My children’s experiences of seeing the Lord vividly everyday look very different from my own. I often see Him in my circumstances and the outcomes in which He gives when my children see Him in the immediate tangible things. In particular, my four-year-old will notice new construction and say that he believes “Jesus is building that.” He understands that new and exciting things come from the Lord.
However, the most tangible way I have been able to teach my children about Jesus’ presence and love for them is through gratitude.
We taught our children that the first posture of prayer is thankfulness. I have found that while the attitude of thankfulness does not come easily, it is a practical way to turn your eyes to the Lord.
When our boys go to bed each night, they are prompted to pray with the phrase, “What are you thanking Jesus for today?” This helps turn their little minds to the good in their lives and it also helps them see, every good thing is from the Lord.
The easiest way to help your children stay in the Word this summer, is to help them see what they are thankful for is directly reflected by the Scriptures we hold dear.
Start by asking your children what they are thankful for. For my children, they typically name their family members, their favorite toys, and holidays. Our four-year-old is comically thankful for Christmas every single day of the year.
Then, point them to Scripture that backs up the things they are grateful for. Show them how the things they value came from the Lord. If your children are older, you can task them with finding the Scriptures to share with the family that back up what they are thankful for.
Don’t forget to participate. They will respond to your actions.
Below are a couple of my family’s examples, but you can find your own based on your children’s answers.
1. Family. In our home, we make sure to talk openly about how thankful we are to have one another and how each of us were given to one another, by the Lord, to love and cherish.
For this, we point them to Philippians 1:3 (ESV) where it says, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” And 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (ESV) which says, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.”
When your family comes to your mind, it is because the Lord is helping you remember that He gave you these people to enjoy and spend time with.
2. Toys/Favorite Possessions. Often our boys will add to their prayers their latest toys or books they are thankful to have. We make sure to remind them that we are able to buy these things because of the Lord giving us jobs that allow us to pay for things we need and for things we want. This is also a great time, if they are thankful for a toy that was gifted to them, to point them back to being thankful for family who love them enough to give them gifts they enjoy.
For this, we point them to James 1:17 (ESV) which says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,”
This is a wonderful time to lift their eyes from this thing they enjoy on earth to their Father in Heaven who makes this all possible.
3. Holidays/Every Day. When our children say they are thankful for a special holiday, we like to point them to a Scripture that reminds us of Who is responsible for all of our days.
Psalm 118:24 (ESV) says “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
This is a wonderful opportunity to show your children the gift of every day, not just the special holidays.
I have noticed when we look for the small things to be thankful for each and every day, our attitudes can shift pretty quickly in a positive direction.
The daily practice of gratitude will impact your family’s ability to navigate whatever the day may throw at you.
In a season full of fun summer activities, we can easily point our children to the Word of God and ask them to use the Scripture to back up what they are thankful for. What a wonderful season to focus on the “sunshine” each good thing the Lord gives us brings into our lives.