So anyway, the other morning, I told Liam I wanted to pray for him before we began the day. I placed my hands on his fuzzy head as he stared right at me, and I said, "Do you know what it means to pray? It means we talk to God. We ask him for things--"
I stopped right there. 'We ask him for things?' I thought. 'That's the first thing I teach my son about prayer?'
Of course, it's true. Of course we ask him for things. And he wants us to ask him for things. But if it stopped there, it wouldn't be very accurate. We don't just ask him for things. And I'm realizing that in teaching my little guy, my own biases, flaws, and gaps in knowledge and wisdom become exposed so quickly. And he's just two months old! I can only imagine what it will be like at age 2 and 5 and 14 when he's asking tough questions and not just staring blankly at me.
It struck me because teaching my children about the Lord is my number one task as a mother. Leading them to Jesus is a huge responsibility that I don't take lightly. And yet there's so much grace. Grace for inaccurate teachings about prayer. Grace for the times I will mess up in much bigger ways. God wants us to rely on him - and more than anything, I want Liam to see that. I want him to see his mom leaning so heavily on Christ and on his mercy and grace. I want him to see a mom who humbles herself enough to apologize when she has wronged him. I want him to see the gospel lived out in our lives. I want him to understand that we have been graciously accepted by a holy God, not by our own merit, but because Jesus lived the life we should have lived and paid the penalty for our rebellion by dying in our place. I want Liam to understand that he isn't reconciled to God through trying to be a good boy, but through Christ's perfect record. As it's been so beautifully said by Tim Keller, "The gospel is this: We are more flawed and sinful than we ever dared believe, yet we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope." That's good news, friends!
So when I tell Liam about prayer in the future, it'll go a little like this... "We don't just ask him for things. No, we talk to him like our dad. Because he is our dad! He's in Heaven, so it's hard to see him, but he's just as real as your mom and dad and he cares for you more than either of us ever will. He just wants us to talk to him. To tell him how we feel, what we worry about, why we're happy or why we're sad. We can thank him, too, for the many things he has done for us. He listens to us and he cares. Not because he has to - he has enough joy to last eternity. But he created us to share in that joy."
PS - If I can suggest one more book... Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. It is so exquisitely written, Gospel centered, and thoughtfully explained. I read it in just a few days and will probably read it many more times as we traverse this parenthood journey.