Understanding how to disciple your children is so important. How do you partner with the Holy Spirit to train and disciple your children? The Bible has a lot to say about this subject.
It is our responsibility as parents to disciple our children and teach them to follow Christ. We can not leave them to discover the truth on their own. It must be taught. Children will not naturally come to the knowledge of the truth. Our job as parents is to guide them and facilitate a relationship with God for them until it becomes their own.
A disciple is a student, or a learner. There is a teacher and student involved. Someone who is committed to learning to be like their teacher is being discipled. Jesus commands us to make disciples of all the nations (or all ethnicities), and this definitely begins with our own children.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20
From this verse we see that we are commanded not to just convert our children to Christianity, but to make disciples of them. We do this by teaching them to observe all things the Lord has commanded us. This implies that we must first be disciples ourselves, and be under His authority.
As we disciple and train our children to follow Christ, Jesus promises to be with us.
…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matthew 28:20
In Greek, the word “lo” would better be translated, “And WOW, will I ever be with you- even to the end of the age!”
This is exciting! Jesus promises that as we commit to make disciples of our children, His powerful presence will be with us. He is partnered with us in this world changing assignment.
The Importance of Discipling Your Children
God places so much importance on the discipling of our children. Commands to teach our children His ways are all over the Bible. Look at what God says about Abraham.
For I have known Him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to Him. Genesis 18:19
You may think that teaching and discipling your children gets in the way of what God has spoken to you- the dreams in your heart- but this is far from true. This verse says that by Abraham discipling his children, it would enable God to bring to Abraham the promise He had spoken to him.
Don’t buy into the lie that children should learn spiritual things on their own. God commands us to teach our children what He has taught us.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
How to Raise Children Who Are Free
We all want to raise children who are free- free from the bondages of this world, free from the heaviness and cares of this world, free to be confident in who they were created to be, free to live a prosperous life.
Jesus said that those who continue in His Word would be his disciples, they would know the truth, and that truth would make them free. Notice- it’s the truth they know that makes them free.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31-32
We see from this verse that what makes a disciple is someone who continues in His Word.
How do we ensure that our children continue in the Word when they leave our nest? By making it their default, their normal way of thinking, and by modeling an esteem for the written word of God.
Just like adults, children need the baptism of the Holy Spirit in order to understand the Bible. The Holy Spirit comes to be our teacher and lead us into all truth.
As soon as your children receive salvation, they should also ask for the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Children need the power of the Holy Spirit- especially in today’s world!
Teach Your Children to Esteem The Bible
How do we esteem the written word of God in our homes? The first and obvious way is to read it, and make reading it a priority.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7
Notice that the first step in this verse is to have the words in your heart as a parent. Then, what is in your heart can be taught diligently to your children. As parents, we must always be putting the Word in our heart by reading it, listening to it, and speaking it.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8
As you are meditating on the Word, speaking it, and doing it, it will overflow into your children’s hearts. It will become natural to talk about the Word as you sit in your house, as you go places, as you lie down, and as you rise up because it will overflow out of our heart.
…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things… Matthew 12:34-35
Teaching our children to apply the Word and be doers of the Word is just as important as memorizing scripture. If we memorize a bunch of scriptures but don’t know how to apply them to our life, we are deceiving ourselves.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
Honoring the written Word of God is so important, and I see many people losing sight of this! The written Word of God should be rightly divided, and highly esteemed for what it is- inspired by God Himself.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
How to Model Being a Disciple
The age old saying “more is caught than taught” is so true. Children at a young age model everything their parents do. Even our gestures and mannerisms are imitated. If we want our children to become disciples, we ourselves must be disciples!
Do your children see you submitting to the Word of God? Do they see you studying the Word, praying, and seeking the Lord’s guidance? Do your children know that mom and dad are in submission to Jesus?
When faced with a trial, instead of completely sheltering your children from the circumstances, let them hear you praying about it. Let them watch you respond to situations by faith. Invite them into your times of worship.
Make sure your children know where you get your wisdom from, and how you apply God’s ways to your life. They will want to be just like you as they see you walk in the victory Jesus has obtained for us!
How to Teach Your Children to Guard Their Heart
The world is going to throw so many things at our children. We can shelter our children to an extent, but at the same time we need to teach them to guard their own hearts.
Teach your children to guard their hearts by immediately forgiving those who wrong them. Pray for those that they feel hatred toward. The purpose of forgiveness is for our own hearts to remain free.
Unforgiveness is like a trap that holds us back from moving forward. When we are offended, we are caught in a snare and cannot be released until we let go of the wrong done to us by forgiving. Teach your children that immediately forgiving people is for their own good. For more about forgiveness, read How to Know if You’ve Really Forgiven.
Another way to teach children to guard their heart is to teach them that if they see or hear something that makes them fearful, to shut it off. We do our best as parents to moderate what our kids watch and listen to, but we are not always going to be around. Children need to be taught that when they feel that icky feeling or feel scared, to immediately protect their heart by shutting it off.
Another way to teach children to guard their heart is to explain how when we do something wrong, our heart will start to condemn us- and it doesn’t feel good.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 1 John 3:21
There are always opportunities even as an adult to do wrong things in secret and think we got away with them. But our hearts know what we did and will start to condemn us. We lose our confidence and have a sense of guilt living within us.
Children can learn to follow that inner guidance and be led by it , even when parents aren’t around. Sometimes they may do things and not get caught, but that feeling of their heart condemning them is not fun to live with! It’s better to just do the right thing and have a clear conscience. As children build integrity, it will be a trustworthy guide that is always with them.
The integrity of the upright will guide them, Proverbs 11:3
How to Encourage Your Children to Listen to God
Children at a young age can hear and respond to the voice of God. Sometimes when my children ask me something about God, I say “why don’t you ask God yourself and let me know what He says”. When they bring back the answer they think they heard, I walk them through the process of discerning if that truly was the voice of God or not.
In order to do this, you need to know how to hear God yourself. If you are not confident in your ability to recognize the voice of God, practice and develop hearing God so that you can teach your children how to recognize His voice. You can’t teach what you don’t know for yourself!
Hearing God’s voice is exciting! It is your birthright as God’s child to walk and talk with Him all the time. If you are struggling with recognizing God’s voice, read 7 Ways the Holy Spirit Speaks to get you started. You do hear the voice of God! Jesus said that His sheep do hear His voice.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
Sometimes I ask my son “what does God want to tell mommy right now?” Then I listen to their response and help them recognize what God is speaking. Children have a beautiful way of not over complicating things.
It’s important to also teach your children how to know when it is not God speaking. God will never violate His Word. God will never tell them to do something dishonest or something that would hurt somebody. God is love, and He doesn’t speak things that are not in line with His nature and character.
How to Teach Children Who They Are in Christ
The enemy always comes after identity. If children don’t get their identity from their parents and ultimately from God, the world will surely give them one.
The enemy will take advantage of the absence of truth to establish his lies in the heart of children. Teach your children to speak out loud who they are- and to reject what’s not true about themselves.
Always speak in agreement with how God sees your children. Separate their behavior from who they really are. For example, little Johnny may get caught stealing- but that doesn’t mean he is a thief. Explain to Johnny that He is created to be a giver, not a taker. He is not acting in accordance with his real self. Little Sally may be telling lies- but she’s not a liar. Explain to her that she is a truth teller.
that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. Philemon 1:6
How to Teach Children How To Think Biblically
Our thoughts are so powerful. They create the perception through which we see the world and experience life. We can train our minds to think in agreement with God. This is how we are transformed.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
If children are not taught that they can choose what to think on, and choose to reject thoughts, the devil will have a heyday with them. Emotions are indicators as to what we are thinking about. If you children feel scared, ask them what they have been thinking about. If they feel angry, help them see they have been thinking about. This will help them learn to evaluate their thoughts.
Teach your children that what they think about matters. It matters so much, in fact, that the Bible tells us that as we think in our heart, so are we.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7
It is important for children to know that not all of their thoughts come from them. The devil can give them thoughts. Train you children to spot these lies and replace them with the truth by speaking the truth out loud. This is how we take thoughts captive.
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5
Train your children to look for the good in every situation. Some people see the negative in every situation and some people see the positive in every situation. We are supposed to fix our mind on what is lovely and true and worthy of praise at all times. It is the Phillipians 4:8 principle.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
Many times when my children are complaining, I will say “tell me something that is good right now, tell me something that is worthy of praise”. This trains their minds to switch from thinking about the negative to thinking about what is good. There is always something good to think on! There is always something to be thankful for. This will produce children who know how to train their mind.
The way your children think will determine if they live out their full potential (Romans 12:2). This is something that must be taught!
How to Teach Children To Talk Biblically
The Bible has so much to say about the way we talk. Proverbs alone is chocked full of scriptures about the power of words and how we are supposed to use our tongues. The Bible calls words that are not in agreement with God evil words.
Our tongues are designed to bless others and to partner with God in creation and dominion. We use our tongues to bless people and bless God. The power of life and death is in the tongue. We set the trajectory of our lives with our tongue, just as a rudder on a ship charts its course.
Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. James 3:4
Teach your children to speak what is true- what is in agreement with the word of God. Teach them to use their tongues to speak the plans of God on the earth and to bless others.
The Bible says blessing and cursing should not proceed out of the same mouth. Insert verse
Children should be taught that we never use our mouths to curse other people. What is cursing other people? It is speaking something about someone that God didn’t say. In our home, name calling is completely forbidden. We never use our tongues to curse people, only to bless.
It is important that children know that their tongue can get them in a world of trouble and lead them to places they don’t want to be.
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. James 3:6
Teach your children to use the power in their tongue for good. Teach them to speak only what they want, and only what God says.
…But the mouth of the upright will deliver them. Proverbs 12:6
Teach Children to Choose Wise Friends
Do not be deceived- if you do everything on this list to disciple your children and then do not teach them to choose wise friends, everything you taught could be in vain. Bad company will corrupt good character.
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
If you think your children are somehow exempt from this, you are mistaken. Children should learn to choose friends who are wise and walking according to the Word of God. This doesn’t mean we should reject and scorn those who are not doing this, but we should not be close friends with them. Our children should not be spending massive amounts of time with unbelievers.
People often quote that Jesus was friends with sinners, and this is true. But this means that he was friendly with sinners- not that He spent all His time with them. Jesus obeyed the word perfectly, including the commands to choose our friends wisely.
The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26
Before Jesus picked the twelve men that He would spend the most time with, He stayed up all night praying! I can imagine that He knew how serious this decision was.
Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Luke 6:12-13
Have your children write down a vision of who they want to be. Then explain that if this is who they want to be, then they need to surround themselves with people like this, or people who have the same goals.
Who children are friends with is absolutely critical to the choices they will make and the path they will take.
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20
How to Pray Over Your Children
We must stand alert in the spiritual realm and be on guard against the wiles of the devil for our children. We must declare the Word of God over our children and never back off. God has given us so many promises concerning our children for us to enforce.
The key to understand is that God has done the work, we must enforce His finished work on the earth. By no means do we just wait and see how our children will turn out. God has already told us how the seed of the righteous will turn out.
And all your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. Isaiah 54:13
The word peace in this verse is translated from the Hebrew word shalom which means peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. So, this is a promise from God that your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be their peace, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, harmony, welfare, and tranquility. Thank you Jesus!
Every promise the Lord gives is for us and our children. God is a generational God and always includes our children with us. And, God has said “Yes” to every promise!
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20
I created a free downloadable list of affirmation to speak over your children that will help you get started in praying God’s promises over your children!
Having troublesome children is under the curse, and Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). Set yourself in agreement with God concerning your children and never back off!