families

Prayer, Fasting, and Giving with Children

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We are not suggesting you fast from your children or give them away. (Tempting though it may be on some days.) Instead here are a few suggestions, a few practices to engage with children during Lent. A few suggestions from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide on celebrating Lent, at home, family style. The Big Three: Prayer, Fasting, Giving

Prayer begins in the heart.

  • Family Altar or Prayer Corner: Cover a small table with a purple cloth,. Arrange on it a cross, or a family Bible, maybe a small shallow box with sand in it, where children can draw their prayers to God, maybe a family prayer journal.  Choose a Christ candle to place in the center. (Battery powered candles are wonderful for the not yet fire worthy.) Invite children to light the Christ candle in the morning or evening, or when you are reading the Bible as a reminder that Jesus is the Light of the World. This is the light of Advent that continued through Christmastide and Epiphany--and still shines on in Lent. Invite family members to visit the Altar at least once a day during Lent.
  • Prayer Box: Take a 3x5 index card box and write prayers from the Bible, or from saints, or beautiful pieces of poetry on the card and place them in the box. Read one each evening before bed, or at the dinner table. Try prayers from This is What I Pray Today by Phyllis Tickle or Prayers for Each and Every Day by Sophie Piper.

Fasting begins in our bodies.

  • Fasting from Meat:Traditionally many folks fast meat on Fridays and they will also choose some other vice to give up for 40 days. If this works for you and your people, go for it.
  • Fasting from Superfluous Foods: Others I know have fasted eating out for 40 days, still others have fasted sugar, or chocolate, soda.
  • Fasting from Technology: For children giving up nutritional food is not an option, but giving up TV, or video games, or texting is certainly a good choice.

Fasting is not popular in our culture. To deny myself something I want will sound strange to others, but it is imminently important that we and our children learn to tell our bodies, “No.” Letting our bodies and our desires run our lives will destroy us. Fasting is directly related to prayer. We will need strength beyond ourselves to die to our wills. The will is loud, and irritating; only the peace of God can quiet it.

Fasting is directly related to prayer. In fasting we teach our wills to ignore our mere desires and focus on our true needs. But the will is loud, and irritating, and is the habit of responding to the body's wants. We need strength beyond our own to die to our desires and retrain our wills. Only the peace of God can quiet  the will long enough for it to learn.

Giving begins with others.

Giving begins right where we are. We look to our families and see where we take instead of give. We make the effort to overcome our natural pet peeves. We do something nice for someone who irritates us.

  • Giving Money: We choose to eat simple meals, or to fast junk food, and send the extra grocery money to someone else. There are many great organizations that truly give life to others.
  • Giving Time: We fast our favorite TV show and instead pack the family up and visit the local nursing home.
  • Giving Attention: We give up always having to talk about ourselves and give the gift of listening.

 Let us know how it goes.

Good Dirt: The Backstory

How does a born and raised Southern Baptist end up writing a devotional about the Seasons of the Church? Most major life changes jar us into rethinking our thinking and mine was no different. After far too many years of college and several more as a classroom teacher, I had my own children and decided to stay home. Just to keep things interesting we moved across the country to a rural setting where I knew no one. In between my days of washing cloth diapers, (Lord, what was I thinking?) sleepless nights, and strained peas, I noticed the earth was living a rhythm. (With all my education and teaching this late revelation is frightening, I know.) Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall all have a steady, life giving pace. The seasons of the earth knead their knowing into the surrounding souls.

Around the same time I read about the life of Corrie ten Boom and noticed how the life of Jesus was worked into her through a daily exposure and reflection of the Scriptures. Further that the Scriptures rooted her so firmly to Jesus and sustained her through the Holocaust is pudding proof.

I began to look around for a devotional resource that might combine an experience of the Scriptures and a rhythm to live by. I found Celtic Daily Prayer which is a collection of prayers and readings from the Northumbria community in the UK. For the next decade it would be a means of grace, a way that the rhythms of Jesus and his life began being woven into ours. This seed would someday grow into Good Dirt.

I learned from Trevor Hudson that “There is nothing in God that is not Christ-like;” and felt that lives steeped in the Gospels would go far in helping families plant their lives in that fact.

While sitting under the teaching of Dallas Willard at the Renovaré Institute for Spiritual Formation I had the idea of a family resource that would combine the richness of the rhythm of the Seasons of the Church and the life of Jesus found in the Gospels. I knew I was in over my head and pitched my idea to Ben Barczi, who was a student as well. He had been living the Seasons for years and had a much better handle on them. Thankfully he liked the idea and we decided to write Good Dirt together. I wouldn't want to be on this journey with anyone else. Ben is sheer grace. My children call him Brother Ben and that’s as true as it gets.

Good Dirt is a spiritual formation devotional for families and our belief is that those who mark their lives by the life of Christ will be formed and transformed.

We have piloted this resource all over the US. Thank you to those who read the early copies and gave us feedback. Thank you, Elane O’Rourke who edited it for us. Bless her, seriously bless her. I name all these people to say that this is a community endeavor. We stood on the shoulders of giants. (Giants who would laugh at me calling them giants and who would politely and firmly ask me not to call them giants, but obedience has never been my strong suit.) Still, thank you.

Much love,

Lacy

November 6, 2013