Challenging Parents to Stand Up and Praise
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Parenting a house full of children on a daily basis can be quite the chaotic experience. Sometimes it’s very hard to find joy when you are running kids to soccer practice, helping them with homework they should have completed days ago, and refereeing fights between warring siblings. Adding to your frustration is knowing that you will repeat the entire process again tomorrow. Where is the joy in all of this?
Author Becky Harling believes that if parents intentionally praise God for just 20 minutes a day for one month they will experience new joy and a radically improved relationship with God.
I recently sat down with Harling to discuss her latest book, The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents, why praise is so powerful in raising children, and a few practical tips for infusing faith into a child’s life.
There are a ton of books out there on prayer but not so many on the topic of praise. What was the catalyst for writing The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents?
I realized that as a parent from raising four children who are now grown that I dealt with so much anxiety in parenting. I remember nights where I couldn’t sleep because I would think of things like what if I mess up their lives because of some crazy parenting tactic that I tried? What if I make the wrong decision? What if I’m too strict or too lenient? What if they don’t get into college? On and on it went. There is just so much worry and fear in parenting. Well into my parenting journey I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was facing a double mastectomy and my anxiety went off the charts. I started thinking that if I die I’m going to leave my husband with four kids. What will happen to their faith? I just had so many worries. And a friend of mine challenged me during that time to praise God intentionally for 20 minutes a day. I remember thinking that it was a bizarre idea. It didn’t feel authentic to me. She told me not to praise God for cancer. I’m asking you to praise God for who He is above the cancer. I figured I had nothing to lose. So, I started. And what I experienced in the first five days of praising God so radically hooked me on it that I continued. Praising God is not always a happy experience. Sometimes you are on your face before the Lord, weeping before Him and just saying, “I feel like my life is falling apart but I praise you, that Your Word tells me You are good, and I’m going to choose today to put my trust in that. I’m going to believe that.” So, all my anxiety about raising these kids; intentionally praising God was like the missing piece to my puzzle.
Why do you think prayer and praise are so powerful and effective in influencing your children?
Here’s the deal. God creates us to worship something or someone. We are going to worship someone. A lot of people ask me why God needs to be worshipped? Is He some insecure being who needs an “at a boy”? No, He invites us to worship Him because we become like who we worship. In our parenting this is critical because we want to be like Jesus to our kids. That’s our call. I don’t want to pass on my emotional baggage to my children. The more we praise God the more we become transformed into His image. He heals that emotional baggage in us. And then we become healthier parents to our children. We become more truthful, more honest, more loving, less anxious and fearful. We become more ready to release them to be who they need to be before God.
What is the essence of The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents?
I want parents to learn to praise God and to connect with God every day. The book is a brief 30-day devotional. And even the Mom who has three toddlers can do it because it is so easy. There is a verse that you read. There is an invitation that is written based on scripture. Then, there is a section called “Listen”. This is my favorite part of the book. There is some contemporary Christian music that readers can access from my website in my Free Resources area. Readers can listen to these songs at their leisure. Also, there is a prayer of praise that teaches people how to incorporate Scripture into praising God. It is very easy to utilize this book.
From your perspective, what’s the best way to infuse faith into your child’s life without them feeling like they are being beaten over the head with religion?
That is such a great question. My husband was a master of this. I haven’t done this yet but I always thought I should write a book called, “Blackmail, Bribery, and a Whole Lot of Prayer”. But here’s the thing, you have to preach less, listen more, and model better. If you do these three things you will likely have success. Preach less. Parents don’t need to talk all the time. Say less. Listen more. If you listen to your kids when they are little they are more likely to talk to you when they are teens. Model Jesus well. Jesus didn’t freak out when people asked Him questions. Sometimes as parents kids will challenge you and tell you that they don’t believe in something anymore that you hold so true. If you’re willing to discuss that with your children in even, measured tones they will ultimately respect you. Offer to explore the issue with your children rather than condemning them for it. Only give your children rules when they need them.
Can a parent intentionally praise God about their life when everything seems to be in the sewer? What are some practical steps to avoid this feeling?
You can definitely praise God when you’re in the tank or in the pit. Honestly, I don’t know if you can ever avoid the pit completely. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” We are not guaranteed that we will never suffer. That was a misconception I had about God. I remember thinking, God, you aren’t even behaving like the God I used to serve. However, only God knows what is best for you. You need to worship God for who He is. Yes, there are going to be days where you feel it is all tanking. There is utter chaos in your home. Or, where your own personal life is falling apart like mine did. You just need to hang onto God and praise Him with all you’ve got. He is God. He is Good. He does love you. Praise changes us. There is something in the heavenlies that I don’t quite understand but it brings victory for us.
I realize that every child is different but what is the most effective way to show your child love?
Tell them you love them over and over. You never want your kids to go to bed at night and think you don’t love them. There are some days when they will get in trouble like crazy but always tell them that you love them. Show them affection appropriately. Allow them to express their feelings. Kids need to understand that they can be mad at their parents but still love them and vice versa. You need your kids to understand that. Also, be sure to praise your children out in public to others. When you say you are proud of your child it really goes a long way in building their self-esteem.
As an author, what is your greatest hope for The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents?
I would like 100,000 people to take the 30-Day Praise Challenge in some form. I want this because I believe that when people intentionally start praising God revival is going to come. We desperately need a revival here in this country. That is my hope.
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