Prayer (for him)
Very early on in Elliott's life Chris and I began a nightly rhythm of praying for Elliott before we go to bed. We thank the Lord for who he has made Elliott to be, for bringing us so much joy, and then we pray prayers of petition- asking God for help in areas of immediate need (i.e: sleep) and areas of growth in his life. We pray that he would come to know the Lord at an early age, that he would be a light and example of the Father's love to our friends and family, and that he would one day meet friends that share the same beliefs in God. We also pray for his future wife and for their future marriage. I could go on and on because really, I could pray for this kid all day long!
Before we started praying for Elliott, Chris and I didn't really have a prayer rhythm at all. We prayed together at meal times, when we sensed that there was some attempt from the enemy to steal, kill and destroy in our lives, or when there was an emergent need- if a friend or family member was walking through a tough time. Praying together each night for our son has been one of the most unifying experiences in our marriage. We, together as one flesh are coming before the Lord in humility knowing that we cannot and will not see Elliott become the man he was created to be without the Lord in his life. To have a shared mission between us that we both feel so wholeheartedly passionate about is a blessing to each of us and to our marriage.
Prayer (with him)
Prayer is so important to our relationship with God. I wanted to try to figure out a way to make prayer seem normal to Elliott- not just a token thing we do at the end of bible study or at meal times (though we do these things, and they are very good!) but something that is just built into each day in a natural way. I'm still thinking this one through, but one thing I came up with was to pray out loud with him each time I say a quick prayer for someone else. I say quick prayers for other people in my head all the time, so why not say it out loud for Elliott to hear? For example, if an ambulance drives by with the sirens on I might say "Elliott, did you see that ambulance? We should pray for who it is going to help! Dear Jesus, we pray for the person the ambulance is going to help. Please help them get there safely and lay your healing hand on the sick or hurt person they are helping. Amen!" One time I forgot my sweater in the doctor's office and a very kind woman ran out into the parking lot to give it to me. So I said to him "What a nice thing! Dear Jesus, please bless than nice woman who brought my sweater back to me! I pray that she has a wonderful day. Amen!" We also pray for Chris when he has exams, or is preaching at Merge (youth group) and pray for people that ask for prayer (over text, email, Facebook etc) I don't want Elliott to think that telling someone you will pray for them is just a nice sentiment, but something we actually do- right then and there when they ask! We believe prayer matters and it makes a difference. I desire for Elliott to see prayers answered in his earliest memories, and for him to expect that when he prays he will see the Lord move.
I found this idea online and fell in love. We bought Elliott a journaling bible and plan to fill the margins with notes for him- things we feel the Lord has spoken over his life, prayers that we have for him, and even just words of wisdom that we hope to one day make an impact in his prayer life and relationship with God. It is such a neat thing to know that God knows the man that Elliott will become. He knows already what he will struggle with and what he will excel in. We trust that the Lord will prompt us by His Holy Spirit to write the words he needs to hear and that Elliott will read them when he needs to. What an amazing partnership with the Holy Spirit!! This excites me and propels my own relationship with God. I have so much anticipation of how God will work in this over the years!
We bought a beautiful bible for this, and plan on giving it to him when we feel the Lord prompting us to. I expect it won't be until he is at least a teenager, but perhaps not until he is 18, or later. When I told Chris about this idea he was on board right away, but when I showed him the bible, he told me to order it immediately! Take a look at this beauty.
Well, that's all I have for now. We have plans of how discipline, work through conflict resolution and how to teach/show empathy all with Jesus at the center, but I'll hold off on that until we have real examples of how this is working itself out in our parenting.
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