Hidden Benefits of Praying Blessings Over Your Kids

In the Old Testament, there are several times when fathers prayed blessings over the heads of their sons. The stories are often difficult ones for us to understand as at times they sound more as if the father in question is prophesying the future of each child. The Bible doesn’t thoroughly explain how these blessings worked. Did the father in question get some sort of direct message from God as to what to say – meaning it was an actual prophecy from God? Did God somehow make these blessings happen in the lives of the children? (It’s important to note, some of them didn’t exactly sound like blessings!) Did the father base the blessing on the character the now adult child had displayed in his life?

We may never completely understand these parental blessings, but there is something we can learn from them. Blessings said out loud over our children can impact their lives. There is no actual command to pray blessings over your children, but what children would not be blessed to hear their parents praying out loud for God to bless them?

When we talk about God blessing your child with these prayers said out loud over your kids, we aren’t just talking about money, success or good grades. It’s okay to ask God for those things to an extent, but what is more important is to use them as an opportunity to encourage your kids to see themselves as God sees them. To pray the ways you want to see them live their faith. To pray for God’s protection and guidance for their lives.

Fair warning, your kids will find this cringe worthy embarrassing! (This is best done without a public audience most of the time!) The good news though is that their respect for God and prayer will let them allow you to pray blessings over them they would never let you say to them in conversation without interruptions or leaving the room.

These blessings are times to share the potential you see in them. To point out their gifts from God. To remind them how incredibly precious and loved they are. To remind them God wants to guide them through life if they will let Him. To remind them God wants what is truly best for them – even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Blessings also remind your kids how much you love them and how important their spiritual life is to you.

Here’s the other secret about most kids. While they may cringe at these blessings, secretly most of them are soaking them into their hearts and minds. Done periodically with some consistency, they will even eventually become a treasured part of your relationship. If you connect these times of blessing with regular events like birthdays, the first day of school or other events, you may even find if you forget it one year, they will remind you.

So pray blessings out loud over the heads of your children. Praying for your children is always important. Praying blessings out loud over their head can benefit them in ways silent prayers don’t necessarily provide. So give your kids both and watch what happens!

Encouraging Your Kids’ Godly Dreams

Parents will often tell their kids that they can do anything they put their minds to do. The implication being that with enough hard work, anything is possible. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Other factors can prevent your kids from achieving their dreams, but were those the right dreams anyway?

The Bible tells us God has good works planned for each of us to do. It also tells us that He loves us enough to know the number of hairs on our heads! I doubt even the most loving mother could tell you the number of hairs on the heads of each of her kids, but she still has plans and dreams for them. It only makes sense that God cares about more details in our lives than we often give Him credit for having.

God has specific plans He would like for each of your kids to follow. Obviously, becoming a Christian is one of those plans. Obeying His commands is another. Serving others and sharing their faith would also fall under plans God has for your kids. There is a reason though, all of your kids are at least a bit different – with different gifts, talents, interests and passions. They were hard wired by God to be able to do the good works He has planned for them to do. Some of those good works will overlap with where they attend school, live or the careers they choose.

So why don’t Christian parents tell their kids they can do anything if it’s in God’s plans for their lives? Why aren’t we spending more time helping them discover their gifts and passions and helping them match those up with potential careers? Why aren’t we spending more time teaching them about vocational ministry – finding ways to serve others, share their faith and be a light in the world while at work, school or even home? Why aren’t we equipping them to discern God’s plans for their lives, so it will be easier to follow them?

Instead, parents often either micromanage their kids’ choices or encourage them to think almost selfishly…focusing on plans that will make them happy. Christian parents need to spend more time teaching our kids how to focus on being more holy. Happiness may or may not come with holiness, but joy always does. We need to teach our kids how to dream godly dreams. Dreams the Holy Spirit is perhaps placing on their hearts for ways to minister to others. It may be through their career or in their time outside of the job…hopefully, both.

“You can do anything” may be encouraging your kids to do what they want to do – whether or not it is in God’s plans for their lives. It encourages them to make major life decisions by bringing God into them late in the process – if at all. It encourages them to perhaps even push past walls God has set up to protect them from that choice. If you have been telling your kids they can do anything, try switching the dialogue. Point them to including God and following the plans He has for their lives. Everyone will benefit from the change.

The Secret to Raising Productive Christians

Did you know God expects more from Christians than just sitting on a pew once a week? More than just to avoid sinning? There is a productive side to Christianity. God expects His people to serve those around them and share their faith, so others will become Christians. The Bible tells us there are definitely lukewarm Christians. Now I don’t have any idea who those lukewarm Christians are in Revelation 3:15-16 that God will spit or vomit out, but I don’t want my kids to be in that group.

Our works don’t save us, but are an outpouring of our gratitude and obedience to God. I want to raise kids who are serving others and sharing their faith. Kids who are obedient to God’s commands. Kids who attend worship because they want to, not because it’s a habit, family expectation or spiritual insurance policy. A group that does Christian research found that children raised in Christian homes fall into three basic groups as adults. The first are those who may or may not still claim to believe in God or be a Christian, but make few, if any, attempts to actually live a Christian life.

The second group is tricky. They call themselves Christian and may even attend worship services and Bible classes regularly. Their life, however, does not reflect obedience to God on a large scale, including obeying God’s commands, serving others or sharing their faith. Their faith or at least their lifestyle reflects a shallow Christianity. The research didn’t follow these young adults for years, but I would imagine they are more susceptible to having their faith continue to weaken over the years.

The third group of young adults lived their faith. They weren’t perfect, of course, but they consistently made godly choices. They served others regularly and shared their faith. They were active and productive Christians.

It’s important to remember that all three groups of young adults were raised in Christian homes. So what made the difference? Was there consistency within certain homes…raising kids that mainly ended up in the same faith category? The research found there was a great bit of consistency and that there were marked differences in the ways the three groups were raised.

As one would imagine, the group of young adults who did not remain faithful grew up in homes where not a lot of spiritual things happened. They may have prayed at meals and attended church, but there weren’t family devotionals, spiritual conversations and family efforts to serve others and share their faith. The spiritual instruction and coaching that is essential just didn’t happen often or consistently enough to impact the children who were raised in those homes.

The surprising part is the difference between the last two groups. They pretty much did the same things. They prayed and studied the Bible together and independently. They had a lot of discussions about how God wants us to live our lives and other spiritual topics. They corrected their kids and helped mold their hearts to obey God. They attended worship, served others and shared their faith.

So why did some kids become church attenders and others become productive Christians? One factor seemed to make the difference. Hospitality. Yes, you read that correctly. Families who invited friends, family and strangers into their home on a regular basis were much more likely to raise productive Christians than those who didn’t. It didn’t seem to matter who was entertained or what kind of food (if any) was served. Just regularly having other people in the home changed everything.

Hospitality is a dying art in our world. Being hospitable will make you stand out in a positive way. It will expose your kids in more meaningful ways to other Christians. It can model for them how to serve others and share their faith. It can encourage those you entertain. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Your home doesn’t have to be perfect. Just open your door and invite people into your home.

The ironic thing is that the Bible focuses on hospitality quite a bit – especially in the New Testament. It’s even a requirement for those who wish to become elders in the Church. In fact, it’s commanded of all Christians (Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9 and others). Yet, it’s rarely mentioned or practiced today and our kids are missing an essential element of spiritual growth because of it. So grab your phone and have someone over for ice cream. It might just make a huge difference in your kids’ spiritual lives.

Teaching Your Kids Reflection

The Bible contains quite a few verses that discuss the idea of meditating on scripture. Psalm 1 lauds people who “delight in the Law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night”. The New Testament also discusses meditation, but often uses terms like “think about these things”, which are perhaps more familiar ideas for us.

Whether you call it meditation, reflection or “thinking about”, God wants His people to think deeply about the scriptures He has given us. He wants us to think about what they tell us about Him and what He wants for us and from us. He wants us to use those reflections to think about how to apply those scriptures in our daily lives. He wants the same things for your kids and He wants you to teach them how to reflect on scripture.

Even though I was raised in a Christian home and attended church regularly, I don’t remember being taught anything about how to reflect or meditate on scripture. I’m not sure when it ceased to be a spiritual discipline, but you may not have been taught about reflection either. If you were taught anything, it was to read the Bible, but the plans they used covered so much scripture in one day, you could barely read it all, much less reflect on any of it.

If you want to start your kids off with great spiritual habits, reflection on scripture is an important one. It’s really rather simple to teach – even if you were never taught how to do it. I’ve broken it down into steps, to make it more like a recipe or set of instructions. There are multiple ways you can teach reflection, but this is the most streamlined I could design.

  • Find a time and place. It works best if your child picks a time when something is already regularly scheduled and can just add on a little reflection time. So for example, if your child always eats breakfast or an afternoon snack, he or she may choose this as a great time to do some reflection. We tend to think of reflection as “quiet time”, where one sits silently or chants a syllable over and over. In reality, some of your kids may reflect better when taking a walk or listening to praise songs. Each of your kids may choose a different time and place. That’s fine, because it’s important to find what works best and will help them establish the habit.
  • Pick a source of scriptures. The version you use is important. Try one like the NIrV. It’s a translation, therefore, more accurate than a paraphrase, but is also on a third grade reading level to make it easier to understand. To make it easier to find meaningful verses upon which to reflect, consider using a “Bible verse of the day” setting in your Bible app or from another source. Or use a book like Proverbs, where each verse usually has a lot to think about within it. Without this help, your kids may end up trying to meditate on a list of names or a description of a bit of action in a Bible story.
  • Teach them to read the verse and then say what it means in their own words. This may mean they need to look up the definition of a word or two. If they can’t explain the verse in their own words, they probably don’t understand it well enough to meditate on it.
  • Teach older kids to look for context. Sometimes verses can be confusing if you don’t understand what happened in the verses surrounding them. Job’s friends, for example, say some things that were just totally wrong and made God angry. Taken out of context though, your kids may think what they said was true and important. Often just reading a couple of verses before or after will give them enough context. In complicated situations, they may wish to use a concordance to help them.
  • Teach them to look for a lesson. Ask your kids to think about why God wanted that verse to be in the Bible. What does He want them to learn from it? What does it tell them about God and what He wants for them and/or from them?
  • Teach them to ask themselves what they need to change or do now that they have reflected on the verse. Reflecting on scripture doesn’t do a lot of good unless it is also used. Have your kids think about their lives in light of the verse they reflected upon. Is there something they need to change or do in light of it? How can they make those changes in their lives?

At first, you will want to teach your kids how to reflect on scripture by doing it together as a family. After they are comfortable with the process, let them attempt reflection independently, then discuss their thoughts with you later. Hopefully, before long they will have developed a daily habit of reflecting on scripture.

Managing Your Child’s Inner Dialogue

There are several new books out about the things we “say” to ourselves and the impact those thoughts can have on our lives. Children are not always fully aware of these thoughts. Metacognition, or the recognition of these thoughts, is critical to a child being raised in a Christian home. Why? Because these thoughts have a huge impact on the choices your kids will make. Being aware of their thought processes will give them more awareness of their ability to control these thoughts and make better choices.

So where do all of these thoughts originate? Many of them actually begin with you. That is why it’s so important to refrain from saying things like, “You are so stupid!” or “You always make the worst possible decisions!” when you are frustrated with your kids. Words have an impact on thoughts. If you use inappropriate language when frustrated with your kids – especially repeatedly – their thoughts will continue to define themselves using your words. Which is sad, because often parents don’t really mean those hurtful words – they were spoken in the anger of the moment.

You can also put positive thoughts in your kids’ brains. Be realistic though. Studies are showing that unrealistically high self esteem also produces negative consequences. Think carefully about the positive messages you want your kids to hear about themselves in their own heads. Be intentional in using them regularly to make the “tape” especially strong. Don’t forget things like, “I will always love you!”, because those reassurances will be there when they need them, too.

Make sure to put some strong scripture “tapes” in their brains. Have a few verses you regularly quote or summarize. Encourage them to memorize scripture and use it regularly so it will be part of their long term memory “tape” collection when they need it. Help them have a balance of scriptures that encourage them to make good choices and verses that remind them of God’s love, power and presence.

While you are working to put helpful “tapes” in the brains of your kids, it is crucial to monitor another major source of negative thoughts in our brains – the words of siblings. Do not ignore it when siblings say ugly things to one another. Don’t excuse it as normal sibling teasing. Teasing or not, when a thin girl is told constantly by a sibling that she is fat, she begins to believe it. Insist that siblings use kind words when speaking to each other. Don’t let their youthful meanness put negative thought patterns in each other’s brains for life.

Want to know what tapes your kids have playing in their heads already? Ask them? If they don’t know, tell them to name a huge goal they have for their future and then pay close attention to what their brain “says” in response to it. If they are already having negative thoughts, teach them how to change them by substituting a better thought every time they realize they are beginning the harmful thought. It takes practice, but it can help them make better choices if they learn to make their inner dialogue helpful and holy.