We have been discussing 5 Ways to Lead Our Children’s Hearts to Christ and going deeper with practical tips for each area. First we talked about Keeping Distractions at Bay, which includes some great preventative measures to help keep our children from getting distracted from their relationship with God.
Second, we discussed the next two combined: 5 Ways to Deal with Our Kids’ Sin. When kids understand the importance of confession and asking the Lord for forgiveness, their hearts will soften.
Today we will be discussing a fourth way to reach our children’s hearts: Teaching a Dependence on God.
We live in an independent world where we grow up in a culture with a “Do it yourself” mentality. Independence is seen as a strong, desirable trait, and dependence as a weak one. But in the Kingdom of God, things are reversed. God’s Word says to rely on the Lord for everything. In fact, this builds our relationship with God when we depend on Him.
We see this in the Psalms over and over again when King David cries out to God, and he was known as a man after God’s own heart.
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. Psalm 73:23-25
The Lord also told Paul, as stated in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore Pauls says, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.”
So how can we teach our kids to depend on God like King David and Paul? Here are some steps to help encourage them in this process:
1. Model It Yourself
We need God just as much as our kids, and so we can be a natural example of what it looks like to depend on Him. When we are having a bad day, we can tell our children that we are struggling and really need God’s help today. We can go in our rooms and pray for His strength and let our kids know when we are doing so. Our kids need to know that we are not perfect and that becoming an adult doesn’t mean you have “arrived” and don’t need help anymore. When they realize this is a life-long process of trusting and relying on God, they will begin to see the need for God throughout their lives, too.
2. Teach Dependence in the Moment
When your kids come to you because they are struggling, whether it is with anxiety, anger, confusion, or temptation, we can explain to them that they must rely on God to help them. God did not create us to rely on our own strength, but to rely on Him. We can pray with them in that moment and ask for God’s Holy Spirit to fill them up and help them through whatever trial they are facing. Consider sharing scripture verses to help them understand what this looks like. Here are a few examples:
Praying for Peace:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
Praying for strength:
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31, ESV
Praying to be fruitful for God:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5, ESV
Praying for direction:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
We can also lead them to Jesus if they haven’t truly trusted Him as their Lord and Savior. The first and foremost way to teach our kids to depend on God is with their salvation. Here is a resource from my friend, Beth, to help walk your child through a salvation prayer.
3. Remind Your Kids When God Has Helped Them
After your children have prayed for help, you can take notice when it is apparent that God helped them through their trial. For example, if your child was afraid to go to school, when you pick him up and ask how his day was, you can remind him that God helped him get through the day and was with him and thank God for that. The more our kids see that God was at work in their lives and are reminded of those times, the more they will continue to rely on Him in the future.
Learning to rely on God is a process, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see a dramatic change right away. The more you model, teach, and remind your kids of God’s faithfulness, pointing them to scriptures to encourage them, the more they will learn to depend on God for themselves and grow in a humble heart to follow the Lord.