Monday, October 27, 2008

Book Review: Praying the Scriptures for your Children

Praying the Scriptures for your Children, Jodie Bernt

This is a really helpful book, which helps mothers to think through how to pray for their
children. She divides the book into 5 sections: faith, character, safety, relationship and future. Each of these is then divided into subsections. Each chapter contains numerous bible verses from which to pray for your children. The best thing about this book is that it focuses your prayer life. Instead of vague prayers, such as:

Dear God, please look after A, help him to be safe and to become a Christian

I now pray things like:

- I pray that A will confess with his mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in his heart the God raised him from the dead and be saved (Rom 10:9)

- Give A wisdom and understanding. Do not let him forget your words or swerve from them. Cause him to love wisdom and to value it above all worldly desires and accomplishments. (Prov 4:5-7)

- Let A's light shine
shine before men, so that they may see his good deeds and praise you, our Father in heaven (Matt 5:16)

- Show A
that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

- Do not let
any unwholesome talk come out of A’s mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph 4:29)

- Help A to
be self-controlled. Let him show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about him. (Titus 2:6-8)

Things I really enjoyed about this book:
  • it was easy to read, lots of anecdotes, well structured, etc
  • made me think about better ways to pray
  • I love the idea of praying straight from the scriptures, but have never been very good at it, so it set me up with some good principles. You know (as long as you are using the bible appropriately) that you are praying in line with God’s word.
  • it challenged me to think about how I pray and how much of my praying can be mechanical and over and done with very quickly.
  • it's ‘ready to go’ - each chapter contains the bible verses at the end to use to pray for your children, great for busy mums
  • a friend also pointed out that it would a helpful book also for new Christians or people that are learning to pray, and could help them get into good habits
Other comments:
  • I do have some hesitation with her use of Scripture at points - when you look up some of her references in context, they don't always seem to fit her use of them. Most of her general principles are biblically accurate though, I just wouldn't choose that verse necessarily. And like any book, if you do the work yourself as well, you can make those judgments as you read it.
  • I felt the scope was too limited. It was great to point out the ways to pray for your children, but the areas for prayer and the prayers themselves could have a much wider application, to my husband, to me, to our friends and others in ministry, for Christians and non-Christians. Therefore, after reading this book, I used her prayers and her layout, and set up a way to do it myself, with a broader scope. In doing so, my goal was to take some of the standard jargon out of my prayer and replace it with scripture, and in so doing, help me to learn more of the bible at the same time. At this point I would say it has been successful.
  • Similarly to above, I thought it was a shame it is so focussed on mothers, because it can restrict the possible audience (what about fathers?).
  • Some concerns with her prayer points were raised by my book group at the time we read this:
  1. She has a quite lot of prayers to pray for your children’s future, including their marriages. However, she does not seem to consider the option of praying for them if they remain single. For example, for contentedness for the parents and the child, or even an acknowledgement that it might be God's plan that they remain single. I don’t want to be closed to that option as a praying parent - rather I pray that my children will make godly and wise choices either in marriage or singleness.
  2. one of our group was offended (understandably, and personally) that Bernt prayed that her children would marry people from unbroken homes. She felt it was holding the sins of the parents against the child.
  3. another of our group thought that her emphasis on Satan was at times unsettling and too strong.
However, having said all that (and note that this is a longer review because I specifically read this as party of a book group who then discussed the books!), I think this is a great book and if it encourages mothers to pray biblically and intelligently for their children, that is a wonderful thing.

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