Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
Devotion 7 in the Summer Series "A Prayer for Armor"
This is the last devotion in my summer series on A Prayer for Armor. We have explored how the armor mentioned in Ephesians 6:14-18 applies to moms. Motherhood can be a battlefield, and each piece of armor can equip us for its success. We can rise from its challenges unscathed and triumphant, knowing that we are employing scriptural wisdom for godly victories in our children and households. And we can rest in the comfort that we have all hands on deck, for Christ is always with us and accessible in prayer.
There is strength and power in numbers, for not only is Christ with us as we march forward, but we also have each other. We have each other through this online community, for instance. I am struck by how Paul closes our section of Ephesians in verse 18: "To that end keep alert and always preserve in supplication for all of the saints." He knows that the saints are valuable in numbers, and that's why he requests prayer for them collectively.
The final piece of armor in our arsenal is the sword of the Spirit, and I am convinced that there is a collective element to it too. Recall these words of our prayer, which I reprint in bold, and remember that the words in italics are from Ephesians:
...And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
May we teach your word to our children and mine it ourselves. Forgive us when we approach your word as a mere duty or triviality; make it alive to us. May it bring hope and remind us what is real in life, so that we can be free and our children can make good choices.
In the second week of our series, we explored the importance of truth and its presence in scripture. Scripture's truth can take the form of law or theological teachings. Adherence to it distinguishes us as God's followers and promises reward. That reward is both heavenly and earthly, ranging from salvation to the ability to thrive, for we lead better lives when we follow the laws of the One who created us.
Truth indeed is a gift from God to be shared. God shares it with us through the pages of scripture. We can share it with our kids as we teach them its stories. And we can enlist the help of our faith communities to supplement both responses.
The help of our faith communities is essential to the Christian development of our children. I read a shocking statistic the other day that the majority of Christians commit their lives to Christ between the ages of 5-12. About 30% of children in that age range respond to the invitation, verses a mere 5% as adults. Adults have more barriers to overcome for conversion, whereas young children basically believe what they are told and can build upon it for a lifetime.
Our children have a unique susceptibility to God, yet it's problematic because many parents are currently leaving the church. Instead of formal affiliations, they adopt a spirituality that is individually practiced. Some of these adults have been burned or disillusioned by the church, and although their frustration is real, their solution is problematic. It seems freeing to leave the church, but it really entails a heavier burden. They are isolated from the support of a faith community through life's challenges, and their children lack the exposure that might be needed for them to accept Christ and mature their faith.
The sword of the Spirit is strongest in numbers. We know that we parents are not perfect, so inviting others to share scripture's truth with our children takes the sole burden off of us and opens more channels that might resonate with them. Chances are you had someone other than your parents help to shape your faith as a child since you are reading this devotion. Think for a moment and remember whom God sent into your life.
As mothers, we read scripture and teach it to our children. But we also open other channels. In so doing, we make sure someone always has our back as we march on - and we take advantage of the comfort that will also catch us when we fall.
To pray, you are invited back to the full prayer from week one by clicking here: A Prayer for Armor.
The faith statistics above are from the book Leading Kids to Jesus by David Staal.