The following blog was written by Kristina Parnell. Kristina is wife to Sam (who is on staff here at Ethos, heading up our house church and discipleship efforts) and mom to 4 fantastic kids (Eli, Kate, Luke, and Ike). She volunteers in our Ethos Kids area at Marathon, is involved in lots of areas of our church, and she homeschools their 4 children. Sam and Kristina hope this blog will inspire families to step into this season of prayer and fasting together!
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My husband, Sam, and I have been digging deep, looking for ways to truly walk out our faith in tangible ways with our children. Eli, Kate, Luke, and Ike range in age from ages 3-9. We take our kids to church, worship with them, and read and memorize Scripture with them. We serve with them. We pray for them. We pray with them.
(The above paragraph made us sound pretty amazing, so it’s only fair that you read this, too...we often get frustrated at them and lose our tempers and struggle to apologize. We sometimes ignore them and pay more attention to our phones than we do to them. On more than one occasion, I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and consumed a secret bar of chocolate. Or two.)
In all seriousness, though, the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-8 have grabbed ahold of our hearts. God tells his people to:
- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
Although we often fail at these tasks, we really want to teach our kids about God in this way - an all-encompassing, every moment of the day kind of way. However, Awaken Nashville will begin soon, and Sam and I have been sitting staring at each other blankly as we try to decide what this looks like for us as a family. And then we came upon these passages from Hebrews 11:
- “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”
- “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise.”
- “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”
As we read those Scriptures, we found overwhelming comfort in the fact that we can try to do all the right things as we parent our children, but that over and over in the Word, God saves families simply because a parent had faith in Him. Noah’s faith led to the creation of an ark that saved his family. Sarah’s faith led to the birth of the family that Jesus descended from. Moses’ parents’ faith saved a child who would become a great leader for God’s family.
The most important part of our fasting and praying in this next month is our faith in God as we sacrifice to make room for more of Jesus.
So how can we tangibly lead our children this month? Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
1. We trust that our faithfulness to God will bless our families.
2. If you have younger children and need help with the logistics on how to fast, see this blog post by Amy Etheridge: http://www.ethoschurch.org/blog/ideas-for-fasting-with-young-children/
3. Invite your children to fast with you. This year when we invited our children to join us the responses varied greatly. Our 3 year old wanted to fast from the iPad on Saturdays, our 6 year old wanted to fast from desserts, our 8 year old needed more time to think about it, and our 9 year old is wavering between fasting from schoolwork (insert eye roll) or fasting from chocolate chip waffles (his most favorite breakfast).
4. Set a specific time of day to pray and read together. Mornings work best for our family so we plan to read Awaken: A Prayer Guide with our children each morning and to pray for the names in our packet together.
5. Choose a meaningful Scripture to memorize as a family. We plan to memorize 1 Chronicles 7:14 with our children.
6. Create a checklist that will help your family stay focused. We plan to display a calendar on the refrigerator so we can place a checkmark on each day (or even a set of interlocking rings of paper so the kids can tear one off each day throughout the month).
7. Place a bowl on the center of your table and fill it with strips of paper with the names of the people you are specifically praying for during the month. Every day the parents will pray for all of the names on their lists, but let one child a day pull one name from the bowl and say a special prayer just for that one person.
8. Be open with your children about how you are growing in your faith as a result of fasting and praying daily. Also, be open with them on the days that are harder and you feel your sacrifice more deeply. Ask them to pray for you especially on those hard days!
We would love to hear more ways that you are walking intentionally as a family throughout this month of prayer and fasting. You can connect with us at .
Sam and Kristina Parnell