From Kay Meyer's column in the St. Louis Metro Voice newspaper from 1994 to 2013.
“Mom, today the new neighbor, Tyler, said he doesn’t attend Sunday school or church. I invited him to come with us this week. Can we pick him up on Sunday?”
“My daughter, Lisa, and the next door neighbor’s little girl are close friends and play together all the time. Yesterday I overheard them talking. Lisa was telling Christy that Jesus loved her. Christy’s dad’s is an alcoholic. Her mother never attends church. It was so exciting to hear my daughter sharing her faith with her friend!”
“Teresa, we’re having a Bible study after school. Would you like to join us?”
And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deut. 6:6-9). God’s word instructs parents to tell their children about the Lord. We also need to help them learn to share their faith! Children and youth have many opportunities to share their faith at school, sports activities, scouting activities, and as they interact with children and youth in the community.
When do we begin? Begin when they are small. Take them to be baptized or dedicate them to the Lord. Take them to church and Sunday school. Sing Christian songs and play Christian music in the home. Read age appropriate Christian books and children Bible stories to them. Allow them to watch Christian video’s and DVD’s. And talk about the Lord as you walk, travel, and talk about your day’s activities.
Recognize that the home is the most difficult place to live the faith. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that they may be healed (James 5:16). Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, and slander. And to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you (Eph. 4:31, 32).
Children need to see their parents model the faith. Living out our Christian faith in the home is not easy. When we fail, which we will as sinners, learn to say, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” They will! And children need to see their parent forgive them when they sin, just as Christ has forgiven us! We need to help our children confess their sins to God. And help them understand that God forgives them because of Christ (John 3:16)!
They also need to see us pray and live our faith! Pray for those who are struggling with illness and problems. Pray for those who do not know Christ. Allow your child to see you reading the Bible, having private and family devotions, and living your faith in the home and the community.
Prayer is an important part of our faith and is where we begin as we teach our children to share their faith. How do we teach our children to pray and rely upon God for all things? Begin when they are small. Encourage them to fold their hands even before they can talk. Soon they will be saying, “Amen” at the end of each prayer. Teach them simple prayers and teach them God’s Word. Use prayers that are age appropriate. My grandson, Seth, and granddaughter, Lizzie, enjoy reciting this simple mealtime prayer. A, B, C, one, two, three, thank you God for feeding me! Amen.
Pray together at mealtime and bedtime. Invite your children to pray for those they know. Encourage them to invite friends to Sunday school and church. Pray for their friends and those who do not know Christ.
Invite different members of the family to lead prayers. Our grandson, Seth, loves to lead the mealtime prayers. One of his favorites is a song sung to the tune of Johnnie Appleseed. “Oh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun, the rain, and the apple trees, the Lord is good to me. Amen.”
Last time my husband and I visited our daughter and son-in-law they had a prayer cube on the dining room table. It is made of construction paper. Scotch tape is used to hold it together. The children colored it before my daughter wrote different prayers on each side of the cube. One side said, “Make up a mealtime prayer.” Another side had the common table prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” The child throws the cube to see which prayer will be recited by the family together or said by the prayer leader. Here are directions and prayers: https://familyshieldministries.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Prayersforcube.pdf
Another prayer activity that helps children learn to pray is to make a prayer chain. I use these for family devotions. Small strips of paper are cut and distributed. The paper should be about 2 ½ inches by 8 inches. Each person is asked to write a prayer on the paper. Adults can help the children write their prayer. After they are written each person shares what they have written. Then the slips of paper are stapled into circles, one inside the other. And these prayer chains are put up in the kitchen or dining room. When company comes over you can ask if they have a specific prayer request that they would like to add to your prayer chain. Soon, as you continue to add prayers to the chain, your home is wrapped in prayer!
At bedtime or anytime, talk to your child about their day. Ask them to tell you what was the best thing that happened that day and what was the worst thing that happened. They might tell you about an argument with a friend. After you’ve discussed these things, include them in your prayers. So, regarding the argument with the friend, you might include in your prayers, “Lord, help Mickey forgive Jimmy and help them become friends again. Amen.”
And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15).
by Kay L. Meyer