Question I answered on children and prayer for an upcoming national article

How important do you believe prayer is in a child’s life? Why? There is no
difference between the importance of prayer in the life of a child and an
adult. For Jesus, prayer was life and life was prayer there was no
separation. Prayer is the language of our life in Christ. Think about it in
natural as opposed to spiritual terms. If a child could not communicate well
by the age of 5 we would quickly call in a specialist to help solve the
problem. The same standard is not held in the crucial area of prayer. Few
children know how to really talk to God yet alone hear God’s voice for
themselves. Even fewer pray when their parents are not looking. The
importance of this cannot be overstated. I would argue that a child’s faith
is not their own until they begin to pray and seek God on their own. For
some reason, we have relegated this ability to the teenage years. The longer
a parent waits to disciple their child in this area the less of a chance
they will create a sustainable faith in their children.

What mistakes do you think adults may make with children when it comes to
the really big prayers? Fear and lack of faith are the two biggest hurdles I
see when it comes to allowing our children to live a full life in Christ.
We are afraid that if our kids pray for a friend with cancer and that friend
is not healed, then their faith might be shaken, that they might doubt God.
Sure, we need to protect our kids from some of the disturbing details of
certain prayer request, but we never need to protect them from God.
Overcoming doubt with faith is part of the full life in Christ. If you are
constantly trying to remove every opportunity for your child to wrestle with
their faith, to wrestle in prayer, you will be building a faith of straw and
one that will not stand the trials that might lie ahead.

What do you think it says about our own faith when we coach children to pray
(or not to pray) for miracles? The problem in praying for miracles with our
kids comes only when we begin to direct their faith to the results of our
prayers instead of the miracle worker who is God. Believing, faith-filled
prayer focuses on God’s ability not God’s decision making process. Much of
what we see in the area of praying in faith is more about concentration in
the moment then faith in an all powerful God. Parents who pray big prayers
with kids believe in God to sustain their child’s faith no matter what the
result. I guess what I am trying to say is that we don’t need to protect our
kids from God. Recently my three-year-old made the statement, “God can
always heal, but sometimes He doesn’t.” This is the essence of faith-filled
prayer. Unfortunately, many adults I work with are still not at this level
of understanding.

What is your philosophy of prayer? In other words, what do you believe the
core purpose of prayer is

The Devil is a Thief

The Devil is a liar and a thief. Okay, we all know that. The question is, “How does he steal?” You can know that the Devil is a burglar, but if you don’t know how he is gaining access into your life, then you can’t stop him.

Instead, things just keep disappearing from your life. One day you notice that the vase is no longer up on the bookshelf, the next you come to the realization that you have wasted your twenties or thirties believing a lie.

I read recently about a man who embezzled millions of dollars from the bank where he worked. The crazy thing is that he never touched any actual money in the process. Rather, he stole it the old fashion way, /.009 cents at a time. Somehow the man had figured out that if a deposit was valued at less then one cent then the computers would never pick it up. What the computers would do is add that .009 cents to his personal Swiss bank account. The money would disappear without a trace from where he worked but be credited half way around the world. This happened on every ATM, bank and online transaction the bank processed. Here’s the point. While it may not seem like much, .009 cents adds up to fortune when there are transaction every moment of everyday.

Satan robs our lives in the same way, except the currency of the spiritual world is our thoughts. The Devil is in a battle for our minds. At every opportune moment (Luke 4:13) the Devil will try and conduct a transaction in you mind. He does this by tempting us with just a small thought; something like, “Why are you still in your thirties and not married?” Perhaps it is the idea that your husband will cheat on you or the temptation to fear this or that situation? It really does not matter. Whatever turns your mind away from the truth of God’s Word and the abundant life (Jn.10:10) of the redeemed.

Last week I had a woman stop by my “ministry cubicle at the church.” Let’s just say that it is not the corner office. She shared with me that she was, “just so unhappy”. When I enquired as to why, she launched into a laundry list of problems and concerns. She told me that these thoughts had consumed her for an entire week. The first thing I asked her why she chose to think about all of these issues for a seven straight days?

I asked this because every time we are tempted to follow the trail of any thought, we have a choice. Will I allow this thought to distract or consume me or will I take it captive to Christ? There is no thought, even one that the Devil might present that does not have eternal and glorious potential if taken captive and made obedient to Christ.

2Cor. 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

When we lack self-control and allow these thoughts to consume us, our life is being stolen from under our eyes. Every .009 millisecond that you allow a thought to run rampant over your mind, soul and emotions is another millisecond of your life taken.

I believe that much of the anxiety and depression that we are seeing in our society today started for each person with just one thought. That thought then became an avalanche. Remember the Devil is not satisfied with footholds. Satan wants a barricade himself in a stronghold deep within the far reaches of your mind.

Eph. 4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

If you know anything about how the brain works, then you will understand that eventually your mind will change to produce the necessary chemicals needed to keep this cycle perpetuated. Here is what I mean.

The brains job is to protect the body. The body hates being surprised. A callous is a good example of this. Rub a spot on your knee enough and you will eventually develop a callous to protect it. This is also why if you sleep with an alarm you will often wake up a minute or two before the buzzer sounds.

Depression and fear work in the same way. If you lack the self-control to protect yourself from negative thoughts and emotions, your body will do it for you. Before you can surprise your brain with a depressing or fearful thought, it will produce the chemicals to mask that emotion.

This is also why self-control over our thoughts and emotions is so crucial. It protects us and trains our minds to produce the makings of peace and joy as opposed to negative emotions. If you are not able to do this, then there are hosts of prescribed psychotropic drugs to do this for you.

1Pet. 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1Th. 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

This is also how the Devil shackles us in bondage to thoughts of envy, bitterness and a powerful array of other emotions. The Devil understands the laws of God and he leverages them for his purposes.

Can you see why the Bible exhorts believers to meditate on the word of God? Unlike the Devil’s thoughts, God’s word comes with God’s eternal power to heal and prosper. Imagine what your life would look like if you took on the mind of Christ? How would your brain and emotions react to that? You might even wake up before the thief creeps in that window again!

Rom. 8:6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

1Cor. 2:16b “But we have the mind of Christ.”