Wednesday, 29 June 2011

~Obedience~ Day 4 - 31 Days of Prayer for Your Children

I've decided to take part in 31 Days of Prayer for Your Children, I mentioned this here, it originates from here: 31 Days of Prayer for Your Children and I heard about it via Ann Voskamp's blog Holy Experience.

Scripture: Ephesians 6:1 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

My thoughts: One of the hardest things, in these days of information and advice overload, is to decide the best way to discipline children in the most loving way. The most strident voices are often from Christian circles. There are two extremes: those who advocate physical punishment with 'the rod'* from babyhood (!), and those who use grace as an excuse for no discipline.

*I believe that Jesus has taken the punishment that has driven out our sins, so no amount of corporal punishment is going to drive out our children's sins. We are in the new covenant and we should parent as such. Equally, we are indeed under grace, but sin and fleshliness are still condemned by God. To allow our children to have free reign and no boundaries teaches them nothing about the goodness of God.

Teaching obedience is hard work. We ought to not only teach the Biblical principle of obedience from children to parents, but to emphasise that obedience must be firstly toward God (and then teachers, and other figures of authority). Always 'in the Lord', that is, never against His will, so that someone in authority should not ever make them sin or hurt them (because, of course, that is against God's will).

Teaching true repentance to a loving forgiving God is the cornerstone. Every time there is an instance of disobedience we go to God first.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight...
~Psalm 51:4(a)
And then we make recompense in some way - be it saying sorry, making good for damage done, etc.

The most important thing to teach is that God hates sin, but that He loves us and that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in His manifold grace and mercy that we might be forgiven and restored. Remembering always:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
~Romans 6:1
Never!

We do practice consequences for bad behaviour. For naughtiness there is the 'naughty step' or being sent to their bedrooms. This gives children a time to consider what they have done and why it is wrong. You must be consistent in exacting obedience - for example, if you threaten no ice-cream if they are naughty then if they are naughty you must follow through with that otherwise your words mean nothing. It isn't about fear, but about learning that we reap what we sow.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
~1 John 4:18
Yesterday we browsed in a local charity shop, in stomped a grumpy small boy heading toward the toy section. Followed by an equally grumpy woman. "You are so naughty," she said. "Making me buy you something, now we have missed the bus, Daddy will be so cross because we won't have time to pick the car up from the garage, it is all your fault".

Making me buy you something?! No, the small boy is not making you buy him something, he ought not to be in control. What is wrong with the word 'no'? What is wrong with setting boundaries? What is wrong with teaching children that they can't have everything? What is wrong with teaching a child that you need to catch a bus? So what if the child cries, so what if the child throws a tantrum, so what if you life is made a bit uncomfortable as you teach a lesson on what is or isn't important?

Love is key. Love does not allow a child to do whatever he wants, but equally love does not set boundaries so tight that he never learns from a mistake. Love protects a child but allows him to grow up.

Obedience to God first, parents second, then to other figures of authority. If you obey God first then the others will follow, because love for God translates into love for others. If our children learn to love God first, then they will learn right from wrong - they will learn when to say 'no' even to a figure of authority if that person is asking them to do something which is wrong. Learning to say 'no' to people in authority is as essential as learning to say 'yes'. Blind obedience should only apply to obedience towards God.

This is what I want my children to learn. Obedience to God first.

But this is about prayer. The best place to ensure that a child learns such obedience is on our knees before the Lord. I cannot teach a child loving obedience without prayer because it is something I am still learning myself.

4 comments:

  1. "Making" her buy him a toy? Good grief! I am enjoying your reflections :).

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  2. Jaw droppingly bad isn't it? We all have our own parental weaknesses, but really! LOL.

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  3. That poor child! I feel sorry for the life he will some day lead. This is a wonderful series, and I'm enjoying reading it, and your thoughts. Thank you for sharing it!

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