As we strive to be intentional in the spiritual teaching of our children, I urge you during this season of prayer and fasting to not only participate, but to use your participation as an opportunity to talk with your children about the practice of prayer and fasting and what it means for your relationship with God.
There are seasons in life when we give up things that normally play a large role in our day-to-day activities, in this case eating, in order to more eagerly and deliberately pursue the Lord through prayer. Just as we are intentional in our pursuit of God, so should we be in how we communicate this new season with our children.
Children notice when things change. When mom and dad don’t sit down for dinner, when snacks are left unopened and dessert left unprepared, children understand that something out of the ordinary is going on. Take the opportunity to have an open dialogue about why you and your spouse are not eating. Explain that when we go without, it is so that we can pursue the Lord in a more disciplined and uninterrupted manner. Explain that while food is a gift from God and something that we can partake of in worship, foregoing eating for a season can serve to renew purpose, insight and direction and increase worship and trust.
Instead of catching up on the day over a family meal, think of the testimony as your children watch you come together in prayer for your church. Instead of hearing the latest news or the plans for the coming weekend, imagine how powerful it would be for your children to hear you call out to God for wisdom and direction. Instead of the laughter and casual conversation that may accompany the normal dinnertime, think of the significance in a home in quiet contemplation and sober prayer.
Consider also ways you can encourage your children to fast. Maybe your child can fast from television, video games, or a favorite toy or electronic. Be creative in involving your children and helping them to see the part they can play in prayer and fasting. Walk through this practice with them, helping them to pray and worship as they give up some form of entertainment. What a sweet time you can share with your child as you seek the Lord together!
As with every act of worship, we want to deliberately communicate the heart behind the things we are practicing. As you obediently spend time in prayer and fasting during this season, make sure you are being careful to talk openly, pray openly and worship openly before the God who sees.
May the things you partake of and the things you refrain from serve to reveal to your children your love for God and His glory.