Speaking Life Over Your Kids

Death and life are in the power of the tongue…
Proverbs 18:21

Our words have power. The words that we say can either lift someone up or tear them down. Words can hurt and they can completely completely crush someone’s spirit. But they can also be used to mend and bring encouragement. Parents, this is especially true about the words we use when we are talking to or about our children. When I’m out and about, I often hear parents talking about their kids in passive conversations with comments like, “Oh, she’s never going to understand math.” or “He’s just being a brat today.” While these remarks might not be said intentionally, they speak negativity and express a low level of expectations for their children.

Almost immediately after announcing our pregnancy, my husband and I were swarmed with advice from so many well-meaning people. Most people advised Jimbob and I to expect the worst out of our new little bundle of joy. They would “prepare” us with stories that included all the negative aspects of raising kids. In particular, we were told many horror stories about the awful things that toddlers do in the “terrible twos” stage. Before I even became a mama, I made the promise to never call the toddler stage the “terrible twos”. Long ago, God laid it on my heart to be conscious of the words that I used when talk about my family. I wanted to speak life over my kids and always communicate messages that lifted them up. Instead of the “terrible twos”, I started calling this stage of life the “terrific twos”.

Now, our daughter is two and a half. She is a ball of energy, constantly exploring, and just overall full of life. She does throw fits pretty regularly when she doesn’t get her way. She gets cranky when she needs a nap. When she is frustrated she yells – loudly. At any given point, she can be everything that the term “terrible twos” encompasses. BUT – she is also so compassionate. She is kind and loving. When she sees someone crying or hurt, she always wants to help them. She is so silly and can make her daddy and mommy laugh like no one else can. She is creative, imaginative, and brave. She loves Jesus and knows that He loves and saved her. I would be devastated if someone saw her in the middle of a meltdown and labeled her as a “terrible” two-year-old. She is so much more than her difficult moments, and so are the kids in your life.

Any time that I think about the words that I use, I am reminded of Psalm 19:14. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. I often use this verse as a prayer. May everything I say about others, especially my children, be pleasing to the Lord. It is my prayer that God would be happy with what I have to say when I talk to or about my kids.

I say all of that to tell you this: our words have power. The things that we choose to say to and about our kids matter. I am not saying we should sugar-coat parenthood. I know it’s not all a walk in the park. I’m just saying that it isn’t all awful, either. Raising children is challenging, but it is also rewarding. Our kids have really terrible days sometimes, but they also have really wonderful days. Friends, it’s our job as parents (or grandparents, aunts, uncles, guardians, etc.) to speak life over our kids. Expect the best from them, and then respond with grace and love when they fall short (because they will). Next time you are tempted to say something negative about your children, try to say something positive instead. Let’s give our kids a good example of how to use words to breathe life over others by starting with how we talk about them. Let’s be intentional in what we say to our precious children. After all, their Heavenly Father made them to be pretty terrific.

Raising Kids Who Pray For Others

Being consistent in prayer is a spiritual discipline that is crucial to every Christian’s life. One of the ways that I teach about prayer to the kids in my ministry is by asking them how they would feel if they had to go months without talking to their best friend. Most of them normally say something about how they would feel disconnected in that friendship without communication. Just like we need to talk to one another, Christians need communication with God. The need for communication with our Heavenly Father is fulfilled through prayer. As we teach the children in our lives how to pray, it is important that we are also providing clear instructions of what to pray for. Kids of any age can praise God, petition for their own needs, and lift others up in prayer.
Writing this blog post has been on my heart lately as I have noticed a trend among the kids in my life. I have found that most children know that they should pray for others, but they seem to either be uncomfortable doing it or aren’t sure where to start. The best way for our children to learn about praying for others is to see and hear the adults in their lives lifting others up in prayer. In thinking about my own prayer life and how it can have an impact on the children around me, I am brought to these questions: Why is praying for others such a big deal, anyways? Do I pray for others as often and as consistently as I should be?

One of my favorite chapters of scripture is John 17. In this passage, we see Jesus praying for all believers – both His current disciples and those who will believe in the future. Take a look at verses 20-26:
20 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. 22 I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation. 25 Righteous Father, the world has not known you. However, I have known you, and they have known that you sent me. 26 I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them and I may be in them.”
Jesus is about to be betrayed, arrested, and taken to his death. He prays for himself, but he does not stop there. He spends his last free moments praying protection, joy, sanctification, unity, and love over His disciples and over all future believers. Rather than being concerned only with what was about to happen to Him, Jesus spent time praying for others. Before the most painful events of His life, Jesus spent time in prayer for me. Friend, if you are a believer, He was also praying for you. This is a truth that almost renders me speechless every time I think about it. This passage provides such a powerful picture of the incredible love that Jesus has for us. Jesus gives us the ultimate example of how essential it is that we should pray for one another.

Another verse that comes to mind when I think about praying for others is James 5:16. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” In the last part of his letter, James wants his readers to know the importance of prayer. He urges them to pray, no matter what their circumstances might be. James knew that a big part of effective prayer is confessing to and lifting up one another. He knew that going to the Father on behalf of someone else can cover a multitude of sins.

Both of these biblical passages show us that praying for others is a big deal for believers. We can see that we should be lifting others up every time we pray. One of the biggest ways that you can bless the children in your life is to teach them the importance of praying for others. You can teach your kids that they can show someone that they love them by praying for them. Kids can learn that they can pray for anyone at any time. As you disciple your children, ask God to help them be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in their prayers. When you pray as a family, pray for one another and for other friends and family members. Ask God to heal those who are sick and thank Him for the people He has placed in your family’s life.
Whether your child is 5 or 15, they can be a strong prayer warrior. In learning to pray for others, children can come to realize that the gospel is for everyone. Jesus’ love is for everyone. Prayer is for everyone.

These are a few questions for you to ponder or to use as discussion-starters with the kids in your life. I hope you find them helpful!

  1. When you are facing troubles of your own, is your first reaction to include others in your prayers, or do you only pray for yourself? 
  2. Why is it important to pray?
  3. How have you seen prayer make a difference in someone’s life?
  4. How does it make you feel when you know that someone else is praying for you?
  5. Who can you pray for today?

Seven Ways to Pray for Your Kids in Times of Crisis

The past few months have been so difficult for everyone. COVID-19 has completely disrupted every area of our lives. We have seen our schools shift to online learning, churches stop meeting for corporate worship in their buildings, stores close, people lose their jobs, and so many other rough circumstances.

One verse that I have clung to during this season is Deuteronomy 31:6.
Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.
This verse has provided a constant source of comfort, because it reminds me that God has promised not to forsake me. Friends, if you are a follower of Christ, you can rest in the promise that your Heavenly Father is with you – through COVID-19 or any crisis that you face.

As I have been processing my own emotions throughout this season, I have also been thinking about all of the kids in my life. It’s important to remember that the same circumstances that affect adults also have a great effect on our children. For this reason, I have been concerned about how all of the social distancing restrictions will affect my daughter. I have also really missed worshiping with our precious First Burleson Kids on Sundays and Wednesdays every week.

In spending time in prayer for all of these children, I found that I had a common theme that focused on seven prayers. I have compiled that list of prayers here, in the hopes that you might be able to use it to pray for the children in your life. Even though we seem to be finally shifting into a period where restrictions are being lifted, it is important to remember to continue to pray for our kids.

1. Pray for the physical health and safety of your kids.
As a mom, I want to do everything in my power to keep my daughter healthy and protect her from harm. I’m sure you feel the same way about the children in your life. COVID-19 has made me even more aware of the fact that I can’t protect my little girl from everything. We live in a fallen world, which means that she will endure pain and sickness from time to time. As much as I’d like to, I can’t stop every bad thing from happening to her. The good news is, that because of the power of prayer, I am not helpless. I can pray hard and ask the Lord to protect my family.
I have found a really simple way to incorporate prayer for my family’s health during this season. Every time I wash my hands, I say a quick prayer asking God keep us healthy and safe. If you’re like I was and struggling to remember to pray throughout the day, I’d encourage you to incorporate a prayer every time you do a specific part of your daily routine. Praying while washing my hands works for me. There might be another approach that works for you. One of the amazing things about our Heavenly Father, the Ultimate Healer, is that He hears our prayers no matter what we are doing when we lift them up. Pray for the physical health and safety of your children. It will make a difference.

2. Pray for the mental well-being of your kids.
While praying for the physical health of you children is important, praying for their mental health is of equal importance. Just like adults, children can and often do struggle with anxiety, depression, and mental exhaustion. In a crisis situation like COVID-19, these mental afflictions can intensify. Depression is real. Anxiety is real. Mental exhaustion and stress are real. But friends, so is Jesus. Jesus is real and the hope that He brings is real. The hope that comes from Christ is more powerful than any of the tricks our minds might play on us. Pray the power of hope over your children, so that their minds might be filled with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Phil. 4:8).

3. Pray that your kids experience a deeper level of dependance on the Lord.
In times of crisis, we can learn a lot about ourselves by the people or things we turn to for comfort. This difficult season can provide great opportunities for parents to demonstrate their dependence on God so that their children might rely on Him at a deeper level.
Parents, it’s okay to let your kids see that you don’t have it all figured out. It’s okay to tell them that you are concerned for what the future holds. It’s okay to let them see that you are affected by the pandemic. All of these things are okay – as long as you point them to the One who does have it all figured out. Show them that God holds the future in His hands and that they can depend on Him – and then encourage them to cast their cares on Him, because He cares for them (1 Pet. 5:7). Pray for your kids to rely on their Heavenly Father more than anyone or anything else in the world. Teaching our children early on that God is bigger than Covid-19, or any other life crisis, can provide a foundation that will help them continue to turn to Him when they experience trials later on in life.

4. Pray that God would give your kids compassion for others who are sick, on the front lines, or are otherwise deeply hurting as a result of this crisis.
As Christians, God calls us to carry one another’s burdens (Gal.6:2). I’m sure that you know someone who is severely struggling or at risk because of COVID-19. As a family, talk about the people in your life that you know have been deeply affected by this crisis. This will provide a great opportunity to have critical conversations about some very real and current needs of others. Even very young children can learn what it means to care for the needs of someone else. Pray that your kids would understand that they can pray for others. Help them to recognize that every person is immensely valued by God. When one of their brothers or sisters in Christ is hurting, your kids can feel compassion for them and lift them up to the Father.

5. Pray for your kids to feel a continued connection to their friends, teachers, family members, and others that they are unable to spend time with during this crisis.
Even for the most introverted of us (I’m raising my own hand over here), not being able to see a lot of the people that we care about can take a toll. For me, going months without getting to do something simple like going to brunch with my best friends has been really rough. God designed us to need fellowship with one another. He did not intend for us to live life alone (Gen. 2:18). This is true for our kids, as well. As they have had to learn what it means to social distance and isolate, they have been missing their buddies. We are so blessed to have technology that enables us to meet virtually, but a screen on a device can never take the place of real, face-to-face interaction. Hopefully everyone will be able to meet together one day soon – but in the meantime, parents, we can ask God to comfort and fill that void in our kids’ lives.

6. Pray for your kids as they mourn the loss of their normalcy and plans that they were excited about.
For the first summer in as long as I can remember, I won’t be going to Kids’ Camp or leading a traditional Vacation Bible School. Coming to the realization that these events aren’t happening this year has been hard for me. I’m honestly not sure how this summer will even feel like summer without them. It’s not fun when plans get canceled, but that sure has been happening to everyone a lot lately. It can be extremely difficult for kids when their sense of “normal” is disrupted. Most of our children here in Texas left school for Spring Break, expecting to be back the next week. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and a lot of kids have really struggled with missing out on events and activities that they were excited about. Parents, give grace to your kids when they have trouble being flexible as plans change. Pray that God would help them be able to handle the disappointment that comes with this season. Pray that God would provide new opportunities to take the place of what your kids are going to have to miss out on. We might not have been able to anticipate COVID-19 when we initially made a lot of our plans, but God did. This virus has not come as a surprise to Him. We can trust that the plans He has for us and for our children are far greater than any we could make ourselves.

7. Pray that the Lord would provide an abundance of spiritual growth and learning opportunities for your kids during this season.
One thought that my Lead Pastor, Ronny Marriott, shared with our church staff recently was “Don’t waste this crisis.” This is a statement that has really stuck with me over the past several weeks. God is not wasting this time, so I need to be sure that I’m not either. Although this season has been difficult in ways that most of us have never faced before, God is still moving. He is still working. We can still be learning and growing in our faith during this time – and so can our kids. When today’s children are adults and COVID-19 is read about in history books, may our kids be able to look back on this time and see evidence of lessons and truths that God revealed to them. Pray that the Lord would reveal more of Himself and His character to your kids in this season. Pray that your kids might have a better understanding of who they are because of what Christ has done for them. Don’t waste this crisis.

Prayer is powerful and God hears us when we pray. I can promise you that, friend. These are only seven ways that you can pray for your kids during times of crisis. Parents, you can continue to ask God to show you other ways to pray.
What would you add to this list? What are some of the ways that you have been praying over the children in your life during this pandemic?