All of us choose something to bow down and serve. In the Bible we read of images made of wood, gold, and stone, temples and sacrifices and priestesses. But even then, idolatry had more to do with the heart than exterior rituals. Colossians 3:5 sheds light on this idea when God says to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” When we find ourselves “greedy,” craving satisfaction for our hearts outside of God himself, we have created an idol.
Our kids need us to pray about who and what they worship. They see everyone chasing the ‘American Dream.’ So many of us pursue money, romance, two kids, and a dog, hoping to feel complete. Our children are told if they work hard in school and pursue a lucrative career, they’ll have all their hearts desire. We can chart a course starting in preschool to guarantee their academic success. All that work and worry doesn’t leave much room for God to lead their lives.
It’s hard to say what the idol of our kids’ hearts may become. Chances are it’ll be closely tied to their insecurities. If our daughter thinks she needs beauty to be happy and accepted, she’ll make an idol of clothes, makeup, exercise, and primping in the bathroom! If our son thinks athletic success brings significance, he’ll practice nonstop and be devastated if he loses a game. If our kids think attracting dates will prove their worth, they’ll flirt and even compromise their purity to hold their attention. Until our kids believe they’re completely accepted by God and can meet all their needs in him, they’ll never stop searching for peace.
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, the Israelites were tempted to run after idols when God didn’t show up how they wanted. When Moses went up the mountain to receive the ten commandments, the people wondered what was taking so long! By the time he came back they’d melted down their jewelry and made a golden calf. We need to pray for our kids to patiently wait on God to move in their lives. If our daughter is anxious for love, she’ll need help to find joy and contentment in singleness. If our son battles an illness or injury keeping him isolated and left out, it will take faith to wait for healing. When money runs out but expenses keep coming, only God can give rest while we wait for his provision. Our kids need faith that he’ll meet their needs in his way, in his perfect timing.
Sometimes we simply don’t want to accept God’s authority in our lives. As my children grow they crave more and more independence. They want freedom to choose their friends, their classes, and how they spend free time. When resisting our limits and advice, God’s ways stop looking attractive. They can believe the lie that he’s all about rules and wants to spoil their fun. When God says “no” or “wait” it’s because he loves them and knows what’s best. Just like we set boundaries to protect our precious children, God wants to protect them too. Let’s pray they will submit to the Lord. He’s able to supply humility and passion to follow him. They can take hold of the truth that freedom is found in obedience.
I know my kids are watching me to see who and what I worship. I have to ask myself some challenging questions:
Which blessings do I think I’m entitled to?
What do I believe makes me significant and valuable?
Who am I trying to impress the most?
When do I feel disappointed or sorry for myself?
Where do I look for security?
The answer to those questions tells me where my heart is. I need to seek the Lord all the time so his Spirit will reveal if anyone or anything is replacing God in my life.
I pray my family and yours will worship the Lord and him alone, all the days of our lives. May this be the cry of our hearts:
Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength,
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come before him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
(1 Chronicles 16:23-29)
Excerpted from A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter by Rob & Joanna Teigen.