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Being Yourself Before God

Praying HandsOne of my responsibilities as a Children’s Pastor, and more importantly as a parent, is to make sure my kids don’t learn unintentionally incorrect things about God, spirituality, and faith.   While working to teach my kids to pray, make life-giving choices, submit to their parents, and read and love God’s Word; I can also unintentionally teach the wrong things.

“I Can’t Be Myself When Talking to God”

This is a big one.   We all do it.   Out of a desire to teach our kids to “respect” God and be reverent, we all to often run the risk of demonstrating to our children that when we talk to God we can’t be ourselves.   You know you do it, right?   You suddenly change your posture, tone of voice, and countenance.   You transform yourself from a charismatic individual into someone reading an eulogy.   I’ve seen the most exciting small group leaders at my church suddenly take on the grave prayer voice more than once.   For goodness sakes, when talking to God you should be yourself!   Now, don’t get me wrong.   It’s important to be respectful, but shouldn’t you be respectful even when being yourself?

This takes on a dangerous tone when you do this around children, because without even trying to you’ve just demonstrated to your kids that you become something you’re NOT when talking to God.   You’ve just communicated to your kids that who you really are, isn’t who God really wants to talk to.   You’ve just demonstrated the greatest of christian-ese skills, garnered over the past two centuries…being two-faced.   I think Jesus may have even addressed this…

So what should you do?   It’s simple really.   Just be yourself when talking to God.   When you’re praying in front of the kids at church or your own kids when you tuck them into bed at night, talk excitedly of what Jesus has done for you, talk expectantly of what God is allowing you to be a part of, talk hopefully of what God is helping you to conquer at the moment, and talk appreciately of who God has placed into your lives.   Don’t miss the valuable opportunity to teach your kids that getting the attention of the Creator of the Universe is one of the great privileges of living on earth!

So are you guilty?   Do you even pray around your kids?   Have you brought out the funeral prayer voice, instead of just talking to God?

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.

1 Comment

  1. Scott · June 4, 2009

    I totally agree with your post. When I was a child, the adults in my church did use a “prayer voice.” But–more significantly for me–they used special “prayer words” – words like “we beseech ye therefore Father” and “thee” and “thou” many times. I developed the idea that prayer required a special language…and wondered when I would learn these important words that I needed to pray. While we do need to show respect to God when we pray, using special words, posture, or voice is not required. As you say, we need to make sure we don’t unintentionally teach that we do. Thanks for a great blog post.

    Scott ´s last blog post..Quiet Reflection