It's vital to our children to teach them the Laws of God. It's vital to lead them in the paths of righteousness. It's vital to "train our children in the way they should go." We know all that.
BUT, what is equally important is praying for their hearts to remain soft and pliable, so that the Word of God can take root. IF the soil of our children's heart is not soft then all the training in the world will be for naught. We can spend all day everyday training and teaching and end up with children who turn away from everything they have been taught the first chance they get.
As I read the word of God I see over and over how the downfall of a person was a hard heart. It wasn't that they didn't know the truth or that they didn't know the consequences of their actions, they just had hard unrepentant hearts. Starting from the beginning we have all wanted our own way. We desire to fulfill the lust of the flesh. WHY we are so shocked when our children have the same desires is beyond me. My little ones from the earliest ages all wanted things their way. As they have grown and matured they see that having what you want all the time leads to destruction, but that comes from experience and revelation. My one year old doesn't understand this. He just wants what he wants. We are the same way. We figure out along the way that our ways are most of the time not the best way. Then we cry out to God with broken hearts for the mess that we have made in our life and as a good parent he swoops in and saves the day. UNTIL we learn that really the WAYS of God are so much better than our way. So, we begin to live our lives for him because Father knows best and HE IS GOOD. My point is that like us even though they know the truth sometimes they will choose another way. They will fail and disappoint, but if their hearts are soft and pliable they will repent quickly and seek God's face.
The question is how do we keep their hearts soft??? MOST IMPORTANTLY we have to PRAY for this. I think PRAYER is the most effective tool that we have as children of God, sadly though it's the one we overlook. IF we do pray it to whine and cry and fuss about what we need or don't have. BUT, the word promises WHAT we ask will be given. The bible also promises that what we sow in tears we will reap in joy. We shouldn't waste our prayer times on all that selfish whining. We should be crying out to God for the hearts of our children, our families, our neighbors, and our nation. We should be pleading with God to turn our hearts back to him. We must pray for our children's heart to remain soft and pliable so that they can receive the word of God and be equipped to do the will of God.
Next, we have to REJOICE IN THE LORD. I am convinced that the reason so many of our children are leaving the faith is because WE are a joyless people. Rejoicing and worshipping keeps our hearts soft before God and the same is true for our children. My children and I turn the worship music up and dance all around this house praising the Lord. They fall in love with God when they see Mom in love with her Savior. Be thankful for every thing. Loudly praise God for the good things in your life. This makes a huge impact on your children.
Lastly, we have to be gentle with our children. Gently guide and nurture them in the Ways of God. Gently lead them. Don't force them to do the things they should, gently lead them. Be excited about devotional time with them. Show them how much you love the word of God and they will be curious for themselves. Be excited about going to church as a family. Listen to them and answer their questions gently. David says in the psalms that God's gentleness had made him great.
You are the greatest influence on your children. IF you are in love with the Lord and not just serving out of duty then they will love the Lord. IF you are excited about the things of the Lord they will be also. Love the Lord with all of your heart and they will love the Lord also. AND PRAY PRAY PRAY!!! God will answer those tearfilled prayers for your children.
Father we cry out to you. Revive our hearts again. Draw us near to you. Give us the desire to desire you above all things. Help us live for you and help us to love you will all of our hearts. Please capture the hearts of our children and keep their hearts soft before you. In spite of our failures and flaws redeem this generation for your GLORY!!! Thank you!!!