Wow! This is such a wonderful chapter. I spent the Fall section of the book feeling very convicted, even slightly defeated (though I know this isn’t Sally’s intention at all). This Winter section, though, is proving to be very encouraging (though also convicting). I feel like Sally is really bringing it back around to foundational issues here. Here’s the truth: I don’t pray like I should. I know that’s a very controversial statement in itself; how much “should” we pray? Honestly, there are days when I don’t pray, not at all. I know that’s wrong. (Actually, I pray with my children every day that we are in our normal routine, but I don’t count this as my own private prayer time.) This chapter renews in me a determination to pray for my children. It also reminds me of how important it is for me to model for my children how to live a victorious Christian life, especially when it comes to praising God in all things. I’m not very good at this, but I long for this to be an authentic part of my life. I have so much growing to do.
Here are some gems from the chapter that really stand out to me:
It is so easy to fall into the trap of trusting in methods rather than trusting in God. We wouldn’t admit to it, but we often think and act like Christian behaviorists who believe that, as parents, we are responsible for what our children become. If we do the right kind of character training, they’ll have character; if we fail to, they’ll have character flaws. If they memorize enough Scripture, they’ll be spiritual; if they don’t, they’ll be at risk. We lose sight of the sovereign God who shepherds our children, and we focus narrowly on what we are or are not doing, worrying unnecessarily and vainly, It’s all up to me! We inadvertently begin to think we are as important as God in our children’s lives.
At the end of the day–or at the end of homeschooling!–the fate of my children will not be determined by whether I’ve used the right materials, read the best books, taken enough field trips, or done more of whatever I didn’t do enough of. God is in control of their lives, not I. How they turn out will depend more on how much I prayed for them, how much I depended on God, rather than on how much I did for them. I want to be able to say to my child that I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). (196–emphasis mine)
I want to go into this new school year with the determination to pray more for my children than I ever have before.
I hate to share another lengthy quote, but this one is so good. For me, reading it was like taking a long drink of cool water after traveling through a parched and desolate landscape.
The older I grow, the more I realize how dependent I am upon God’s grace. Without a steady flow of his grace into my life every day, I am sure I would degenerate into some kind of tyrant-mother, barking orders at my children with a zero-tolerance standard of behavior. Life is simply too demanding–washing, cleaning, cooking, schooling, training, taking, fixing, talking, ad infinitum–to try to do it all without God’s grace. If I am to be the mother God wants me to be for my children, I cannot do it without God’s grace.
Grace is a rather abstract concept, I know, but there are times in Scripture where it seems quite concrete. God has it, we need it; we ask, God gives. We can do to the “throne of grace with confidence” where we will “find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Scripture describes it almost as a tangible resource that we must acquire for godly living. In many ways, it is the spiritual equivalent of physical sustenance for our bodies. We cannot survive physically without food, and we cannot survive spiritually without grace.
When I feel the weight of parenting pressing down on me unrelentingly, I need to know there is a merciful God who knows and cares about me. But more than that, I need spiritual strength to carry the burden of parenting and keep going. I need his grace, and that is what I receive when I come to God in prayer. Prayer is a means by which God releases more of his grace into my life. Without prayer, I cut myself off from a major source of the grace of God. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). (197)
Isn’t that wonderful? Lord, help me to remember what I’ve learned.
Do you pray regularly for your children? How do you make the time to pray–really pray–in your busy life? I’m reminded of Susannah Wesley, who is purported to have thrown her apron over her head to pray in the midst of her very busy (ten children!) household. I want to be faithful in prayer.
Here’s a good resource regarding praying for your children: 31 Days of Praying for Your Children at His Mercy Is New. Also, I loved this post of Sally’s on her blog last week.