Leaving a Spiritual Inheritance

Several years ago, one of our grandkids asked how old my grandmother was when she died. I think I said something like “old.” But I have never forgotten that question. It caused me to consider the brevity of life—the few years that mothers and grandmothers have to influence the hearts and souls of their children and grandchildren.

Yes, time is short. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that tomorrow is not promised. In reality, neither is today. Likewise, our Christian faith is not guaranteed to pass to the next generation.

Three Ways to Make Spiritual Investments

How then can we, as mothers and grandmothers, use today to invest spiritually in our children and grandchildren? Here are three possible ways:

1. Make prayer a regular part of your life.

John said, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

It’s mind-boggling to think we can release our hopes, dreams, and fears to the very One who made life itself. And we do that through prayer—communicating with God. 

Charles H. Spurgeon, a beloved nineteenth century preacher, said genuine prayer is not just a mental exercise or a vocal performance. “It is far deeper than that. It is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of heaven and earth.”

What if you aren’t exactly sure how to pray for your children or grandchildren? Here are a few ideas:

  • Pray God’s Word back to Him. For example, Psalm 143:10 says, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” 

    You could turn this verse into a prayer by saying something like: “God, I know many today do not love you. And that some may even be telling _________ to do things that don’t honor You. Teach _________ to make the right choices—ones that please you. May your Spirit guide _________ in such a way that their mind is level—focusing on Your will and wanting what You want.” 
  • Use some sort of prayer guide. I use the book While They Are Sleeping: 12 Character Traits for Moms to Pray. It gives specific verses to pray for character traits such as kindness, humility, teachability, obedience, purity . . . and endurance.

    Using this book has helped me set aside time each day to pray for each of my children and grandchildren—but there are many other ways to do this. The key is to find what works for you and to make this a part of your daily routine.
  • Dedicate a Bible to a particular child or children, and use it to guide your prayers for them for a year. When you read this Bible, think of your loved ones and ask God to apply particular verses to his or her life. For example, ask Him to lead them in Truth and teach them (Psalm 25:5). Pray they will have integrity and uprightness (Psalm 25:21), and will also stay away from bad company (1 Cor. 15:33).
  • Let your children and grandchildren know that you regularly pray for them. From time to time, send them an encouraging Bible verse through a text, email, or note. Ask how you can pray for them (and sometimes share one of your own prayer requests). Write down their requests, along with answered prayers. And periodically talk together about how God has intervened in your life and theirs. 

2. Tell your faith stories.

Have you told your children or grandchildren why you believe the Truths you hold dear? Do they know not only the names of their ancestors, but also some stories about their ancestors’ faith?

Many years ago a friend and I talked about passing down family stories. We were reminded of the exhortation in Psalm 78:4, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done” (NIV).

The Bible paraphrase The Message words Psalm 78:1–4 this way, “I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths, stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation—GOD’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done.” 

Yes, it is up to us to pass on our faith stories—especially those about God intervening in our lives and homes. Telling your faith stories does not need to be complicated. But how can you do it? Here are some ideas:

  • Talk about the difference your faith in God has made in your life. Do this while washing dishes together, taking a relaxing walk, or going on an afternoon drive.
  • Write in a journal about a time when you decided to follow the ways of Christ, struggled with an unanswered prayer, had to make a difficult choice regarding a friend, etc.
  • Pass on a story about how God intervened in your life. Jot it down on paper, use a tape player or digital recorder, or paint a picture that describes what happened.
  • Write reminders of God’s faithfulness on blank pages of your Bible or in its margins.

3. Live your faith.

My mother’s life was an example of faith, kindness, generosity, and unconditional love. She radiated a core belief in God and that “the sun will come out tomorrow.” A few of her favorite expressions were, “Things have a way of working out,” and “If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.” 

In many ways, my mother is still with me. Her days on this earth were a living example of God working for good, even in difficult circumstances (Rom. 8:28). Her life showed me that the way we live day-by-day matters more than what we say. 

Was Mom “perfect”? 

Far from it. 

Following Christ is a lifelong process. Now a grandmother of eight, I’m reminded every day of times when I rely on myself instead of Him. Be encouraged by the words of Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.” 

The way you live every day matters more than mere talk. Your children and grandchildren are watching. What do your words and actions say about your faith?

When My Grandmother Died

How old was my grandmother when she died? About seventy-three, and I am now in my late sixties. 

Life is short. We do not know what tomorrow will bring or even how many tomorrows God will give us. 

But we do know that we can invest in the lives of our children and grandchildren. And we can do that today.

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