A Generous Grace

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Spiritual Disciplines for Real Families: 14 Creative Ways to Help Your Kids Praise God

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Would your kids believe me if I told them eating mac and cheese could praise God?

True story.

If Romans 12 is true–then it’s all His. (Um. Even that questionable, nuclear-orange variety of tube-y pasta.)


When we think worship, it makes sense that we think of an event; of something we start and stop and then go on our way. But the Bible’s got a different idea altogether. Colossians puts it this way:

That means whether kids are hanging from a rope swing, screaming like a Banshee; or muscling through a pop quiz; or (yep) going to the bathroom, everything is either toward God…or not.

Disciplines like these prep us to make our lives, and our kids’ one long, seamless song toward God.

THE KEY: To demonstrate to kids that because we were created to worship, all of life is praise: We are always. Worshipping. Something.

Rather than an event, praise is a continual happy, upward-facing lifestyle lived for God’s honor and purpose–from the inside out.

We’re helping kids answer, Who’s getting the honor right now, if I’m honest? What does it look like to worship God in my work? My rest? My play?

  1. Gather gel pens and index cards for times of devotion or during sermons. Let your kids write and illuminate verses of Scripture, characteristics of God they’re loving right now, or thoughts they want to remember. The cards can be posted in rooms or inside closets or cupboards, stuck in books as bookmarks, or tucked in backpacks or lunches as reminders.
  2. Eric Liddel famously spoke, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Use your kids’ strengths and interests as arrows pointing them to the way they feel God’s pleasure! Are they bookworms? Athletes? Artists? Lego enthusiasts? How can they use these skills for God’s pleasure? Check out what God says of a man Bezalel, in the time when the Israelites were constructing the tabernacle:

    How has God gifted your kids to make His name beautiful? This post speaks of Proverbs’ term for wisdom in Hebrew–hochma. It covers technical skill, artistic skill, even martial skill–and more traditional concepts, like prudence (don’t miss this video on it from the Bible project!). If this is so, then all of those exhortations to pursue “wisdom” in the first chapters–they’re encouraging us to educate our kids, inlaying skill and competence for God’s honor. Help your kids see that their enjoyment and gifting is from Him and for Him, even when their work is not distinctly “Christian” in subject (excellence in math homework or emptying the dishwasher pleases God, too). And a hint–the Pharisees remind us that just because we’re doing praise stuff on the outside, God only really cares about our hearts. So challenge your kids toward that….not more outward stuff. The idea: Praise God with your work and your unique contributions.

  3. If your kids are invited into worship times at church, create great memories around this. I love wrapping my arms around my 8-year-old while we sing (our church is the kind of place where it’s okay for him to stand on the seat). I hug my kids and smile at them while we’re singing.
  4. Show kids how to create a haiku to express themselves to God. For all of you feeling a little rusty on your poetry–a haiku is three lines of poetry: one line of 5 syllables, then another of 7 syllables, then a final line of 5. Here’s one I scribbled down a few weeks ago: Intimacy mine/whispered favor, head on chest/Can you hear? He’s there
  5. Stretch on the floor together, relaxing and praying before bedtime. As you inhale, thank God for something specific; as you exhale, praise Him for one of His names or characteristics. One night, when one of my kids was out of sorts, I prayed with him, asking to relax parts of his body from the toes up–and to meditate on a fragment of Scripture as he breathed in and out. I was amazed at how rapidly this calmed him.
  6. Consider giving your kids a small budget to create their own worship playlist. Help get them started by showing them how to preview some of their favorite songs and artists–perhaps those they hear at church or on the radio.
  7. Go on a hike or walk, wake up to see a meteor shower, or visit a national park. Let nature inspire you to praise its mind-blowing Creator and Supreme Engineer.
  8. Before kids head to school, huddle up for a quick morning prayer. Sure, you can ask God for a good day–but the ultimate idea? This day, God, is for You. As you create “touch points” for your kids throughout the day, pointing them back to God, our praise becomes more and more seamless.
  9. Does one of you play a musical instrument? We recently found a free piano (! After six years without one, this is a huge gift to me!), and I was in sheer bliss the other night when a couple of kids were tucked beside me and we all belted out “Good, Good Father.” How can you as a parent use your strengths to point kids upward?
  10. The night before church, remind kids to be preparing their hearts for worship–a little like the Hebrews did after sunset on Friday nights. You might play worship music as your family gets ready (better than fighting, right?!), and on the way to church, consider talking about what you’re thankful for that week.
  11. Teach kids about intercessory worship. For me, this means taking a song and turning it into a prayer for someone who’s on my mind. Maybe at night before bed, when kids are talking about someone they’re concerned about, help them choose a song to sing which they want to “pray” for that person. Music is moving to me, as is loving on people, so I find that these are some of my most intimate, vibrant prayers.
  12. Consider prayers where you simply admire God, and call Him by His names. “God you are so…”
  13. Help them find their “Sacred Pathways”. Author Gary Thomas writes of various ways that we each best connect with God–sort of like our own worship personality! Click here to check out some of the main pathways he’s identified.  (I’ve got at least one activist, and one caregiver.) Talk with your kids about which they feel might describe them–and how they’d like to explore that “personality”!
  14. For more ideas, check out this post on 31 Anything-but-Vanilla Ways to Bring Fresh Flavor to Times with God. 

Help us out! How do you add worship “signposts” for your kids throughout your day?

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  1. We aim for every night, but…most nights following dinner we keep a #1000 gifts journal as a family. Each year we hit our 1000 gift of thanks to the Lord, we go out for icecream!

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