Proverbs 2: Praying for Our Sons {Day 10}

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“For wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.” {Proverbs 2:10-15}

In day one of this prayer journey, I mentioned we were moving across the country and my posts would likely not be a consistent… promise kept.  Nevertheless, I hope and pray you have been spurred on to pray for your children through Proverbs 2. Each verse is full of such simple yet profound wisdom and breathes out the heart of every mother I know.

My kids are into their third week of school. Each of them in a new school, in a new city. They have dived into the deep end and I couldn’t be more amazed by their bravery and positive attitudes. They miss their friends in California but are open to new relationships which encourages me to do the same. As I scroll my Instagram feed and see all of your first day of school photos, I know one of the biggest things we worry about as moms is who our kids are drawn to and what friend groups they will connect with. This is why today I think we should pray through not just one verse but five and pray for our kid’s friends and the people they will want to be near and spend time with the most.

Today let’s pray first and foremost again the LORD’S wisdom would be part of who they are… not just something they call upon when needed. May wisdom be rooted so deeply in their hearts that the Spirit of God {not just our concerned voices} would bring conviction and resolve when it comes to moments of peer pressure, deciding if they are going to be who they are or someone else who wants to just fit in.

Let’s give thanks to God who says He will do this!

Let us pray the knowledge of who God is, His word and wisdom would be so pleasant to their souls that it would be more lovely than other things seeking to pull their attention away from Him.

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
    and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
The wise of heart is called discerning,
    and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
    but the instruction of fools is folly.
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
    and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” {Proverbs 16:20-24, emphasis mine}

Knowing who they are and being resolved about this will lead them to good friends and will help them be good friends.

Let us also pray this wisdom will serve them in discretion and protect them from being followers of the wrong crowd.

That this wisdom will help them flee the temptation to fit in where they don’t.

Let’s pray they surround themselves with kids who speak well, who don’t tear down others with their language but build others up and are encouraging, life giving people.

May our kids be those kids we are all praying for, and may they become and surround themselves with people who point others to Jesus.

Amen.

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 9}

Artwork by Starr Pappagalo

Artwork by Starr Pappagalo

The hardest thing about parenting for me is remaining immovable with the ups and downs of their emotions, phases and behaviors. Especially as they are finding their own way, trying to understand who they are, who God is and discover for themselves what it looks like to love and serve God.

The key word for me in Proverbs 2:9 is “then.”

We certainly have a due diligence as parents to teach, impart and lead our kids but this word “then” is indicative of what is out of our control no matter how hard we try.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.

In fact throughout this Proverb you will find the word “then” and it’s important we don’t view these sentences as formulas but as conditional statements. The love of God is certainly unconditional but his promises and benefits can certainly be conditional.

Understanding what is right, just and fair; understanding the fear of the Lord {Proverbs 2:5} and really the text in verses 9 through the end of Proverbs 2 states the protection, understanding, knowledge and freedom available to all of us is received under the conditions of verses 1-9 when we receive, treasure, turn our ears and call out for insight and understanding of God Himself.

A wise friend once told me that when you are laying awake at night, asking God to give you a word or sign of encouragement, it’s helpful if He has something to work with. When we pursue the word of God we begin to understand who God is and how he deals with his people. When we talk with God and practice listening, we will more likely actually hear from Him. God is always at work and always moving regardless of what we do.  However, if we posture ourselves to turn towards Him, we will more likely see Him moving among us.

Friends, we can do all the right things as parents and yet if our kids don’t fall on their faces before God on their own terms then they will never fully receive all He has for them.

Today let’s begin with the “ifs” before we get to the “thens.”

Let’s once again… and this is NEVER redundant, pray they seek him, call out for him and turn their hearts and ears towards the things of God.

Let’s give thanks that due to God’s mercies being new every morning, the opportunity is endless and available to them each day.

Let us also pray for the “thens” to come by way of freedom received by God himself and not behavior modification or a simple desire to do the right thing. Let’s pray that our kids wholeheartedly would desire to please God because they have fallen in love with Him and their obedience, their choices, their pursuits are because they themselves will want to live as image bearers of the most High God, knowing they are His beloved and He is theirs.

22 Days of Praying for Our Sons {Day 8}

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Today as I read and meditated on Proverbs 2:8 as a stand alone verse, “guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints,” my eyes were forced to go back to verses 6 and 7:

“For the LORD gives wisdom… he stores up… he is a shield…”

This business of guarding their paths and watching over them is really the Lord’s business. Whenever we eat with our friends the Steeds, Glenn always prays “God, watch over us…”

As moms, we do our best to guard, protect and watch over our littles but they do quickly get to a point when they are away from us more often than when they are near us and our faith and reliance on God’s promise to ultimately be the One who does this is tested.

The word “saint” means consecrated to God, holy, sacred and set apart. It is almost always used in the plural which indicates scriptural the “saints” are indeed the body of Christ. When we stand up in front of our faith communities and dedicate our babies, we are choosing to raise our kids as the set apart ones. Choosing to raise them as people who are called to be holy, set apart for His purposes and to bring cleansing, wholeness and shalom to this broken world they have been born into.

At some point, they get to choose for themselves this path…

 “Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” {Joshua 3:5}

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” {1 Peter 2:9}

Today let’s pray our kids would choose…

To embrace the wisdom of God

To be and live set apart as the beloved sons of the Most High God

To proclaim the excellencies of him who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light… first to themselves and to those they influence

Let’s pray they would choose to believe the Lord will do amazing things among them.

Let’s pray again that we would get out of the way when it is time and we would trust the Spirit of God to guard them and watch over them so He gets the glory and our sons will see how truly amazing, loving and great is our God.

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 7}

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Thankfully in day one, I left the disclaimer that I would not be consistent in posting these daily due to a move across the country with my family. I appreciate those of you who have been patient and understanding with me and especially grateful for all the support and prayers.

There is nothing like plucking your kids out of the only community they have ever known and loved and placing them where they know very few people, especially their age, to make you pray without ceasing. Perhaps it’s the foresight of this that led me to pray more specifically and invite you to join me because no matter where your path is, keeping yourself and the ones you love pointed towards Jesus requires us to be intentional.

One of my sons shared recently he was looking forward to starting over with this move. His entrance to a new school and hopefully new set of friends meant he could begin fresh relationships without any past impressions, good or bad, attached to him. We all have longed to reinvent ourselves at one point or another and this can certainly be a good thing.  In these early stages of parenting adolescents, I have learned it is a tenuous time for them to figure out who they are. They question almost everything and measure what they know and have learned against what they are actually seeing and experiencing.

A favorite proverb for parenting is Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Our hope as parents while we watch them birth their own faith and discover who they are, is the things we teach and impart to them will become a part of them.

Any good parent wants to teach their children the value of honesty and integrity. A good employer will look for these character traits and their teachers will appreciate students who walk uprightly displaying these two as well. A person who is honest and lives with integrity makes the best friend and husband. Sadly, it seems our world is offering a slippery slope of what these two things mean.  Honesty and integrity isn’t always a black and white issue. Social media provides platforms we didn’t deal with when we were their age that allows us to portray ourselves, how we live and how happy we really are in a less than honest way. Even Christians can compromise their way down this slope with the need to make everything look pretty and perfect. We also slide around integrity with the misused concept of “the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law” and in the name of “freedom in Christ.”Our kids are faced daily with challenges to live uprightly, honestly and with integrity.

Integrity is defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty or the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.

In other words, “Keepin’ it real.”

Proverbs 2:7 tells us God stores up wisdom for the upright but we all know the only person who ever kept it real and upright all the time was Jesus. Our only hope of ever being upright and being considered blameless in this lifetime of trips and falls is Jesus.

Today let’s pray…

May our kids really, truly and sincerely walk with freedom because of Jesus. In His life, death and resurrection our freedom is found in Him.

Psalm 119:1-3:

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!”

2 Corinthians 3:17:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

May our kids walk upright because of Jesus.  I’m not afraid to beg Jesus to help them walk with him every day of their lives… let’s pray believing this and thanking Him that even when we walk away… He. Is. Still. There.

Psalm 139:7-12:

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.”

Let’s pray our sons would indeed keep it real… keep it real close to God and His upright ways.

May they store up all the wisdom of God learned from us as well as from their precious teachers on Sundays, the family friends we surround them with and may that wisdom pop up clearly in their minds when they are faced with a challenge that tempts them to walk outside of the wisdom of God.

Let’s give thanks to God for his promise to protect them and be their shield when they walk with Him.

And friends, let’s pray that we as parents would  leave room for God to be their shield… that we would not self-protect or jump in to protect them at times when we really do need to leave it up to God and His Spirit to convict, direct, help and comfort them.

In the sweet and holy name of Jesus… Amen.

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 6}

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This is day 6 of a prayer walk through Proverbs 2. Praying for our sons {and daughters if you have them} and getting out of the way. If you want to start from the beginning, go here.

Today… let’s keep it simple.

Let’s pray for our sons to learn what the voice of God sounds like.

There are and will be many voices competing and attempting to drown out the voice of the Divine. However our God is a God of volume and wants to be heard and recognized.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. {John 10:27}

We all have these tapes playing in our heads from our pasts. Things we believe about ourselves that keep us from walking in the freedom Christ set us free to live. Things that keep us from knowing the magnificence of God. As a parent, I have caught myself far too many times praying what I just said doesn’t become one of those tapes for my sons.

Let’s pray. Because this is a broken world and they will hear and believe things about themselves and God that are not accurate. And yes…at times they will hear them from well intentioned people who love them. Including their parents.

Let’s pray our kids will know what God’s voice sounds like. What things said are of Him and what are not. Let us pray they will grow in their intimate knowledge of God based on His infallible word. That they would know and understand His character and choose to follow that sacred voice.

Amen?

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 5}

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There are several kinds of fear.

The fear that paralyzes you and keeps you from doing anything. Like the dream you have when you want to scream but no sound comes out of your mouth. Or the situations in life that require you to move but you just can’t because you are so afraid to do anything. This kind of fear causes you to shrink back and operate in ways that keep you from the fullness of all God has for you because you are too afraid to make a mistake or have things turn out wrong.

There is also the kind of fear that is exhilarating. A roller coaster that you know will turn your stomach upside down. Jumping off a cliff or a bridge into an expanse of water when you know the way down is quick and fierce but once your toes hit the water it will be refreshing and you will feel the satisfaction of being brave.

The fear God talks about several times in Psalms and Proverbs is a a different kind of fear. It’s a holy and reverent fear that indicates an awareness of God and his magnificence. So different than anything we humans can fully wrap our minds around. At times the other kinds of fear blend into our fear of the Lord and dilute our faith. We want to please Him and walk in His ways, but we don’t know Him in that really intimate way that moves us to step forward and trust Him for the outcome.

We want our sons to fear God. We want them to see Him like Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: “He is not safe, but He is good.” What we want to pray for our sons today is to draw near and jump into a life with Him… knowing He will be refreshing and satisfy the desires of our hearts.Becoming aware of who God is and who He is not. Fearing Him… starting with awe and wonder leads to an ignited desire to know Him…be close to Him…trust Him… follow Him and serve Him.

Let’s pray for our sons today…

That they would be aware of who God is:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” {Colossians 1:15-16}

Let’s pray against the fear this broken world tends to impart on our boys, in the name of Jesus. Let’s pray the correct fear… the fear of the Lord gives them a spirit of courage that is full of the power of Christ, the love of a Savior and the self-control required to live a godly life:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. {2 Timothy 1:7}

For those of us who have boys who struggle with fear and anxiety, let’s pray for God to deliver them:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” {1 John 4:8}

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” {Psalm 34:4}

Let’s pray our sons would know how to run to Jesus themselves… they would go to the source of all comfort and courage when they are faced with fear:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” {Philippians 4:6}

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” {Psalm 56:3-4}

Let’s pray for an awareness of God that will draw them in like a really good roller coaster or a daring adventure… that they will see God this way as not someone holding them back but the One who has a plan for their lives, one that is good, hopeful and full of adventure when it comes to following Him by faith and serving Him wholeheartedly.

So be it.

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 4}

How lovely is Jesus?

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I have to admit, every once in a while I have a freak out/sad moment when I see what my boys are valuing. What they think is funny, what they want to listen to, watch or be around. Then I remember when I was their age, I was a lot worse. When I was their age, I didn’t have an understand of the gospel, I didn’t have a constant flow of Jesus coming into my life and when I did… it was unbeknownst to me.

Lately, I have been moved to pray for my boys specifically that Jesus would become more lovely to them than anything else. The best way to fight against temptation is when Jesus is more beautiful than our idols and grace overwhelms us more than the things of this world that make us feel good for just a little while.

Today… let’s pray the Spirit of God quickens the hearts of our boys to seek Him and treasure Him as though there is nothing more valuable.

 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. {Matthew 6:21}

Let’s pray so when their faith is tested, it will become more and more genuine and will result in praise, honor and glory to God. It’s true… life gets harder in a lot of ways as we get older. As our kids get bigger, our concerns for them are also bigger. But God… He can increase their faith and make them stronger through these things.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, {1 Peter 1:6-8}

Let’s pray for our boys to see Jesus as the most treasured and valuable element of their whole being. So much so that they become people who are marked by joy that is inexpressible and point others to Jesus.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” {Matthew 13:44}

I am compelled to ask the question today… as a praying parent, where is your treasure? Let’s spend a few moments today reflecting on how lovely Jesus is, shall we?

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 3}

Today in our journey of praying for our sons we focus on Proverbs 2:3. If you are wondering what we are doing and why, you can go back to day one and catch up or just begin here as the Spirit leads you.

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A few days ago I was alone in my car after having just experienced something very frustrating. I am part of what is referred to as the sandwich generation: someone raising kids and caring for ailing parents at the same time. The way things are here at times, I consider it more of a panini. Hard pressed on every side with the heat turned up so high you think you might actually melt and everything is just going to ooze out of you.

Back to being alone in my car… that day, I started crying so hard and was so upset started y e l l i n g at God. I voiced my disappointment in Him, in the situation and how I just want it to end. I was honest. I was mad and I was raw. By the end, I was begging God to show me the right thing to do and how to go about it.

God can handle our feelings. The good, the bad and the really ugly.  When we can be honest with ourselves and God, He has the ability to show us the depths of our hearts and how He is working in us and through us. He is the author and perfecter of our faith and he knows every thought before we can even think them.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
   You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
  You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
  Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”

{Psalm 139:1-4}

Today let’s pray for our sons, that their intimacy with God would grow so deep they would unafraid of approaching the throne of grace as they are, with all their emotions, thoughts, doubts and concerns so they will gain fuller confidence in God’s love and acceptance of them.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.                        Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

{Hebrews 4:14-16}

Let’s pray that in the presence of God they would know and sense the grace of God that is given to them for the forgiveness of their sins.

Let’s pray when they fail (not if), when they are stuck, when they don’t know what to do… they would run to Jesus.

These first few verses of Proverbs 2 indicate wisdom is something to be sought after. Let’s lead by example and call out for insight and raise our voice for understand as though our lives and the well being of our sons depend on it. Do not shrink back.

Now to him who is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

 

 

Proverbs 2: Praying for Our Sons {Day 2}

Photo Credit: Jake Stimpson via Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Jake Stimpson via Creative Commons

We are on day 2 of praying through Proverbs 2, verse by verse for our sons. If you missed day one, you can go here.

Several years ago, I attended a women’s Bible study that was life changing. Not only did the content of Beth Moore’s Patriarchs transformed my perspective of God, it also ignited in me a passion for His Word. That’s when I began to approach the scriptures each time with a little prayer asking the author and perfecter of the Word and my faith, to give me insight and understanding to His words. God wants to make sense to us and He wants us to understand his words and receive His wisdom. Sure, there are mysteries about God and things we will never have crystal clear understanding of this side of Heaven. But as He always pursues us and promises to be with us, He also wants to draw us into Himself.

Today let’s give thanks to the One who is able to open our sons ears, hearts and minds to understanding.

In the name of Jesus, Let’s pray against the things that fill our boys ears and minds that distract and drown out the voice of God. And while we’re at it… let’s pray the same for ourselves so we can hear God direct us in the raising up of these young men.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” {Proverbs 12:15}

Many people shy away from the Bible because they think it’s so hard to understand. The Spirit was given to us in order to light our way and give us understanding. Let’s pray for this. Let’s pray God will surround our sons with friends and mentors who will give them godly advice and wisdom and that our sons would be those people to others as well.

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” {Psalm 119:130}

Our boys are have a depth to their hearts only God will ever truly know. We can pray through these deep waters and ask God to reveal their hearts to themselves… convicting them of sin and raising their God given dreams and purposes to the surface so they can live them out as men who know, listen and understand the wisdom of God.

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” {Proverbs 20:5}

Throughout their lives they will gain knowledge, skills, and will soak in an unfathomable amount of information. Let’s pray with all of this, they will be able to decipher what is of God, and what is not, and that ultimately they will trust Him and not just what they know and see in the natural.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” {Proverbs 3:5}

There is nothing too big for the Lord, no problem, no crisis, no heart ache. Whatever our boys are going through, be it a move across the country leaving all their friends and family they have known and loved their whole lives. Or depression, anxiety, fear of the future, brokenness over divorce, abandonment, or the death of a parent or loved one… God is in all of it. Let’s pray for our boys in whatever they are facing and will face in the future, the would know God is in it, they would see Him, seek Him and make their ears attentive and that God would incline their hearts to understanding.

“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” {2 Timothy 2:17}

Amen

What would you add to these prayers?

Proverbs 2: Praying for our Sons {Day 1}

Our family is in a big time of transition and adding to that, my two big boys are going through their own stuff as one enters high school this fall and the other enters middle school. Here we are, at the beginning of doing this parenting teens four times and let me tell you… I am well aware of my inadequacy as a parent and the need for the Spirit to lead me in shepherding these young men towards Jesus.

I was reading through Proverbs 2 and was moved to pray through each verse diligently for each of my sons because every word is packed with power and truth for what they will need their whole lives. These things are more effective, encouraging and hopeful when done in the context of community, so I want to invite you in to pray through these 22 verses for our boys. If you have girls, of course you are welcome to join in, but since I’m a boy mama some of these prayers may be geared specifically to them and the challenges that may (or may not) be unique to them.

The idea is to focus on the specific precepts, promises, commands, etc. discussed in each verse for one day. Use these prayer points to spur on your own prayers and let’s go to the mat for our kids together. As you are reminded throughout the day, continue to focus on these particular prayers and offer them up to the Lord.

I can’t promise I will post every day consistently because well… I’m moving across the country in about 2 weeks, so bear with me as we start.

Today we start with Proverbs 2:1:

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Spirit lead…

There is no better way to know and fall in love with God but by simply getting to know his nature, his character and how he deals with his people with grace and love.  This is all found in the word of God. My kids have grown up in the church so they have heard it, memorized all kinds of verses and are familiar with many of the great stories found in the Bible.

Hearing and receiving are two different things. Receiving means to take into one’s possession, to hold, bear or contain, to take into mind and apprehend mentally. In other words, we begin by hearing and then it becomes a part of who we are.

We can flood our kids with the scriptures… and that’s a good idea… but let’s pray it becomes a part of them so it flows out of them. One thing I’ve noticed with my boys is “garbage in, garbage out.” What they take in is what comes out of them. So let’s pray against the junk they are exposed to in the world and pray them towards the word of God.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” {Colossians 3:16}
The word of God is truth laced in narratives, poetic wisdom and letters that tell us about Jesus and how to live in light of him. His commandments which are often seen simply as rules are to be received so we can live, love and enjoy life in the best ways according to His will. Let’s pray that our sons wouldn’t see the commandments as rules, restrictions or anything meant to confine them… let us pray they will receive them as keys to living free as Christ has set them free by the washing of his blood and brokenness of His body.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. {Matthew 6:21}
Let’s pray these words and commandments would be seen and received as treasure… like the finest gold or more than anything they currently value most (the best basketball shoes, a million different Stance socks, the best Nerf gun…). Where their treasure is… there will be their hearts.
Let us pray their hearts will be rooted, grounded and filled with the treasure of the Word.
 
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” {John 1:1-5}
So be it.