Lastly, train them with continual prayer for a blessing on all you do.
Without the blessing of the Lord, your best efforts will do no good. He has the hearts of all men in His hands, and unless He touches the hearts of your children by His Spirit, you will wear yourself out for nothing. Therefore, water the seed you sow in their minds with unceasing prayer. The Lord is far more willing to hear than we are to pray; far more ready to give blessings than we are to ask them—and, oh, how He loves to be petitioned for our children. And I set this matter of prayer before you, as the capstone and seal of all you do. I believe the child of many prayers is seldom cast away.
Look upon your children as Jacob did on his; he tells Esau they are “the children God has graciously given your servant.” [Genesis 33:5] Look on them as Joseph did on his; he told his father, “They are the sons God has given me here,” [Genesis 48:9] Count them with the Psalmist to be “a heritage from the LORD. . . .a reward from Him.” [Psalm 127:3] And then ask the Lord, with a holy boldness, to be gracious and merciful to His own gifts. Note how Abraham intercedes for Ishmael, because he loved him, “And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” [Genesis 17:18] See how Manoah speaks to the angel about Samson, saying, “what is to be the rule for the boy’s life and work?” [Judges 13:12] Observe how tenderly Job cared for his children’s souls, “He would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular custom.” [Job 1:5] Parents, if you love your children, go and do likewise. You cannot name their names before the mercy-seat too often.
And now, friends, in conclusion, let me once more press on you the necessity and importance of using every single means in your power, if you would train children for heaven.
I well know that God is a sovereign God, and does everything according to the counsel of His own will. I know that Rehoboam was the son of Solomon, and Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, and that you do not always see godly parents having a godly offspring. But I also know that God is a God who works by means, and I am sure, that if you ignore the suggestions I have mentioned, then your children are not likely to turn out well.
Fathers and mothers, you may have your children baptized, and have them enrolled as members of the Church—you may send them to the best of schools, and give them Bibles, and fill them with head knowledge but if all this time there is no regular training at home, I tell you plainly, I fear it will go hard in the end with your children’s souls. Home is the place where habits are formed—home is the place where the foundations of character are laid—home gives the bias to our tastes and opinions. Be sure, I beg you, that there is careful training at home.
Fathers and mothers, I charge you solemnly before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, make every effort to train your children in the way they should go. I charge you not merely for the sake of your children’s souls; I charge you for the sake of your own future comfort and peace. Truly it is your best interest to do so. Truly your own happiness in great measure depends on it. Children have always been the bow from which the sharpest arrows have pierced man’s heart. Children have mixed the bitterest cups that man has ever had to drink. Children have caused the saddest tears that man has ever had to shed. Adam could tell you so; Jacob could tell you so; David could tell you so. There are no sorrows on earth like those which children have brought upon their parents. Oh! be careful, lest by your own neglect you should store up misery for yourself in your old age. Be careful, lest you weep under the ill-treatment of a thankless child, in the days when your eyes are weak, and your body is dying.
If you ever wish that your children would be the restorers of your life, and the nourishers of your old age—if you want them to have blessings and not curses—joys and not sorrows: if this is your wish, then remember my advice, train them while they are young, and in the right way.
And as for me, I will conclude by saying a prayer to God for all who listen to this sermon, that you may all be taught of God to feel the value of your own souls. This is one reason why baptism often is a mere form, and Christian training despised and disregarded. Too often parents are not concerned about themselves, and therefore they are not concerned about their children. They do not realize the tremendous difference between man’s natural state and the state of grace, and therefore they are content to leave their children alone.
Now may the Lord teach everyone of you, that sin is that abominable thing which God hates. Then, I know you will mourn over the sins of your children, and strive to get them off of the road to hell.
May the Lord teach everyone of you how precious Christ is, and what a mighty and complete work He has done for our salvation. Then, I feel confident you will use every means possible to bring your children to Jesus, that they may live through Him.
May the Lord teach everyone of you your need of the Holy Spirit, to renew, sanctify, and quicken your souls. Then, I feel sure that you will urge your children to pray without ceasing, and never rest till the Holy Spirit has come down into their hearts with power, and made them new creatures.
May the Lord grant this, and then will I have a good hope that you will indeed train your children well—train well for this life, and train well for the life to come; train well for earth, and train well for heaven; train them for God, train them for Christ, and train them for eternity. Amen.
By: J.C. Ryle