As followers of Jesus and parents, we want to create habits of faith that are contagious. This is what I contiously saw in my home and has forever changed me.
It was night time and I opened the door to her room thinking she was watching tv because I heard chattering. But what I saw was far from late-night entertainment. She was kneeled down at the foot of her bed with her hands clasped and her voice pleading to God on behalf of the world, her family, the sick, the starving, her children.
I saw my momma at the feet of Jesus.
My parents did not grow up in a life-giving Christian home so they came to know Jesus as their personal Savior later in life after having children. They had no formal discipleship, theological education and for that matter, their academic education didn’t surpass middle school.
But once they became believers the Spirit of God took a hold of their life and God completely transformed their life in big ways.
My dad took the commands in the Bible that said, “teach God’s word to your children”, “meet and pray with other believers”, “Go and make disciples”, “help the poor”… literally. Not as a suggestion but as a command.
So imperfectly we regularly prayed and read the Bible together as a family and with other believers. My parents lived out their faith as best as they could in the midst of our struggles. They regularly reminded us of God’s hope and pointed us back to Jesus. Service was modeled in a big way in our family even when we had very little they took us along to drop boxes of food to the poor.
Before you imagine a perfect Christan home let me tell you we were far from it. But my parents felt passionate about the power of gospel to transform lives and we saw it lived out imperfectly with many challenges but none the less they continued to point us to Him.
One thing that struck me that night when I saw my mom praying was how deeply connected my mom is to Jesus. She was praying on her own not because she had to but because she wanted to pray. She wanted to talk to God it was her nightly rhythm in the privacy of her room.
God is her source of strength and delight. And it was evident.
Lasting Faith in Our Children
Research has proven that habits of faith are not contagious because your child has a cool youth group leader or the Sunday school class is super fun. There’s research on building lasting faith in our children that says more often than not our kids will mirror what they see us doing. Yes, that simple.
Our faith is contagious when we live it out. We need to visibly demonstrate what we believe. Fuller Youth Insititute research says,
As we interviewed parents who had intentionally developed long-term faith in their kids, they clearly made the cultivation of their faith a priority… Each parent found his or her own unique way to stay connected with Jesus.
I’m on a journey to get back to the basics of my walk with God because I truly find joy being in His presence and because I want my kids to taste and see God’s goodness for themselves.
I want my faith to be contagious and for my kids to connect with God beyond an intellectual level.
I want them to seek after the Father’s heart not just what they can get from the Father’s hand.
4 Things to Remember in Creating Habits of Faith
There are so many things out there vying for our attention, time, ears, eyes, money, family… Things that aren’t necessarily sinful so no warning signs go off.
Have you heard that saying, “There’s no such thing as having too much of a good thing”? Well, we have our overscheduled lives to disprove this quote.
Don’t miss what I’m about to say,
The enemy wants for things to appear seemingly harmless and good so we minimize the detrimental effects they are having on us.
But before we know it all the noise and busyness has left us exhausted and crowded out God’s voice.”
I am removing the clutter, the noise, the distractions so I can get back to the basics of my faith journey: Prayer. Studying God’s word. Service. Worship. & Discipleship.
Here are 4 things I have learned along the way. I’m learning that I just need to start. I’m learning to daily set aside the distractions for just a moment so I can enjoy some intentional time in God’s presence and His word.
I’m learning to be flexible with how my time with Him will look like. I’m learning that I have to be intentional in order to create these habits because they don’t just happen.
This probably should be a point but I’ll mention this simple thing that has helped me before I get to the 4 points. Change the language you use to describe your time with God from “devotional time” to “connecting with God” or “spending time with God”. It takes it from a task to a relational connection. I also use this language with my kids in hopes to shift it from a task to “Hey! God loves this focus time He gets to talk to you and spend time with you.”
My biggest suggestion to you is–Just start!. Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait for it to feel good or less awkward. Just start reading His word. Just start praying. Don’t wait until you find a church. Or someone comes along to disciple you. Or for you find the right devotional. Here’s the thing as a believer the spirit of God is in you and He will guide you as you fervently seek Him. John 14:26 Start with the book of Psalms, Ephesians or John.
Mamas, don’t wait for that “perfect” time in your day when things are quiet and cozy, and you can sit in front of the fire holding your coffee mug. Girl, you know you have toddlers and tweens running around so that will never happen and the reality is you don’t even have a fireplace.
So stop waiting!
To become more intentional with your routines it’s important to start off with a set time you will spend with God. It doesn’t matter if it’s morning or night just find a time that works best for you.
In order to make a new habit stick, find a routine you’re already doing and add your new faith habit to it. This helps make it stick.
So one of my routines is that I make tea for myself every morning. While I’m waiting for the water I grab my Bible and journal. Then I spend time with God.
Set aside distractions
I know for a fact that sometimes our distractions have nothing to do with our kids but it’s with us. So I’ll just start with us. Just put away the phone and silence it. Turn off that screen. If you have your study on an app and you constantly wander off then don’t use it anymore. Just take out a real Bible, paper and pen. I set my phone in another room so I’m not distracted.
There are times I can’t quiet my mind so I keep my planner next to me so I can jot things down instead of trying to remember them in my head while doing spending time with God. That way I don’t feel the urge to do them right away.
When your kids or spouse come in and interrupt you tell them to give you 10 minutes because you’re in the middle of spending time with God. They can wait!
If there’s no blood or broken glass, girl, don’t fret. They can wait!
No one has ever dehydrated or starved because they waited for 15 minutes to get their juice or snack. They’ll learn to wait it’s good for them.
Plus, they’ll get to see first hand what delighting in God’s word looks like. Because they saw their momma at the feet of Jesus.
Be Flexible -Letting Go of the Ideal Way to Spend Time with God
My kids did NOT perfectly sit through nor patiently waited for me to be done with my time with God. I have 3 boys they don’t perfectly sit through anything and “patience” well they have no idea what that means. Sometimes they cooperate but most often they don’t. I’m not sure when it was worse when they were younger or now as teens and tweens.
There were times my son needed me emotionally while I was in the middle of my time with God so I’d put him on my lap and hold him while I read out loud. If he asked me questions in the middle of it I’d remind him of what I was doing and I’d be more than happy to answer his questions when I was done.
If he got fidgety which often happened, I’d tell him, “It looks like you’re ready to go play with your toys. Remember mommy is spending time with God so you can sit here with me quietly or you can go play.”
When all Chaos Breaks Loose
When the enemy was prowling around and all chaos broke loose in the middle of my time with God I’d just close it and do it in increments through out the day. I’d leave my Bible open on my kitchen counter or dining room table and I’d keep coming back to it. Sometimes I simply found a verse to hang onto and I’d meditate on it through out the day.
One thing I did was find a time I knew they’d be preoccupied. Usually, it was around their screen time, nap or rest time.
When things just didn’t work out I’d let them have screen time for those 15-20 minutes. Their screen time is very limited so I didn’t mind letting them have that time so I could get filled with God.
Be intentional: Life-draining or Life-giving
Not too long ago, I conducted a fascinating experiment. I made a choice not to check my social media when I turned on my computer. But every single time I turned it on I found myself on social media.
How is this possible for me to automatically go on social media when I told myself I wasn’t going to check it? It’s because I had created a habit.
Our brain creates habits to help us in life. It keeps us from having to remember every detail it requires to tie your shoes, drive your car every time you do it.
The thing is our brain doesn’t label your habits as life-draining or life-giving. After we’ve performed anything enough times and you get gratification signals it then goes into auto-pilot which create neural pathways in our brain. Habits emerge without our permission. Which can be a good thing but it can also be challenging when we choose the life-draining habits.
But thanks to the Holy Spirit working in our lives we have hope. We can replace the life-draining habit with a life-giving habits.
We have to move out of this “victim” mentality and take responsibility for the choices we make each day. I actually think I have a lot of self-control so I was mad that I was on auto-pilot mode and had not realized it. But the thing is we can choose what we put on auto-pilot mode.
Once I realized I was on auto-pilot mode with this life-sucking habit I went to my desk and told myself “I am going to stick to my work! I’m going to work hard now so I can have time to “peruse” later.”
I had to tell my brain that we were going to do something different now so I could replace my old habit. I also told myself the reward–I’ll get to peruse later.
I replaced the old habit with a new life-giving habit. I had to perform the new habit several times before my brain was on board to put this life-giving habit on auto-pilot mode.
Every day we have a choice we are not just robots going through the motions of life.
Even if sometimes it feels like it we can intentionally decide for ourselves with the power of the Holy Spirit. For me it was decicing I would not engage on social media in the morning because it was a distraction that kept me from God’s word.
Yes, there will always be things out of our control … but through the Spirit’s strength, we can choose how we’ll respond. We will mess up but the more we choose life-giving habits the more they become a part of our daily routine and we begin the process of replacing and kicking out the life-sucking habits out of “auto-pilot” mode.
Today you can start creating life-giving habits that feed your soul and encourage your children towards a lasting faith. Take one of the tips from above and put it into practice today!
I’ve tasted and seen His goodness so I tell you this not because I hope it’s true or merely experienced it, but because God’s word is true. It’s an anchor for our soul.
Need help with prayer? I have created 31 Days of Praying through the Psalms for your Children that will help encourage you to connect with God in prayer and connect with your child with questions, biblical affirmations, and encouragement.
I am all about getting into God’s word but I also love studies that help you unfold God’s truths. These are some studies I have enjoyed and are Bible-focused (not just fluffy stories and a verse):
15 minutes a Day: John Bible Study by Kari Denker I like her studies. We used her John study to go through as a family. It was simple but profound at the same time.
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins is a more of a how to study the Bible book. She also has some free studies with audio on her website.
One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer I enjoy all of her studies but this was one of the many that hit home.
Defined by Kendrick brothers goes through the book of Ephesians. We are currently going through this as a family because they have adult, teen and kid versions of their study.
Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer I really enjoyed doing this as a family. She also has adult, teen and kid versions of her study. You’re studying the same thing but at your own level and can discuss it as a family.
Psalms 23 The Shepherd with Me by Jennifer Rothschild- I loved this study!
Here are other resources to help you in developing your habits of faith in prayer and bible study:
Studying Scripture Method
Reading Plan for Reading through the Bible
5 Specific Ways to Focus on God’s Word
Where to Start Reading in the Bible
What to Say and How to Pray
Personal Bible Study Made Simple
Making Time for Prayer Everyday
Bible Study Questions that Will Help You Dig Deeper
5 Bible Study Methods Anyone Can Do