I wasn’t raised in a religious home. There was some exposure, because both sets of my grandparents were religious, but in our home we didn’t pray every night, nor did we go to church on Sundays. I believed in God, but I wasn’t living consciously for Him, before He gripped my heart and I gave my life to Him. This happened when I was a teenager, when my parents, my siblings and I moved to America. A local Russian church had sponsored us to move to the USA, so we began attending meetings there. Ever since then I knew that if I ever had children I wanted to raise them to have their own relationship with God. It was very important to me, because knowing and living for God had made me incredibly happy.
So years later, when I became a mother, my husband and I prayed not just for our children, but with them, starting right from when they were tiny babies. With all of my heart I wanted to share my experience with God and how real He was in my own personal situations. As a family we’ve spoken numerous times of healing God has miraculously performed. We’ve prayed, and continue to pray, for healing for others who are ill at the present time. It’s been so faith-strengthening to see how God has answered those prayers! We know that He also answers when we ask Him to help us to be pure and kind to one another and preserved for Him in this world. As we pray together, every night we always encouraged them to have the freedom to add their own needs. We’ve encouraged them to pray in secret as well, about their private needs or troubles. The intention is that they should always know that God is listening.
So my children have grown up with a knowledge that God exists and that He is always near. We have taught them that God is always there for them, no matter how difficult of a situation they find themselves in. Whether it’s when they are at school and need a bit of encouragement, or even help with their assignments! He is close by and real when they have struggles with their siblings, perhaps in heated arguments over whose toy it is, or later clothes. He gives us help not to be selfish, envious, fearful, and so much more. We’ve taught them that nothing is too frivolous to bring up before His. In that way they learn to talk with God about their troubles.
I have to be an example
My biggest need has always been being a good example to my children. It is not enough for me as a parent, to be able to read the scriptures to the children at the dinner table or to pray with them at night, but it is of utmost importance to live my life for God, so that they see that what we read about and pray about is real in my life. For example, that they see me react with peace to what could be a stressful situation. Or patience, instead of impatience, contentment instead of envy, etc. That life they see in me is my testimony to them of my connection with God, for without Him, none of that would be possible. My reactions to the situations of life should speak of my own rich prayer life
There are many situations that come up in life and many needs and my children can learn from me that God gives us everything we need and that He cares for us. I am an ambassador for Christ to my children and as a representative of Him, my children learn of Him through the way I live my life.
Teaching our children to have their connection with God has been a conscious work for my husband and me. Every day they can potentially be exposed to bad influences from the world around them, and having this connection with God will equip them with what they need to make the right choices. Having an open conversation with them about our church life and the Word of God is the most important part of our daily life. I believe my children have grown up seeing the value of having personal lives with God. It’s a lifelong development and as a parent I will continue to do my part by being a good example.