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The 7 hour challenge to a closer relationship with God

I’ve really been feeling convicted recently to spend more time with God.  I’ve been running around doing, but not being still and listening to Jesus.

Be Still and Know that I am God

The verse in Psalms has been on my mind which says “Be still and know that I am God” along with the story of Martha and Mary found in Luke:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I’m a doer by nature.  Given a choice between sitting or doing, I’ll be doing any day, but that has not helped my relationship with God, or other people but that’s another story.  I’ve felt separated from God, lost because I’m not spending time with him.  My relationship had stopped being personal and started to become something I do, but God has been calling me.  I’ve felt his urging to bring back my heart and walk with him in a relationship that is personal, to spend time praying, and just to be silent and know for myself that our relationship is real.

The 7 hour challenge

That is when I started thinking about the 7 hour challenge.  I probably took the idea from the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss or the 7 habits of highly effective people.  Wherever the idea came from I felt God telling me that I was spending to much time on things that don’t matter and not focused on the one thing that does.

I feel God calling; spend time with me so I committed to spend an hour a day with Him.  I don’t feel him asking me to put a stop watch on our time but to spend time on our relationship.  It is not about a legalistic time but  that my heart and mind should be focused on Him.  I’m spending time reading, praying, memorizing Scripture, writing,  listening to Christian music, walking and watching Christian videos.  Francis Chan is one of my favorite Christian speakers so I included one of his about living the Christian life.  Adam and Eve spent every evening walking with God in the Garden.  It must have been an amazing time since there was not yet sin to separate them from God.

As I’ve been spending more time with God I’ve found my relationship with Him getting closer.  My desire to spend my time doing other things has decreased and my desire to love and serve God seems to be growing, if not every day then every week.  I’ve found my focus to be getting better also.

I’m challenging you to spend 7 hours a week with God and see if your life changes also.  Sometimes you might have to force yourself to spend the time.  I personally have not, at least not yet but I’ve found that the more time I spend with him the greater the change in my life.

Jesus has called us to go make disciples and I’m feeling like the most effective way to start is by allowing God to fill my heart and mind.  When Christians start having a relationship with Jesus that causes their life to change, people will notice and I believe they will be drawn toward the fire that is now burning in our lives.

So I challenge you.  Start spending an hour a day with God and see if your life does not erupt from a small flame to a blazing fire, changing your life and the lives of those around you.  If you also feel convinced that God is calling you to spend more time with Him, take the challenge with me.  Put a comment below and share this post with your friends.  Maybe God is taking to them also.

May the fire of God settle in on your life so that you experience it lighting up your life.

Teaching Children to Pray: lessons, videos, crafts

Teaching Children To Pray

Teaching children to pray is critical in helping them develop a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

teaching children to pray

Here are some tips to help you teach children how to pray.

For younger kids teach them to pray out loud at first. Your child may not yet understand what praying is so try replacing the word “prays” with the word “talks.” Encourage them to talk with God. It is said of men of old that they walked and talked with God.

Teaching your children love and patience is important when they are learning to pray. These two virtues when practiced keep our hearts soft and teachable. The prophet Samuel was able hear the still small voice of the Lord because his heart was teachable.

Part of praying is asking the Lord to meet our needs. When we teach children that God loves them, we help them feel positive and hopeful about their future. Their prayers will be more uplifting and from the heart.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe and God’s love for us made it possible to have a relationship with Him.  When children are little they may not understand the word “love” but they certainly understand the emotion. You have been there for them from the beginning and you can share with them how God has been there for both of you.

Adults have learned that God may not immediately answer our prayers or answer them in the way we prayed for.  A child, however, has not yet learned this, therefore, we need to teach them patience.

Children can learn to be patient when we set a good example. When I look at the times I become impatient I see an opportunity to teach my children. When I am driving for example, I do not have to be the first person to arrive.  You can share with your children that this is patience. You are willing to wait a little longer to arrive at your destination just like you are willing to wait on the Lord.

When we teach our children to pray we also need to teach them about love. God does not always answer our prayers as we would like, but we can teach children that God loves us no matter what happens.   Sometimes we have to wait for the answer and sometimes the answer is not what we had prayed for.

Even Jesus did not always get the answer he would have liked.  When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed: “My Father, if possible, don’t make me drink from this cup.  But do what you want, not what I want.”  It is hard for adults to understand why our prayers are not answered in the way we wish and it is even more difficult for children but we have to teach them that God is love and that no matter how hard life gets he promises to never leave us or forsake us.

Discussing spiritual matters with young ones can be a challenge. If you have ever attempted it, you know that their insatiable curiosity will lead them to ask many questions which might end up stumping you. So when you are teaching your children to pray, you will have to be very strategic about it.

To start with, you should pray with your child on a nightly basis. He or she will be able to learn by example, and in seeing you bring yourself before the Lord, a good example will be set. But this isn’t limited to nightly kneeling sessions by the bed. Teaching prayer is something that should happen in your day-to-day life.  Watch the video below by Mark Schultz called She Was Watching.

Whenever even the smallest blessing occurs, point it out to your children and thank God for it. This will establish with your child that for everything precious in the world, God is to be thanked.

Be aware of when the prayer of your child is answered. It is too easy to pray for something, and then when it happens think something along the lines of “wow, that was lucky!” If you notice that some prayer of your child has come true, make a huge deal of it and show the child the importance of looking for God in daily life.  If your child is old enough to write, start a prayer journal.  This is a great way for kids to remember how God has answered their prayers.  There are many options for creating a prayer journal depending on the age of your child:  Paper, app, web solution.

From the beginning of your child’s life, teach him or her to enjoy the creation that God has given. Point out the sheer natural beauty of the world we live in, and point out how God has given us the gifts to enjoy.  Teach them to be still and listen to God.  Psalms 46:10 says: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Just as you appreciate beauty and miracles through prayer with your children, teach them to use prayer to cope with unpleasant situations. For example, if you pass a car crash, say a quick family prayer. This will teach your child that prayer is multi-faceted, and an outlet for showing gratefulness as well as appealing to God’s good will.  If you take walks with your children pray for the people in the houses you pass.

Teaching children to pray

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says: “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.…”

Every evening, bless and pray over your children. Use the classic blessing before bedtime: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” This will help your children to realize that God is always present and protective.

Prayer, like anything taught to a child, is better taught through actions than by trying to explain. Show your child what it is like to pray on a regular basis. Bring prayer up regularly, and relate it to the current situation. If you can truly impress the importance and the significance of prayer on your child, you will have accomplished a truly great feat as a parent.

Here are some additional resources to help you teach your children to pray.

  • Prayer craft ideas on Pinterest.  1000 ideas that you can use to teach children about prayer.  There are many great ideas on this board.  I encourage you to check it out.
  • Ministry to Children Sunday School lessons on prayer.  Over 75 lessons, videos and crafts that can be used with your children or during Sunday School.  Ministry to Children has in my opinion the best resources available for children on the web and everything is FREE.  Tony is a remarkable person who has created an amazing resource to help raise children that love God and with 9 of his own he uses what he writes about.  If you would like to know more about Tony and Kellie check out their blog and mission work in Haiti.
  • Videos to teach children about prayer.  YouTube is one of my favorite video resources.  There are a ton of videos on children and prayer.  The link I included has 84 videos.  While I did not look at every one the ones I watched before including it in our resources were good, especially for younger children.

We can read the Bible from cover to cover and memorize hundreds of Scriptures but without Love we are nothing.  Prayer opens up our hearts to God.  There is nothing more exciting to me than to see people who are on fire for God, who pray and love God with all their heart, soul and mind, no matter what is going on in their lives.  You can help your child become one of those people who are on fire for God.  May each of our children burn with the love of God.

 

This origami card from Memory Cross is a simple way to help children learn The Lord’s Prayer.