morning of the conference, I found myself having breakfast with about eight other women. The question of prior attendance came up and everyone else was attending for the first time. When I mentioned this was my second time, they all fixated on me intently and began asking what it was like, was the writing critique hard, did I have a meeting with a publisher, etc. I proceeded to share from my heart what God had called me to do two years ago and how I had disobeyed. I shared my regret and sadness over disappointing Him; and how I ended up here today. It was as if God put His arms around each and every woman at the table and said “Be strong for I am with you!”

It was a magnificent conference and I have been blessed many times over for my obedience to Him. I continue to write and submit articles on a regular basis. My greatest desire, to write a book, is in the making. So when God tells you to do something, just do it!

Brenda Flury Greig has been described as passionate, inspiring and very authentic. She is a devoted follower of Christ who delights in leading Bible Studies, facilitating Twelve Step groups and walking one-on-one with others in their journey to sobriety. Brenda lives in Minnesota with her husband and their German Shepherds and Yorkies.

Easy Entertaining Recipes

By LeAnn Rice

Looking for some easy recipes for your next get together? Here are two of my favorites.

Honey Ham Biscuits

1 package Bisquick honey-butter biscuit mix
1 container honey nut or pineapple cream cheese spread
Sliced ham

Prepare the biscuit dough according to package directions. Gently roll out the dough as directed on package. Cut biscuits with 1½-inch biscuit cutter and bake, according to package directions or until golden.

Split the biscuits with a serrated knife and spread both sides with cream cheese. Place ham between layers and sandwich together.

These can be prepared ahead of time and wrapped in foil. Heat in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.

Icing-In-The-Cake German Chocolate Cake

1 (18.25 oz) German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 (15 oz) Coconut-Pecan Frosting
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. This can be made in either a 9” x 13” pan or Bundt pan. Baking time is the same on either one.

Mix all ingredients (including the icing), in mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack and allow cooling for 10 minutes. Invert onto serving plate and dust with powdered sugar.

LeAnn Rice shares recipes and menu ideas along with a helping of grace through her food site, She lives in North Carolina with her teenage son, Nick, who sadly prefers frozen pizza to his mom’s cooking experiments.