This week in our study of Sally Clarkson's "Ministry of Motherhood", we're learning about training our children in the specific areas of praying effectively and how to deal with tribulations.
This is a great time for me to be learning from Sally's wisdom as trials and tribulation seem to be following us these days. For weeks now we've been feeling the pressure increasing as we've dealt with one issue after another and the uncertainty that comes with huge changes in our seasons of life.
In Chapter 15, Sally talks about how she used flowers to illustrate the point to her young daughter that it takes time for prayer to bear fruit, just as it takes time for seeds that are planted to grow and blossom. I thought this was such an inspired way to teach a young child. She reminds us that prayer is our communication with God and must be faithful in our prayer, faithful in our thanksgiving and worship of Him, bring to Him our needs but be patient in how He decides to supply them. As she told her daughter "sometimes God has to say no too", sometimes what we want is not in His plan for us.
My husband and I are trying to bring our children to this knowledge in this particular season of life. One daughter believes that God abandoned her in her time of need and so she asks the question "Why should I pray if when I pray nothing happens?" I pointed out to her it may not have happened according to her desires, but God NEVER abandons us, He was right there and she can have faith that His Hand was supporting her, whether or not she believes so.
I hope and pray that we can show her that she was not faithful in her prayer to God.. that He is not to be called upon only in time of need. We can only build our relationship with Him by continuing to pray and leave that doorway constantly open. I hope that we can show her that she has filled her mind and heart with so many distractions, there is no room for the voice of God to speak. How would she even recognize His voice anymore?
Another daughter is praying for direction. She is on the brink of stepping out into the world. Decisions need to be made about her future.. hard decisions.. decisions that can only be made with guidance from God. She also feels disappointed that the things she set her heart on did not come to fruition. Her father and I are showing her that, perhaps, what she desired was not what God's plan is for her. Her specific way to pray ought to be "Lord, what is your plan for me? Where do I go from here? Please open the doors for me and show me?"
This is the daughter who will be going to World Youth Day in Spain next month. This opportunity came up.. we believe that God opened these doors for her and we are praying that He will reveal His will to her via this medium.
Specific prayer.. funnily enough, my husband and I discussed this as we strolled the gorgeous length of a never-ending beach on Sunday. We discussed, among other things, our debt and the fact that we never prayed specifically for God to show us how to reduce it. We discussed the children's individual situations and how we need to pray specifically for each one and that the time had come for us to pray over each child for her need, to listen to what was on each of their hearts and ask the Lord to intervene in each situation, rather than use our human intelligence and reasoning to resolve things.
The same is true when we have to train our children to deal with the trials and tribulations that come with life. As Sally has said throughout her book, we cannot shield them from the outside world and any pain or trial they may have to endure. We have to effectively teach them how to handle these things.
My second-born and I were having a heart-to-heart after we had an argument. Her father and I had felt that the summer job she is doing is not paying her sufficiently and that her employer takes advantage of her. She said to me "Mom, I understand how you feel, but it still pays something and any little bit helps. Besides, I know that they ask me to do a lot of things that aren't part of my job, but I look at it as a learning experience."
Her words took me back to 25 years ago when I had my first job at 18 and my own parents felt the same way about my employers. I stuck out that menial, low paying job.. mostly to prove to everyone that I was made of sterner stuff and could do it. At the end of two years I had so much experience that I was able to get a job that paid three times that salary. At that moment I was so proud of her.. for coming to this realization on her own. So many young people today expect to have everything the easy way. She is willing to work hard for it.
Our children need to learn from us, by the way we deal with our own trials, that even these things are to be grateful to God for. They are meant to teach us, help us to grow, make us stronger. I know that having seen all that their father and I have been through in the last few years, they DO see us stronger and better for all that we have managed to conquer... with God's help of course!
They have seen us running to the Father.. our First Response Training kicking in... for everything. In times of sorrow, pain, when trials threaten to break us. We are trying to show them that prayer is the answer for everything because prayer puts us into the arms of our Saviour, our mentor, our provider, the One who loves us more than we can imagine. In His arms we find peace, consolation, guidance and strength to persevere.
Like all parents, we slip and we fall.. they see us do this too. I happen to think its a good thing for them to see that we are human and imperfect, yet we can have the humility to admit when we're wrong and the courage and strength to rise again because we believe in His love for us. If they can just have this same faith, what more can we ask for as parents?