12 Ideas to Guide Your Child to a Life of Prayer

This post first appeared on The CPH blog (click to view) under "Everyday Faith".

“Momma, momma, huwwy! We need to pway!” My toddler ran to me the very moment he heard the siren from a fire truck speeding past our house down the nearby highway. I scooped my little guy into my arms and held him close. Together, we talked to Jesus, asking for help and protection on behalf of the people who may be hurting or in danger.
Just as my husband and I sought to teach our children that prayer can and should be our first response in every situation, you, too, can lead your growing children to pray, helping them see the need for it and the power of God in and through it. You can remind them that their loving heavenly Father’s eyes are always upon them, and that He hears and answers every prayer. They can draw near to His throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) because of Christ’s sacrifice for them at the cross!

Here are 12 ideas to help you along the way:
  1. From your children’s earliest toddler years, you can teach them to stop and pray for others when they hear sirens or when they witness any other potentially scary situation.
  1. Encourage your growing child, and praise her for her humble words given to God in prayer. No matter how long or short her prayer, it is a beautiful offering to Him.
  1. Teach your child how he can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), offering pop-up prayers in the middle of the day and developing an attitude of constant prayer and dependence on God.
  1. Pray for and with your child on the spot as a crisis or need arrives: when she walks through the door in tears, when you learn of another family’s illness or accident, or when another person suddenly comes to mind.
  1. Develop a prayer habit for your family at regular times in your daily routine, such as mealtime, devotion time, and bedtime, if possible.
  1. Sing the doxology or a table prayer set to music, and encourage your children to sing with no inhibitions as they offer praise and thanks to the Lord.
  1. Pray with them about big and small things, revealing that it all matters to God. He is a God of details and desires that we bring them all to Him.
  1. Encourage your children to be honest and forthright in their prayers. God knows every hair on their heads, so He surely knows everything on their hearts. They can pray about anything, even those things that they can’t talk to you about.
  1. Tell your child that however his heavenly Father answers his prayers—yes, no, or wait—he can expect God to change and grow him as a result of his prayers.
  1. Present your child with a journal, and encourage her to record her prayers and others’ prayer requests. Encourage her to look back to her past journal entries, recognizing God’s provision and answers along the way.
  1. Model prayer as you teach it to your precious children. Pray openly and honestly. Let them hear you confess your sins and praise your Savior. Let them listen as you thank Him for the many blessings of the day and as you hold them up in prayer.
  1. Pray the Scriptures for and with your children, inserting their names into them. Here’s a great place to start: “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you [ child’s name ] may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9–11).
Scripture: ESV®.  Portions excerpted from Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Coffee Break!

Let’s meet for coffee. Oh, wait. You’re in front of your screen; I’m in front of mine, and we may even be across the country from one another, but I think we can make this work. (I know…we’re not on Skype and we’re not chatting live, but I’m writing and you’re reading, and if you will grab a cup, I’ll do the same!) And in a sense, we’ll be “meeting” for coffee - gathering (as girlfriends in God love to do!) around a cup.
We can even call it a “coffee break!” Yes, a break. A time, if ever so brief, to sit back for rest, reflection, and refreshment. And coffee…a mere beverage? Hardly! The word “coffee” is so enticing, even if a cup of Java or Joe is not the drink of your choice. Why? Because the word “coffee” – the invitation,“let’s meet for coffee” – means so much more! (Maybe you’re enjoying a chai tea or a cup of hot cocoa or a flavored steamer right now!) 

For years, I was not a coffee drinker, but I rarely passed up an opportunity to “meet for coffee” when someone called. The atmosphere, the aroma, the amazing pastries behind the counter…all were enticing. And today I am a changed woman! While a black cup of Joe still doesn’t call my name, some newer creations simply SING to me! (With names like “White Chocolate Mocha” and “Vanilla Hazelnut Cappuccino” and “Creamy Caramel Latte,” how can I resist??)  
When a loved one or a friend invites you to meet for coffee, what she is really saying is that she wants your company, alongside that hot beverage. The conversation and camaraderie can fill and energize and refresh as much or more than the coffee in the cup after its consumption. “Coffee” is an event, an occasion, a holiday, if you will. 

A woman once shared with me how her family had faced years of hardship and financial struggles. As she and her husband worked tirelessly to put food on the table, there was no money left over for extras. But they kept a coin jar in the kitchen. As their small change accumulated, on rare occasion, they would delight in one treat: They would go out for a cup of coffee! I remember thinking, “Not dessert or chocolate?!” No. Coffee. The pick-me-up; the rare treat of choice for a special time together.
The Lord invites you to meet Him for a break – for a REAL pick-me-up. Even better than a coffee break with a loved one or a friend. He, too, really wants your company. He desires to spend a special time together with you. (It need not be a rare treat, but a daily delicacy!) The conversation that He initiates in His Word, and the camaraderie – the friendship – that He provides with His constant presence can be more filling than any other. Just imagine what the Savior has in store for you each time you meet Him with your cup. With your cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Sure! More importantly, with the “cup” that is you – a vessel created and called by the Lord, to be filled and used for His purposes! He invites you to take a seat, put up your weary feet, and extend your “cup” to Him.  

“[Jesus said,] ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28 As you find rest for your soul from the hurries and hassles of your life, you will be refreshed as you reflect upon His Truth for you, and you will be filled anew with energy and strength, purpose and direction for the day ahead. Hold out your cup to Him; He is filling it already.
As you sit down to meet your Savior for coffee, remember a few fun things…
·         Arrive with a Right-Side-Up Cup! (Check first to make sure your cup is not turned up-side-down!) Ask for a teachable, receptive, and open heart to receive every Word of wisdom He has for you today. Then hold your cup under His steady stream of grace.

·         Sip Slowly & Drink Deeply! “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10b As you sit with your Savior, sip His Word slowly, savoring every taste before you swallow. With every sip, you are refreshed; with every swallow, warmed and invigorated. Bring it to your parched lips and drink deeply as it flows into you. God’s divine power at work in His Word entices us in new and exciting ways each time it is read, as we receive everything we need from the One who called us and gives us life in His name! His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 

·         It’s a Bottomless Cup! The beauty of drinking in God’s Word is that the more we consume, the more our cup is filled. We cannot keep up with our Savior who continually pours His grace upon us. Our cups never run dry when His mercies are flowing!

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

      Thanks for meeting me for coffee.
      I’m going for a refill.
      How about you?

Making Appearances: Your Daughter and Social Media

This post first appeared on The CPH blog (click to view.) 

Your daughter stares into the screen of her phone, deeply engaged in social media. Many of the images are recognizable. The comments are personal. Some elicit laughter. Others hit a little too close to home. Still others leave her feeling uncomfortable and upset.

What your daughter may not realize is that the limited view of her friends via social media—shared for the world to see—are skewed, a little or a lot. As friends share flattering photos and make enviable remarks, they give her the false impression that everything in their world is ideal. They may be “making an appearance” before their peers, attempting to build themselves up, to appear a certain way. 

The result? Your poor princess ends up feeling inferior to or resenting her friends, whose goal may not have been to intentionally hurt anyone but merely to look good to others. In other cases, friends may share suggestive images or inappropriate content to seek negative attention and end up causing even further hurt as a result. In still other cases, so-called friends may attempt a direct attack against your daughter, using social media as the means for cyberbullying.

Research reveals a direct correlation between time spent on social media and negative feelings of self-worth, especially among growing girls, who often struggle with confusion and uncertainty regarding their changing appearance, their acceptance by peers, and their very identity. Researchers from the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Australia surveyed more than 1,000 adolescent girls. Dr. Amy Slater reported, “Our findings demonstrate a worrying correlation between excessive media use, particularly social media and the internet, and lower self-esteem, body-esteem and sense of identity and higher depression” (Medical Daily).  

I’m not advocating a ban of social media for our girls (once we’ve determined that they are old enough and prepared to make use of it). So many excellent Internet-driven tools for connectivity, conversation, and education have the potential to powerfully and positively impact our children when used with discretion and when our children’s eyes are wide open to the potential deception and harm that can be found in them. 

You have the opportunity to let social media be a great teaching tool for your daughter.

  • Be the mom. Set limits and explain them clearly; define appropriate and inappropriate use and provide clear-cut guidelines as you also educate yourself about the latest trends in social media.
  • Alert your child to the very real dangers that exist. Don’t mince words. If you’ve determined that she is ready for social media, then she must also be ready to understand the inherent dangers: Internet pornography, sexual innuendos, crude language, cyberbullying, and other vices exist across cyberspace. Help safeguard her by providing ample information, for her protection. 
  • Pray for and with her, asking God to guard her heart and guard her eyes: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways” (Psalm 119:37). 
  • Establish a level of care and trust so she knows she can approach you with concerns and every possible scenario that may appear before her.
Your daughter is “making an appearance” before her peers when she sports her first smartphone, when she sets up her first Facebook page or Instagram account , and every time she texts, posts, pins, or tweets (or whatever term the latest social media uses to define sharing something across cyberspace!).

 What kind of appearance will she want to portray? 

  • Help her to think carefully about the image she wishes to project, about how she wants to represent herself publicly.
  • Encourage her as you remind her of her true identity as a godly girl. The image she projects doesn’t have to try to impress because she is made in the image of God.
  • Share God’s Word of truth, which tells her that she is being transformed into Christ’s likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). With God’s help, her every appearance before others can be a reflection of Him by her character, as she chooses to reveal it.
What an opportunity! As she shares images of herself, words, interests, video clips, and more, she is free to express her unique identity as a chosen princess of the King, a redeemed child of God in Christ Jesus.

Scripture: ESV®.  Portions excerpted from Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Stepping Out from Behind My Secret Stash of Masks

I have a secret stash of masks that I keep handy for all those times when, for a variety of reasons that you will soon know, I am feeling particularly prideful. Yep, that's right. Prideful. (Sigh.) My assortment of masks does a nice job of concealing the truth that lies beneath them. So I slap them on as needed.

When life decisions, large or small, need to be made, pride would have me say, “It’s my decision. It’s my life. I’ll live it however I want to.” That’s when I slap on my In–Charge Mask. Sporting this mask, I try to convince myself and others that I can take the driver’s seat, make all my own decisions, and operate under my own power regarding everything from relationships to finances, from my career plans to my moral and ethical choices. Oh, and by the way, when I am wearing this mask, pride has me believe that I am never wrong. After all, a go-to gal like me, in charge of her own life, could never make a mistake. Right?

On other occasions, when a loved one or a trusted friend asks, “How have you been, Deb?”, instead of revealing the truth (which might sound something like, “I’ve been struggling lately”), I slap on my I’m-Fine Mask. You know, the one that gives the impression that everything is just great. “Couldn’t be better.” Why? The difficult truth stares me in the face (under that mask, of course): Pride. Again. Oh, sure, I can justify my answer: “Oh, I don’t want to bother them. They have enough worries of their own.” The truth is, though, that I don’t want them to see me in my weakness. Yep, that is a pride issue. To admit that I am struggling with something—anything—is to admit weakness, dependency on others, or the need for help. And I don’t need help. Right? I can do it all on my own.

In similar situations, I want to have all the answers—at church, at school, at home. As an example, when attending a Bible study, I want to give the right answers, should someone ask. So I slap on the Answer Mask, the one that lets everyone think that I am super knowledgeable, that they need only look to me for a quick answer. Ouch. Does pride keep me from learning from and listening to others? And does it inhibit others from answering or sharing? Could it even keep me from attending Bible study or another learning opportunity because I don’t want to reveal my lack of understanding or inability to answer? Maybe.

What mask should I wear for those times when I drive by another car and think proudly, “Look at that old jalopy; mine is nicer than theirs”? Or when I stare at someone’s lack of fashion sense or poor hygiene, their addictive habits or embarrassing behaviors, and say smugly under my breath, “Well, at least I’m not that bad”? For these proud moments, there is the ever-popular Better-Than-You Mask. Because I am just a bit better. Aren’t I?

Every mask attempts to conceal some important truths — and they are more than a bit humbling:

• I am not in charge of my own life, and I do make mistakes.
• I am weak, and I could use some help.
• I don’t have all the answers.
• I am no better than the next person.

Jesus Steps In

The truth is that God is the Lord of our lives, and we are not. In our sinful pride, we fail to follow His leading. We put our trust in ourselves instead of in Him. We think we know better than He does. On our own, we are stuck in our selfish sins. It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that we can confess our sins of pride and ask Him to show us where and when we are too full of ourselves. With repentant hearts, we surrender our pride, yield our lives to His lordship, and humble ourselves before our God. In His limitless mercy, He washes us clean in Christ, covering these countless sins with His pure and perfect forgiveness. Because Jesus steps in, it is possible for us to step out of our pride, to lay aside the masks that caused us to try to conceal the truth from ourselves.

Humility begins as He enables me to recognize my proper place in relation to my Maker. No longer do I trust in my ways and my desires, but in His. Humility does not selfishly ask, “What do I want to do today?” but “Lord, what would You have me do today?” and then seeks His Word and follows His lead. Humility is putting God in His proper place as Lord of my life, and me in my proper place at His feet. Good-bye, In-Charge Mask! 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

As the Lord enables me to recognize my helplessness and accept my weaknesses, I learn reliance on His power and on others’ help. It is humbly freeing to admit to another Christian, “I am struggling and would like your prayers.” Farewell, I’m-Fine Mask! 

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

My Savior helps me to accept a position of humility, where I listen and learn from others. He gives me an appropriate perspective in which I can say things such as, “I don’t have it all together, but I trust the One who does.” And, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will try to find out from someone who does know, and then I will get back to you.” Adios, Answer Mask! 

“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23).

God gives me eyes to see His other children as He sees them: loved and valuable and—just like me—in need of a Savior. He enables me to stop judging them in my pride and start loving them by His grace. Bye, bye, Better-Than-You Mask! 

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3).

Make no mistake, the only reason we can lay aside our masks of pride and clothe ourselves with humility is because Jesus has stepped into our lives with His grace and forgiveness, filling us with faith. 

Thank you, Jesus! 

From Stepping Out by Deb Burma © 2013 CPH. Reprinted with permission

Savor This Season of Parenting

When my children were very small, a dear mentor and friend of mine listened to my woes. "Will this parenting thing ever get easier? It just has to get easier!" I cried. The words came tumbling from my mouth following several sleepless nights, when I wondered if I would ever accomplish more than cleaning up messes, folding laundry, and feeding little mouths. My friend's tender response was "Oh, Deb, parenting doesn't get easier; the difficulty is just different." She had loved every minute of her children's youth, but recognized the realities and the difficulties that were a part of each age and stage.

Consider how a young child lives in the moment, enjoying it for what it is, and emulate that attitude. Resist the urge to say, "Mommyhood will be so much easier when [you fill in the blank] is over!" (You might fill it in with anything from potty training to driver's education, from packing the diaper bag for her to packing boxes with her as she leaves for college or a career.)

Don't be tempted to wish away the days, even the difficult ones. It's in the difficult days that we often learn the most. And what about the current schedule, activities, and commitments with your [son or] daughter that you may take for granted? Stop to notice and cherish the little things. 
Today will never come again. 
She will never be this age again. 
She will continue to change, maturing physically, emotionally, and spiritually, sometimes seemingly in the blink of an eye. 

Delight in each day with your daughter! Enjoy the present, and savor every season of parenting!

Don't wait for the weekend or holiday to spend a little one-on-one time with your daughter. Even a brief while in the evenings is significant. Suggestions: 

  • Create fun moments together. 
  • Spread out a picnic blanket in the middle of the living room floor. 
  • Trade back rubs, or give each other manicures. 
  • Go on an outing. 
  • Read a mom-and-daughter devotion, and receive the blessing and guidance provided through that nugget of truth for both of you. 

Live each day as though it is the last opportunity you have to impact her world for Christ: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

From Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Your Daughter's Life Story & Yours - Life in the Word

A small excerpt from Chapter Three of Raising Godly Girls, "Life in the Word, Part One - In the Palace".

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. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (emphasis added)

With the turn of every page in these earliest chapters of your daughter's life story, you can trust that God continues to cover you with His grace as you raise her to be a godly girl, secure in her identity, which is found and formed in Christ.

With your gentle and guiding hand upon her life from the start, you'll watch your princess grow and change before your very eyes - sometimes noticeably overnight! - and you can trust that God will provide you with what you need to be fully sufficient for this most important task.

And what you'll need, first and foremost, is His Word - God's living and active Word (Hebrews 4:12).

Do you dream of how your daughter's life story will be lived out? If so, do you envision that it could be one lived in the Word? And what does "life in the Word" even mean? It refers to more than intentional time spent reading and studying the Bible; it's also about life lived by it (although time spent regularly reading God's Word is foundational and a large portion of what I address [in this chapter]).

Every moment of every day, by God's grace, you can treasure His Word in your heart and teach it to your children by your words and example. That intentionality begins at home in your palace, under your royal roof, of course (as we read in Deuteronomy 6:7: "when you sit in your house...")...
Life in the Word is a life of dependence upon God. And that flies in the face of modern-day culture, which attempts to train us and our children to be self-made people, kings and queens of our own destiny.

I recently read a Facebook post that told me I should not wait for a prince to ride in on his white horse to rescue me from my struggles or my sins because I can be my own savior-of-sorts. The words turned my stomach. Each of us is in desperate need of a Savior, and we certainly won't find it within ourselves or from some guy riding a horse.

The truth is, there is only One who can save us: Christ Jesus, our Prince of Peace, is our Rescuer. Our Savior. And this truth is at the center of God's Word of life. That's why life in the Word is critical.

The Word reminds us, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). 

While the world may tell your daughter that she doesn't need the Bible and attempt to lure her into believing the Bible is outdated or irrelevant or merely the words of man, you know better. And you're teaching her the truth as you sit together in your house, reverently talking about Jesus and guiding her into the Bible over and over.

Show her by your life that you are dependent upon God for everything. Then trust Him to work in her heart and yours, as He transforms you both through His Word, the very means by which you may discern His "good and acceptable and perfect" will!

From Raising Godly Girls by Deb Burma © 2015 CPH. Reprinted with permission.

Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal ~by Sharla Fritz

This post is part of the Soul Spa blog tour of which I am part.

A spa for the spirit - just what I need! So often, I am stretched thin by too many demands for my time and attention, in desperate need of some soul care. Author Sharla Fritz's Scripture-filled new book is providing just that - the opportunity for spiritual renewal that I've been craving! Through rejuvenating spa analogies, Sharla offers creative, invigorating ideas for soul care - Spiritual disciplines - to meet with the Savior, to grow in intimacy with God. Each time I sit with Sharla's new Bible study, Soul Spa, I am refreshed and energized, even eager to meet the demands of my days. 

Do you need a place to rest your heart? Come to the #Soul Spa. Learn how to care for your heart in this new book by my friend and fellow CPH author, Sharla Fritz! Sharla was gracious to share her heart with me in the following Q&A.  Put up your feet & enjoy!                ~Deb Burma

Q: What inspired you to write Soul Spa

A: Just like many of you, I’m a woman who wears many hats. In my crazy busy life, I felt pulled apart every week. My spirit was tired and worn. I knew my soul needed the care only the Savior could provide, yet I continued sprinting through my days, not paying any attention to my soul’s cry for help. Finally, after years of ignoring my spirit’s need for rest and restoration, I decided to change. I began to learn how to bring my exhausted, fatigued, and shattered soul to the God who alone can restore it. I studied holy habits that Christians have used for centuries to draw close to the Savior. As I explored these practices, I found that they opened my heart to God’s working in my life. They gave Him the time and space for Him to restore my soul. All of these experiences led me to write Soul Spa–a book that is like a spa for the spirit. 

Q: Share why you used a spa analogy for the book. 

A: At a spa you receive a massage, a facial, a pedicure. Experts use their skills to enhance your health, your beauty. They give. You receive. As I have grown in faith, I have realized that our whole Christian life is a life of reception. We like to think of spiritual growth like a gym. Just like twelve bicep curls a day will strengthen my arms, a few reps of Bible reading, Scripture memory, and prayer will make me a stronger Christian. But in reality, our Christian life is more like going to a spa. Through Bible reading, Scripture meditation, silence and solitude, and other Spiritual disciplines we put ourselves in a position to hear God’s voice and receive His love. He gives. We receive. 

Q: You talk about Spiritual disciplines in the book. What exactly are Spiritual disciplines? 

A: Spiritual disciplines are centuries-old practices that have been used by Christians who want to grow in their relationship to God. Some of them are probably familiar to many followers of Jesus: Bible study, worship, prayer, and Scripture meditation. Others are wellknown, but maybe not always considered a means to grow closer to God: silence, solitude, hospitality, authenticity, journaling. And some of the practices in the book may be new to the reader: Examen and Rule of Life for instance. The purpose of all the Spiritual disciplines is to open up uninterrupted time and quiet space to receive God’s gifts as He speaks to you through His Word. They are not magic in themselves, but they can be a way to open ourselves to God’s invitation to a profound and multifaceted connection to Him.

Q: Describe the book. 

A: The book can be used for personal study or as a group resource. Some of the features include: 

  • Eight week Bible study for personal or group use 
  • Devotional readings 
  • In-depth Bible study 
  • Exploration of Spiritual disciplines 
  • Unique spa analogy 
  • Memory verses
  • Discussion/reflection questions 
  • Creative ideas for spending time with God 
  • Ideas for creating a spa-like environment for group meetings 
  • Directions for creating a personal soul care plan.

Q: Are there any other resources available on this topic? 

A: Yes, I have created a Soul Spa Kit for readers who want more creative ideas for spending time with God. This kit has 59 ideas for creating your own spiritual retreat. You will learn the who, what, where, when, and how of soul care. There ideas for Scripture meditation, times of confession, and joyous praise. Included is a Soul Spa Planner to help you craft your own spiritual retreat. Simply go to my website: http://sharlafritz.com/ to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you will receive this free resource in your inbox!  

Sharla Fritz is a Christian author and speaker who weaves honest and humorous stories into life-changing Bible study. Author of four books including Soul Spa, Divine Design, Bless These Lips, and Divine Makeover, Sharla writes about God’s transforming grace. She is passionate about helping women take their next step of faith.           
Find out more about Sharla on her website: www.sharlafritz.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharlafritzauthor
Twitter: @SharlaFritz
Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal is available at CPH.org and Amazon.