What Does the Bible Say about Discipline?

To spank, or not to spank? That’s a divided question. Every parent seems to have an opinion regarding the effectiveness – or harmfulness – of spanking a child as a form of discipline. What about using time-outs, or grounding? As parents, the questions and concerns we have about discipline come from a deep desire to raise our children up the very best way that we can. But there are so many thoughts, ideas, and options out there. How do we know what’s right?

A wise parent once said, “The Bible is the only parenting book you’ll ever need.” As parents, we can take comfort in the fact that we have a God-given parenting book right at our fingertips. But what does the Bible say about discipline?

The Bible addresses the parental desire to guide children in the way they should go. Here are some verses about discipline.

  • No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
  • A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. Proverbs 29:15
  • Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
  • Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

This list is not exhaustive, but it is clear that God gives us some pointers when it comes to disciplining our children. As the verse from Hebrews 12 points out, discipline is not fun – for either party involved. Yet, it produces a healthy result.

The same is true for anyone who strives to follow God’s law. It may not be easy at the time (obeying God’s commandments can feel annoying or unnecessary or overbearing). But God did not give us His instruction to keep us from having fun, but to keep us safe. We discipline our children to keep them safe. God knows what is best for us, and he knows what is best for our children. Thankfully, he graciously gives us some great advice on the subject of discipline so that we might do our best to raise our children up in the way they should go.

5 Ways to Pray with Kids

When we call on God’s name, he listens. And he is ready to answer. Even when we don’t know what to say next, he already knows how to help. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8).

Prayer is a powerful connection that we have with Jesus. We can talk to him – the Lord Almighty – whenever we want. And Jesus loves it when we do! Just as we enjoy catching up with friends, sharing a concern with our spouse, or giving praise to our kids, Jesus likes it when we converse with him, too.

Prayer is powerful. It’s important. It’s a large part of a faith-life. How do we make sure we are sharing the importance of prayer with our children? How can we, as families, make prayer a normal part of daily life?

There is no correct answer. But here are a few ideas.

1). Teach your family a new prayer.

Whether it’s refreshing your children on the Lord’s Prayer, making up your own family prayer, using Martin Luther’s morning or evening prayer (typed below), or using one from a devotional book, repetition is the key. Choose a time each day when your family will be together, and introduce the prayer. Then each day, say it again, helping your family say it along with you. Kids are quick learners. They’ll have it memorized in no time! And very likely, the words of your family prayer will stick with them for a very long time.

2). Pray for your child during some quiet time.

Our kids – even teens – appreciate it when we give them genuine attention. The next time you play a video game (or just watch) with your 3rd grader or ask your teen if you could treat him to some pizza, find some time to spend alone with your child. Ask to pray, just for him or her. It doesn’t have to be long or fancy – just thank Jesus for the gift of your child and ask Him to keep him or her in His care.

3). Use meal time.

Meal time is a great time of the day to thank Jesus for all he gives to us. Have your family say a common meal time prayer together, or go around the table and ask each of your children to thank Jesus for something. Or use this family time to lift up specific concerns or family issues. The sky is the limit!

4). Praise God during good times.

Enjoying a family weekend on the lake, heading to the cabin, taking a vacation, playing at a park, or laughing at your goofy dog are all healthy and happy family moments. Talk to Jesus during these happy times, too! Children will be glad to hear that Jesus likes it when we have fun. Even a simple “Jesus, thank you for our cabin” or “That was a great day at the beach! Thanks, God” can show our children just how important – and easy – it is to include Jesus during the good times, too.

5). Talk to God while in the car.

This might seem especially important before taking a long trip or before heading to a big event, but we can ask Jesus for safe travel wherever we go, and no matter how close or how far it is. Safety for our family is something we all strive for, so we can ask Jesus to keep us safe while en route, too.

These are just a few ways to incorporate prayer into family routines. The most important thing we can do is show our children how to pray, to pray with them, and to pray for them. Since Jesus promises to be with us all the time, we are not bound by limits! We can pray when we want, where we want, and for whatever is on our minds. Jesus listens. He cares. He loves families. And he is pleased when we talk to him.

 

Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray You to forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Perfect Parenting

Dear Parent,

How do you know if you’re getting it right? Everyone knows that parenting is tough, but no one seems to have all the answers.

We all hope that our children “turn out ok.” We hope they stay healthy, grow strong, do well in school, make wise life choices, and succeed in the work force. We want them to make friends and be liked and have fun. We want to see them gain confidence. We want them to be happy.

 

How can we make absolutely sure that our children will have the very best in life?

If some parent had found a concrete answer to that question, then the world would be full of inadvertently healthy, happy, genius, perfect children. But that’s just not the case. Life is not perfect; we are not perfect. And as beautiful and as seemingly innocent as they might be (sometimes), our children are not perfect, either.

So, unfortunately, the answer to that question is this: we cannot, in any way, make certain of a perfect life for our children. We will, of course, do our very best to make sure our kids are fed, clothed, cared for, schooled, and content. But we cannot guarantee them perfection. Life is imperfect: the result of a messed-up world.

But you know what? Jesus was perfect. Jesus is perfect. And he clothed us with perfection. When Jesus died, our imperfection (sin) died with him. And when he came back to life (take that, death!) he won for us a perfect life: a happy, satisfying, life-with-no-death, perfect life.

Life on this earth is messy. But life in heaven is absolutely perfect, and that life has been gifted to each of us, and to our precious children, by faithful Jesus.

As we parent, we can continue to do our best to provide for our children and help them thrive, knowing that the ultimate life awaits us.

Dear Parent,

Raising children is tough. It brings us joy and it brings frustration, too. Let’s keep working hard to give our very best. Jesus is faithful. Lean on Him. Perfection awaits!