As we have had our grandchildren with us since mid-December, we have been teaching them to pray along with us, a grace that will easily be diminished in its good work when gathering together in a common assembly of believers is forsaken; and such has been the case with their parents. And this happens quite often in these days, for the wisdom required to raise a child unto God must come from the very throne of grace, Jesus Christ ruling and reigning in the hearts of regenerated parents through the Holy Spirit.
The distractions that plagued our families when I was a child in the sixties, increased while I was a teen in the seventies, and has run amuck half a century after my birth. The love and wisdom that came by God’s grace to fathers of families in the days that raised up missionaries like John G. Paton are rare commodities in our homes today. Why? Is it because God no longer dispenses such grace through the precious sacrifice of Jesus Christ? God forbid. We have left off our duties and responsibilities. Though we certainly believe the sovereignty and good providence of God by His free grace, but sometimes we work out our own salvation and walk in the spirit in such a way that our lives reflect that we have received no such grace.
Has not “the grace of God that bringeth salvation… appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14)? As the scripture indeed asks, “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife” (1 Corinthians 7:16)? cannot this also say in the same principal of truth, ”For what knowest thou, O woman, whether thou shalt save thy child? or how knowest thou, O father, whether thou shalt save thy children?”
Because of the precious grace of God, that comes with every grace held in faith’s checkbook, let us apply ourselves diligently and earnestly to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
By God’s grace and good providence He has saved my much later in my life, so that the pitfalls common to the situations and circumstances today in America may be adressed humbly and soberly. Here are a few prayers we are teaching our young grandchildren, Melissa (almost 4) and Evelyn (2), to recite prior to the free prayers we offer as a family in our devotions:
For Meals. This prayer was sung at our mealtimes for many years, and stopped when Rachel, our youngest (now 15), began praying on her own. I would offer prayers of thanksgiving and invocations of blessing upon our meal and fellowship around the table immediately afterward. At dinner, I would read a chapter of a book on the life of a missionary, or a wonderful treatise such as John Bunyan’s Christian Behavior, taking the original language as I read it, and making in a bit more plain for the understanding of my children. This prayer is not original from me. In fact, this was taught to my wife and her family by her father, who had been a deacon in the Wesley United Methodist Church in Olongapo City, Philippines before he passed away in 1986. So the exact origin, as far as I know, is unknown. Here is that prayer:
God is great and God is good,
And we thank you for this food.
By Your grace must all be fed.
Give us, Lord, our daily bread.
For Bedtime. I don’t like much of the prayers children have been taught for bedtime, so I wrote this simple rhyming prayer for my granddaughters:
Our Father who in heaven lives
Your name is holy and You give
Me sleep at night so I’ll be strong;
Teach me of Jesus, Your dear Son.
Please show me how to trust in Christ;
May Your Word be my delight.
I pray these things in Jesus name,
For in Him only there’s no shame.
At Other Times. Although we will wait to teach this prayer to them outright, we do recite this during other devotions so that they may here this rhyming paraphrase of The Disciple’s Prayer (aka The Lord’s Prayer) daily. I wrote this paraphrase to be included in A Puritan Bible Primer.
A Poem for Praying Disciples
v9 Our Father who in heaven lives
And heavenly is Your frame;
You’re greater than all things you give;
Holy is Your blessed name!
v10 I pray dear Lord Your kingdom come,
And all Your will be done;
That all Your pleasure is fulfill’d,
And heav’n and earth is one.
v11 Give us this day our daily bread,
v12 And please forgive our debts;
As we also forgive debtors—
And Your mercy not forget.
v13 Lead us not into temptation,
Free us from the evil;
I do not have the strength myself
To defeat the devil.
v14 And if I have forgiven them
Who trespass and offend;
God’s mercy fills my heart with joy,
My Father has forgiv’n.
v15 And if I fail to forgive them
Who trespass and deceive;
‘Tis clear that my heart is not His: