Praying for and with our children is the only sure formula for raising fear-resistant kids — kids with real faith. There’s a Biblical precedent for this in the New Testament story that played out in the life of a young man named Timothy. Tracking Timothy’s remarkable life we find profound answers for our roles as parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and mentors in the development of child’s faith. You can read I Tim 1:1-7 to catch the drift of the story.
Paul the apostle met Timothy on his second missionary journey, while passing through the city of Lystra in Asia Minor (today, Turkey). Acts 16 fills in the details. We learn that Timothy came from a mixed marriage – his mother was a Jewish Christian, his father was a Greek, and probably not a believer. Through his mother and grandmother Timothy came to believe in Jesus and then went on to join Paul and Silas on their mission trip.
It is interesting to note: this partnership developed right after a disastrous falling out between Paul and Barnabas over John-Mark — another young man who disserted them on their first journey. Paul takes a risk and invites Timothy. Throughout Paul’s ministry, in his letters, and in the rest of Acts, the name “Timothy” appears time and again. Paul even wrote him two pastoral essays — I and II Timothy. Paul calls him “my son.” He’s becomes a pillar in the Church.
But when we probe beneath the surface of Paul’s letters we sense something distinct in Timothy’s temperament. A little Biblical detective work uncovers… First, Timothy was sickly – I Tim 5:23. Second, he was somewhat emotionally vulnerable. Paul recalls his “tears” when they parted. Paul repeatedly exhorts him with phrases like “Be strong,” “Be a soldier, an athlete, a farmer,” “endure hardship” and “keep your head in all situations.” “Guard what has been entrusted to you.” “Stir up the gift in you.” Paul repeatedly bolsters Timothy’s courage.
There were external reasons for this. Times are very difficult. Persecution was hot. But Timothy seems to need special strength. He was naturally a timid soul. In the end Tim stands firm, but he does so against pressures from within his own personality and opposition from a hostile outside world. This is why Paul begins one letter to him, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.” We could paraphrase this…”Tim, buck up your faith!”
Two powerful influences forged Timothy’s life and countered the natural timidity of his personality: 1) Timothy inherited the faith heritage of his family. 2) Timothy was bolstered by the faith of leaders in his Church community. Here is beginning of faith. It was wrapped around him — his genetics and his environment! Today we’ll look at this first influence: a Godly family
Timothy had the faith of his mother and grandmother before him. It carried on through him! Timothy had a heritage. Faith was an heirloom. His family prayed with and for him! We can’t expect our children to stand in faith against fear if we can’t stand in faith against fear on their behalf! Unless we pray for them, they will fall back into the natural inclinations of their own fallen personalities!
We rightly say that God has no grandkids. No one can “inherit” a relationship with God. But God transfers the blessings of one generation to another, through prayer and faith. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather were all preachers. That lineage, imperfect as it is makes a difference in me and my children. Your faith matters to your kids. They watch how we react when the dog chews up the carpet. They’ll watch how we pray! We can’t expect to have bold, believing kids when we aren’t bold and believing in prayer ourselves.
I hear to objections! How can we get rid of fear and replace it with faith in our own lives when our own fears are so deeply embedded? Well, faith doesn’t drop out of the sky. Faith isn’t magic. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes from the Word of God. Faith comes from exposure to the things God says. As a parent, unless you find your own faith, your own natural fears about life will infect your kids. The only answer is to build your personal faith – something comes by hearing the promises of scripture and then praying those promises back to God on behalf of our kids.
Today’s challenge: Find a promise from God in the Bible and pray that promise to God on behalf of your children. Give that faith as an heirloom by praying on their behalf against the fears in your life and their’s. As you do you’ll be echoing the legacy of Timothy and his mother and grandmother, and proving again in your family the power of prayer!