For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:6-7, ESV, emphasis added)
True confession: I am a bit of a pyromaniac. I mean, not in the “illegally set fire to structures” type, but more the "I LOVE fire-- the bigger and hotter, the better” type. Put Another Log on the Fire could be my theme song.
However, when my kids were little, fire became scary. They apparently inherited “pyro” tendencies from me and could not seem to get close enough to the flame. Poking sticks in the fire and then writing on rocks with the blackened end was big-time fun.
For me, even as a fire-lover, sitting around a campfire with kids raised stress levels astronomically. I didn’t want to rush to the emergency room with a burn. I didn't want them to be harmed by carelessness.
As they grew older my fears changed. Still aching for physical safety, I also began to contemplate their spiritual lives, and I found myself shifting. SPIRITUALLY, I desired for them to BURN with love for their Savior. How could I raise them to be on fire for Jesus?
Fan The Flames
I just wasn’t sure how to raise warriors for the Kingdom who would not be a flash in the pan, but burn bright and long for the Lord.
So I pulled out James 1:5, my go-to verse at all moments of parental confusion (so, basically my daily verse.)
- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5 ESV, emphasis added)
After asking for wisdom, there were only two methods for encouraging my kids to spiritually light up that occurred to me.
- I was going to need to burn bright and long for Jesus myself.
- I was going to have to pray hard and long for my children.
Learning From Paul
Paul is a good example to me as a parent. He desired for his “son” Timothy to follow Jesus passionately and effectively. Besides teaching Timothy and giving him an example to follow, Paul also prayed for Timothy, often. In fact, as we discussed last week, he prayed CONSTANTLY. All the time. Every day and every night.
One of his instructions in Second Timothy has become a prayer for me. It starts in 2 Timothy 1:6 where Paul tells Timothy, "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (ESV)
Timothy may have already possessed his spiritual gift, but that did not mean it was in full functioning form. Tim needed to fan the flame of the gift God had given him. It required tending and effort if it was going to grow and flourish.
Maybe one reason Paul prayed for Tim ALL THE TIME was because he knew how easily Believers in Jesus grow weary and fall away from what God intended for them. We read his passionate exhortations to the Believers of the ancient world through his New Testament letters.
These early churches faced the same challenge we still do: How do we to remain on fire and not slide imperceptibly into lukewarm, namby-pamby religion?
Paul didn’t want Timothy to grow cold.
And I don’t want that to happen to my kids, either.
Using Paul's Instruction To Pray For My Kids
After exhorting Timothy to "fan the flames" of his spiritual gift, Paul explains why this would work.
- God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)
Timothy is to fan the flame of the Holy Spirit in his life, the Spirit of God, who is full of power, love and self-control.
This is the same Spirit which showed up in a bush to Moses. Burning bright, while never consuming the bush, it was a visible representation to Moses of the God who called him.
The Spirit also burned brightly as a pillar of fire, leading the Israelites through the desert for forty years on the the way to the Promised Land. It was visual evidence of His care and will.
And the fire of the Spirit appeared before Believer's heads in a room in Jerusalem. This flame was evidence that the Spirit indwelled them.
In the same way, I desire my kids to be so on fire for Jesus that it is visible to everyone they meet. So, I am using Paul’s words to Timothy as a guide for what I am praying for my children. Here is what I am praying.
1. Their spiritual gift would grow
a. Disclaimer: this is not the gift I HOPE my child has. Neither is it the one I wish I had. It is what God has placed in my child
b. I pray the gift God has given my child would burn bright and affect everyone they come in contact with and that it would be used to grow the Kingdom.
2. Their spirit of power would grow
a. I pray the power of Jesus would give them courage to speak when they are scared, strength to serve when they are tired, and perseverance to obey when they are tempted.
3. Their spirit of love would grow
a. I pray they would love what Jesus loves with a holy fire. I pray that love would extend to the most unloveable people that they come in contact with.
4. Their spirit of self-control would grow
a. I pray that they would have the self-control to avoid the spiritual pollution around them so their mind and heart would remain sound.
Protecting The Flame
We must be on our guard. The devices of an enemy who desires to douse the flame of the Lord are aimed right at us, Our kids may or may not care a whit about the danger they are in. Like my children dancing around the campfire, they may not realize that one misstep could seriously harm them.
As my kids grow, I can no longer direct the path of their lives. I am not responsible for every decision my children make. I cannot force them to live for Jesus, nor can I require them to fan the flame of the Spirit.
BUT I CAN PRAY!
I can pray long and hard that the Spirit of the Living God would fall afresh on my children's heart and that they would walk in His power, not their own.
I may not see the results of my prayers immediately, but that doesn't mean I should be discouraged. I picture each prayer as another log I am placing on the fire, or a bellows used to increase the flame in my kids' hearts.
I will pray for my kids to be ON FIRE for Jesus!
Hmmmm- maybe I should call this kind of prayer: Pyromaniac Prayer. What do you think?