Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kids "Pray the Prayer"

Last night 3 of my kids prayed to receive Christ.

I don't want to minimize the fact that a sinner coming to repentance is the greatest of all miracles, but it was actually pretty funny. As I started to lead Cameron in a prayer, he quickly cut me off.

Apparently my prayer wasn't kid friendly enough.

He interrupted, "Dad, I'll just do it myself." He thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for his sins and expressed his desire to live as a part of God's kingdom. Ava and Beck repeated their prayers after me, although Beck only got the last couple words of each phrase- "...on cross for my sins" " to you" "...all the days of my life"

I can remember being confused at their age about this whole business of "accepting Jesus." I prayed every night from about age 6 until 14, "Jesus, in case you didn't hear me last night, tonight I accept you into my life."

Since then, I've matured enough to see that although personal repentance and faith is what brings entrance into the Kingdom of God, genuine faith is proven over time through a daily commitment. I don't go to bed anymore wondering if I'm a Christian. I've gained more assurance since I've been walking with Jesus for over 16 years.

As parents, we've decided to place less emphasis on the moment (i.e. the prayer), and more on the journey of faith. The question for us is not just, "Did Ava pray the prayer?" but "What path is Ava on?"

When I was doing youth ministry, I would come back excited that a teenager gave their life to Christ. After sharing our joy with the parent, they would say or imply something like, "Oh, Johnny already accepted Jesus when he was 6."

For all I care, my kid can "accept" Jesus everyday. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

Today I rejoice that my kids are evidencing a real desire to follow Jesus Christ!


Anonymous said...

I agree.
I don't remember "praying the prayer" and often felt left out on that part growing up in a youth group. I just kinda grew up with Christianity.

But I can tell you times when my faith was strengthened or when I made it my own.
I've come to realize that is is SO much more about the course or path- than that childhood prayer.

Lissa said...

Hey Mark! This is Lissa ... how neat that your children prayed to accept Jesus! I was actually just listening to some biographies that John Piper presented ... John Calvin, John Newton and William Wilberforce ... and they all have similar stories in that at multiple points, they had conversion experiences. One of the points that John Piper drew from this is that in Western Christianity, we often are overly anxious about the "when" of someone's conversion. He even argues that we should allow people to grapple and wrestle more with their salvation than we do. I have a great friend that I am thinking of (and others that I know of) who have wrestled with whether or not they are trully saved and people's responses to them have often been to rush them toward assurance, but Piper's thought (I think) and mine is that I think God, to a point, wants us to wrestle with our conversion experiences. Anyway, some thoughts! But I do think God is sovereign over all of these conversion experiences, drawing us more to himself with each encounter, so praise the Lord that he is creating an awareness of himself in your children!