(Read the previous parts of the series here.) It is much better to ask ourselves this question now than when our children are years older and set in their ways. There are many aspects of a true Christian home that we have “discussed” for several months now. Something important to remember is that these are merely outward evidences of the fact that Jesus Christ is indwelling, and the Lord of Dad’s and Mom’s hearts. It is not enough to just demonstrate these outward characteristics. It all must begin with a changed heart when Jesus Christ comes into our lives.
Most of us would agree that one of the major reasons we homeschool our children is to raise up godly seed. “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed” (Malachi 2:15).
We expend much effort in setting the right example, and in consistent training, in our desire to teach children to be ambassadors of Christ. A great danger, though, is that the focus often tends toward outward exhibition of Christ-like character. If we dress them up and they act right, we have succeeded, right? Wrong! We know that God looks on the heart and man looks on the outer appearance. We don’t want to neglect the former because it truly is our hearts that God desires. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
It is interesting to listen to preaching on child training on the radio. Some would indicate godly character is caught and not taught. Others suggest it is the technique we use to train our children that produces the results. Yes, those two aspects are important, but probably the most critical aspect of raising children is often overlooked. I like to refer to the three aspects of raising children as the legs on a three-legged stool. Each one is dependent on the other two. But which leg of a three-legged stool is the most important? Obviously, it is whichever one is missing.
The first leg is the righteous, set apart, God loving/fearing lives of the parents. The second is a biblical-based, consistent approach to parenting. The third is faithful, fervent, intercessory prayer, asking a holy, righteous God to work in the hearts of the children as they grow. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10). “O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things . . .” (1 Chronicles 29:18-19). You see, it is God who works in the hearts of men, and we must cry out to Him to work in our children’s hearts.
I admit that prayer is the easiest for me to omit, and that reveals an area of character weakness in my life. It is pride that leads us to believe that, if we are a good enough example and train our children properly, they will become mighty men and women of God. I strongly believe that is why so many fail. The children look and act good, but their hearts really haven’t been changed. The same pride in the parent’s lives has reproduced itself into the life of the child. Our prayer for God to work in our children’s hearts is that hidden labor that only an omniscient God sees and hears. To the rest of the world, we may appear to have a wonderful Christian home, raising wonderful Christians. However, if the children eventually rebel or, just as bad, come to love the world and are effectively neutered as Christians, we see the real outcome of children raised without intercessory prayer.
Yes, God’s temple was a place of prayer. Jesus said that His Father’s house was to be called a “House of prayer.” In the same way, if we would say a “house of brick” or a “house of wood” or a “house of straw,” this implies what the house is built from. Are our homes built on prayer? Christian homes are. Is prayer such an integral part of our lives that we are pleading with our Lord about every aspect of raising our children? If we aren’t, sadly, it reveals the pride in our lives: “We can do it without God.” We may not think that, but when something is manifested in our actions it indicates the hidden core belief.
Dads, may we honestly evaluate whether or not our homes are homes of prayer–Christian homes.