I promised you guys I would be back to share more of my reading from Parenting is Heart Work from Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. I have to tell you I didn’t even get out of the introduction before I was challenged as a parent.
They begin to discuss Aaron, the head priest of Israel, and his priestly garb. Specifically, they reference Exodus 28:29.
Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord.
They tell the readers that there’s a special application in this verse for parents. We often say a child is getting on our nerves or “on our hair,” so instead, let’s try moving our children to our hearts. I had to look up several commentaries on this verse before I decided to share this with you guys because I didn’t want to get what I’m sharing next to be wrong.
The breastpiece that Aaron wore had a stone that represented each of the twelve tribes of Israel on it. The idea that he would have them on the breastpiece would symbolize his affection for them. Their names were carved into precious stones because the tribes were precious. He was going in to the Lord to make intercession for these people and he had a heart for them.
Alexander McLaren is quick to remind us in his exposition on this verse that the Bible is a picture book and Aaron’s care of his people is the same as Christ’s care for us. I just love this passage from McLaren so much that I’m going to quote it too.
Be that as it may, the thought is clear throughout all the Old Testament that the heart is the man, and the man is the heart. And so, if Jesus bears our names upon His heart, that does not express merely representation nor merely intercession, but it expresses also personal regard, individualising knowledge. For Aaron wore not one great jewel with ‘Israel’ written on it, but twelve little ones, with ‘Dan,’ ‘Benjamin,’ and ‘Ephraim,’ and all the rest of them, each on his own gem.
In the same way, if we have a heart for our children, we will go before the Lord to intercede for them. And, if you don’t have the heart for your children that you feel that you should, there is no better way to develop that heart than to spend time in prayer for your children. As Turansky and Miller say:
If you want your children to change their hearts, you must make praying for them a priority in your life.
And of course, if what McLaren says is true, then from a point of application, I can’t just pray for my children corporately. I have to pray for them individually, from my own personal knowledge of their needs, interests, strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know about you, but I have four children, so I spend a lot of my prayer time focused on them!!
As you pray for your children, your heart will be turned toward them, and you will be more sensitive to how God is working in their lives. God will reveal to you the direction you need to take with your children and things about your children that you haven’t seen before.
Turansky and Miller suggest that you might need a reminder to pray for your children. When I talked to my husband about this, he told me that he prayed for our children every morning, so he didn’t feel he needed a reminder. For me, even though I pray for our children corporately when I sit down to pray, and I pray for any special needs or issues that I might see in one during my morning and evening prayer time, I felt like I needed something to remind me to continue praying for each one individually throughout the day.
I received a charm necklace a couple of years ago from my parents. It has charms that are little boy and girl figurines, and each of them have little birthstones to symbolize the children’s birth months. For my purposes of remembering to stop and pray for my children, it’s perfect.
I might be making lunch plates, and I see my necklace. I stop and whisper a little prayer for my picky eater, that he might get all the nourishment he needs.
I might be trying to help a little one find socks because all the pairs I’ve found so far hurt his feet, and as I look down at my necklace I remember to stop and pray that we find one that isn’t painful for him.
I might hear my daughter worry aloud about the possibility of storms coming, and I look down to my necklace and remember to pray for God to soothe her worries and fears and for her to trust in God.
I might be disciplining my sweet little one, and she might be continuing in stubborn defiance. I look at my necklace and remember to pray for her heart to be turned to me and to the Lord.
From now on, I’m placing my children over my heart, and making loving intercession for them in the way that Aaron made intercession for Israel or in the way that Christ, our great High Priest has made intercession for us with the Father. I know that God will change their hearts as I pray, but even more importantly, as I pray for them, God is changing my heart toward them as well.