For almost 26 years now, I’ve been teaching seminary students. Do you want to guess one common characteristic I see among young seminarians who are most seriously faithful in their spiritual disciplines?
It’s not that they have a call on their lives, though that matters.
It’s not that they’re studying the scriptures for seminary, though that’s helpful in their disciplines.
It’s not that they grew up going to a church where the Bible was proclaimed and prayer was promoted, though that’s a gift from the Lord.
It’s not that they all have had a mentor, though those with a mentor tend to be more faithful in their disciplines.
It’s not that they’ve all had some moment of brokenness that drove them to the Word, though some have had such an experience.
No, here’s what I’ve learned: those who are most seriously faithful in their spiritual disciplines grew up in a home where their parents openly modeled their own commitment to these tasks. From these faithful students, I’ve heard stories about:
- A dad sitting at the kitchen table very early in the morning with Bible in front of him
- A mom reading the Word at her desk in the hall, the kids knowing that she was talking to God for a while
- A father in his favorite chair with a cup of coffee in one hand and his well-marked Bible in the other
- Children hearing their mom pray every morning for them by name, her bedroom door open as they walked by – and they sensing a presence of holiness as she prayed
- Parents who kept a handwritten prayer list (with answered prayers highlighted in yellow) over which they prayed each morning
- A dad who pulled his kids to his lap to pray when they were small enough to do so, and later just put his arm around them and prayed for them when they were taller than he—but he not missing a day to cover them in prayer
- Parents who met together early each morning to study the Word together, who then briefly taught their elementary and teenage kids what they were learning over breakfast
You see, these parents may have had a “prayer closet” and private den to which to go to meet with God, but that’s not where they went. Instead, their open approach to their disciplines let their kids see that meeting with God is an everyday event – it’s a lifestyle rather than a ritual.
Parents, do your kids see you reading the Bible other than Sunday? Do they hear you pray at times other than when there’s food on the table? From what I can tell, it makes a difference when your kids see and hear your faith lived out.