As I’ve been going through the many, many (and so many more) bins of my kids’ clothes to try to pare down what we have into what we only really need, I’ve been thinking about how much my sister has blessed me. She gave me the majority of the boxes, since her son and daughter are only a year older than my oldest son and daughter. While the hand-me-downs will only last through so many kids, I’m very grateful that I haven’t had to buy many clothes.
When I was a kid, I didn’t get many hand-me-downs; my sister and I are close in age and we didn’t have any cousins who passed much to us (at least from what I remember). And this got me thinking about other things that are usually handed down: toys, cars, books, dishes, instruments, etc. And then I thought about spiritual disciplines, which we may not consider hand-me-downs because hand-me-downs often come in the negative sense, as things that aren’t wanted or that aren’t good enough. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
I grew up in a home that only practiced the spiritual discipline of prayer. We prayed before dinner and then at bedtime, but that was about it. I never really prayed out loud until I was an adult, and even then, it made me super nervous because I didn’t know what to say. Once I started doing it regularly at small group, it became easier and easier and I got less and less anxious when I had to pray in front of others. Because of this anxiety as an adult, I can now use that example as a tool when I teach my kids to pray. Praying comes naturally to one of my kids, two of them are still learning, and the oldest has inherited my anxieties. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my kids that there is no wrong way to pray, and that it’s just us talking to our heavenly Father. He knows our hearts and knows what we are trying to say. Yet my oldest resists changing her prayers and most often prays the same prayer. It’s a struggle to get her to change and step out of her comfort zone, but we must persevere!
Romans 12:12 says, Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
The more we work with our children and teach them to pray, the easier it will be for them – to the point that it will become second nature.
Reading scripture and incorporating it into our daily lives is something we should do for ourselves and for our children.
Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Remembering that the Word is living and always relevant will be of far greater help than asking Google (or Siri or Alexa) when we are in need. If you aren’t spending time in the Word on a regular basis, it’s never too late to start! Especially as most of us are stuck at home, there is no better time than the present to begin a Bible reading plan. The YouVersion App has many to choose from, from yearly plans to plans specific to sins you may be struggling with.
Deuteronomy 6:6–7 says, And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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.
In order to obey this command, we should pray and ask God what to read and how to apply it to our families. Set the expectation that your kids will read the Bible and obey it! I struggle a lot with my older kids in getting them to read the Bible on their own; however, I know I need to persevere and be diligent in this expectation.
Memorizing scripture is another important spiritual discipline. Proverbs 4:4 says, He taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.”
This is not something I am good at (at all)! I struggle to memorize the verses for small group this year, to the point that I hardly even try anymore. Each Sunday evening, I resolve to get them memorized, but during the week, I barely even think of it! My regular daily duties get in the way, and I don’t prioritize what is actually more important. Since I struggle with this now, I know that this is one area where I’m not teaching my kids well. However, we have our kids in Awana, which is a huge help to me. The kids are required to memorize their verses, and while I have trouble remembering to remind them to open their Awana books, they are still doing it.
Again, this is harder for my oldest, and of course, it comes naturally to my second child. Even more helpful is that many of the verses are set to music, which comes with my Amazon Music subscription. Music has been extremely helpful, and even I know a lot of the verses, having listened to them over and over and over again while my kids learn. Now that my daughter is in third grade, she’s memorizing a lot at school and is able to use what she has learned there to help her memorize the Awana verses.
While I love and appreciate the hand-me-downs from my sister, I really want to hand down these disciplines to my kids so that hopefully, one day, they will practice them on their own and teach them to their own children. Thus, teaching our children spiritual disciplines is of the utmost importance. But if we struggle with them ourselves, it can be hard! We must fight our flesh to be persistent; we must focus on the eternal. If we work hard and are consistent with our kids, we will see fruit.