Parents are the primary teachers of the Christian faith. If children see their fathers and mothers praying, using the Scriptures, and taking God's promises seriously as gifts for daily living, they will too. With this in mind we suggest some ways in which parents can make the words of faith a daily feature of life in their homes.
A way to bring God’s Word into your home and to teach your children to pray
Before leaving the breakfast or supper table, or just before bedtime. With the same regularity you bring to doing homework or brushing teeth.
Some resources to get you started:
- Start with 10 or 20 seconds of silence, hands folded, eyes closed.
- Then the father or mother says “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
- Read a passage from the Bible, or from a book of Bible stories. Or read a brief meditation from a devotional book. Invite thoughts or discussion, if any.
- Read a prayer, or invite family members to offer brief prayers of their own. Conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.
- Then the father or mother says: “The Lord keep us all in his care and grace. Amen.”
A plan for daily Bible reading can be found in the Lutheran Book of Worship (green hymnal), beginning on page 179. For a more formal style of morning and evening devotion see Responsive Prayers 1 and 2 in the same book, beginning on page 161.
God's Word and the Good News Bible are two basic English translations of the Bible, especially useful when reading with children. The Message is a remarkably accurate paraphrase in very lively English. Available at amazon.com and other mainstream booksellers.
The Children's Bible in 365 Stories is a very good Bible story book for children, featuring plain English, accurate story-telling, and lots of good pictures. Also available through online booksellers.
My Devotions is a daily devotional booklet for children. Portals of Prayer and Christ in the Home are devotional booklets for adults. Messiah keeps a limited supply of all three on hand for anyone interested; your donation to cover costs will be appreciated. For subscription information do a Google or other online search on the titles.
Two prayers by Martin Luther for families to learn and use together.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
A simple yet powerful way for parents to bless their children
When you say goodbye to your children in the morning or at any other time, give them a quick hug and tell them that you love them. After that, use your thumb to trace the sign of the cross on their foreheads and say "God keep you." You'll be surprised by how effective this will be in helping the children to remember, trust and honor God as their days unfold. And it will do the same for you.