Ask Your Preacher
I have two children who are into meth. I have been praying for them along with other family members. I don't understand why these prayers are not being answered. Is there a certain way I need to pray or ask? I'm new to this, and think I'm not asking in the right way.
I also feel like Satan is starting to attack my family and me for praying. Does this happen? I have no peace, and I'm afraid to go to sleep because of nightmares... but those could be from all the stress I have in my life.
If you can suggest any books to help me become stronger in my faith and learn to pray, I would greatly appreciate it; I'm too embarrassed to ask. Thank you for your time.
Mom Who's Trying
Dear Mom Who’s Trying,
God desires to answer our prayers, and He says that a righteous christian’s prayers do make a difference (Pr 15:29, Jas 5:16). However, when we pray about things, it isn’t as simple as we just get what we are asking for because God has multiple principles that He must keep in balance at all times.
If God simply forced people to become better people because you prayed for them, that would remove our freedom of choice. After all, He tells us that we reap what we sow in this life (Gal 6:7). We make certain choices that get us addicted to sin… we must make choices (often painful – like disclosing the sin) to remove the addiction. The fact that you are praying for your children is wonderful, but they are responsible for their own decisions, and God won’t force them to change if that isn’t what they want.
As far as books we would recommend, the best thing you can do is read your Bible – especially the Psalms – to get you through this time of grief. The Psalms are songs and prayers written by faithful people who sometimes suffered greatly. That is our number one recommendation to someone in your situation – read the Psalms. Otherwise, if you need help finding a congregation, we would be happy to help you find one.
Does God give us advice on how to correct our children, such as spanking? Today, society tells us to use time-outs instead... but that doesn't seem to always work.
Dear Tired Parent,
The Bible is very clear that spanking is an acceptable and effective method of training children. Pr 29:15 says that “the rod” and reproof give wisdom to a child. Pr 23:13 says that spanking a child will not kill them, so don’t withhold correction. Pr 22:15-16 says that all children need the rod of correction to drive foolishness from their hearts and that spanking them will help protect their soul.
The Bible never teaches that parents should abuse, torture, or hit their children out of anger or frustration, but it does teach that corporal punishment is part of a healthy parenting method. Part of nurturing our children up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord does involve punishment, and that includes spanking (Eph 6:4).
I have spoken with people who feel our job as christian parents is to homeschool our children. Are there verses in the Bible to support this idea?
Educate Me Please
Dear Educate Me Please,
There are lots of verses that say parents are responsible for the education of their children, but none of them say you must formally homeschool your children. Whether a child goes to a public, private, alternative, or home school, Mom and Dad are responsible for making sure their child is properly trained up (Pr 22:6). Many parents believe the only way they can properly train their children is to homeschool them. On the other hand, just as many parents feel that taking advantage of the opportunities provided by various education systems is a wise way to responsibly educate their children. The Bible doesn’t specifically tell us how to train our children; it just says it is our duty. We should be very wary about creating a law like “christians must homeschool their children” if God hasn’t made that law. If the Bible gives only the general command to train up our children, we shouldn’t go beyond what He wrote (1 Cor 4:6). Parents should use whatever tools they see fit to nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4).
I don't understand this scripture: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5 NIV)
Was I born a sinner? I thought all children were born sinless?
The NIV reading of that text sure sounds like David is saying that he was born in sin, but the NIV isn’t a word-for-word translation and takes liberty in translating that verse (read “What’s The Best Translation” for more details on Bible translations). Other translations, such as the New American Standard and New King James (much more literal translations), simply say “I was brought forth in iniquity.” (NKJV) This is a much more generic statement than saying David was born sinful. Ps 51:5 could mean one of two things:
- David was born sinful.
- David was born into a sinful world.
We need to look at other verses to see what the Bible teaches about babies being born in sin. The sum teachings of the Bible say that babies are born without sin, and babies are perfect in God’s sight (even David, the writer of Psalm 51, recognized that his dead child was going to be in heaven [2 Sam 12:23]). Sin is not a birthright; it is a choice (Gen 4:6-7, Jas 1:13-15). Humans sin when they choose to do wrong; they are not born in sin.
The false teaching of ‘original sin’ is very common in today’s society. If a congregation teaches that you are born in sin, they are false teachers. Sin is a choice we make in life (Isa 7:15-16), and all humans are born upright and good (Eccl 7:29).
What age is it when you know right from wrong and if you sin you go to hell?
Counting The Years
Dear Counting The Years,
The age of accountability is the age when a child becomes accountable to God for their sins and would be judged for them… exactly at what age that happens is the tricky part of your question. We can tell you what the Bible says on the subject, but it doesn’t say much.
We know any baby that dies goes to heaven. David’s son died, and David made it clear that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). Also, Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11). This tells us God doesn’t have the same expectation of a child’s behavior as He does of an adult’s. Children are not bound by the same rules as adults. A child doesn’t have the mental capacity or maturity to be held accountable for their mistakes like adults are.
In order to become a christian, there are several things God expects you to be capable of doing:
- Take responsibility for your sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for your own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
If a child is not capable of doing those things, they cannot be held accountable for their eternal future.
This still doesn’t answer the question though because every child matures at a different rate. Everyone agrees that a five-year-old can’t be held accountable, and that a twenty-year-old can. It is the age spectrum in between where our judgment gets fuzzy. Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), can accurately judge the hour in which a child makes that transition into accountability.