Wednesday, August 5, 2009

His Mighty Warrior: A Treasure Map from Your King

If you are the parent of a small boy (ages 3-7, or thereabouts), buy him this sweet devotional book by Sheri Rose Shepherd. Children's prayer lives start early, and an age-appropriate two-way "conversation" that really speak to their hearts will enliven their devotion to God and encourage curiosity about spiritual matters.

My younger son (6) chose this book himself from hundreds on a bookstore shelf. Stefan selected "His Mighty Warrior: A Treasure Map from Your King", his prize for memorizing the most Scripture verses at AWANA, because it had a pirate map inside the front cover.

Stefan likes pirate-themed things.

More importantly, Stefan loves God - and it's clear from the very first "Letter" that Mrs. Shepherd does, too. The author has an unusual gift for "getting inside" a child's head and knowing how to impress spiritual truths upon their hearts. Sheri knows what makes children smile, what makes them hurt, and what makes them afraid - and wants them to know their Creator does, too. She has also authored "His Little Princess: Treasured Letters from Your King" for little girls (which I have not read).

Each day features a brief, one-paragraph "letter" to the little boy from God, with principles drawn entirely from Scripture. A related verse is included, as well as a 2-3 sentence responsorial prayer (which my boys love reciting in unison). Subjects addressed in the style of a father's tender rhetoric include being faithful in the little things, forgiveness, respecting parents, telling the truth, and handling anger in a God-honoring way. An entry entitled "Conquer Conflict" reads:
My Warrior,

Sometimes your greatest fight will be with your friends or family. I want you to remember that no one is perfect and that people will say things that hurt you or make you mad. When this happens, I want you to come to me and pray. I will heal your heart if you ask Me to, and I will give you the strength to forgive others. I know how hard it is to forgive those who have hurt you. But remember, my son, I always forgive you when you make mistakes. A warrior of mine does not let anyone stop him from being kind and strong in faith.


Your perfect King

The child's prayer then reads:

Dear Father in heaven,

Sometimes it is so hard to forgive my friends and family when they hurt me. So please help me, because I can't do it on my own.
In Jesus' name, amen.
Young kids have, in my experience, very short attention spans (especially boys!), so this devo cuts right to the chase. No need to mess around with babbling vain repetitions; our God appreciates clarity of thought and kids who get right to the point. Stefan unfailingly asks me to read to him from "His Mighty Warrior" when he's ready to go to bed, and if I forget a night, he's sure to remind me! He thinks about heaven as a very real place, and is beginning - thanks to quality juvenile literature like this - to think with an eternal perspective. Occasionally, the book prompts Stefan to ask intriguing questions, such as what types of toys there will be in heaven; but on the whole, it stokes his young heart with a growing desire to know his Heavenly Father better.

Interestingly enough, around the time we purchased the book, I was experiencing a bit of a dry season in my prayer life. Sometimes as adults, we make prayer into such a discipline that the joy and spontaneity we once knew is elusive. Trying to pray when I just don't know what to say is like trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the empty tube - it just isn't happening. While cleaning my son's room, I opened the book and found the messages and prayers in "His Mighty Warrior" speak to my adult heart, too.

"Dear God, thank you for not getting mad at me for how I feel. I like having a Father in heaven who understands my heart. When I feel angry help me to still do the right thing. In Jesus' name I pray, amen."

Nothing there about the intricacies of pre-millenial dispensationalism, or the mysteries of Calvinism.

Sheri Rose Shepherd is a former Mrs. United States who overcame an eating disorder, depression and a broken home before becoming a writer and founding "His Princess Ministries".

More recently, she has written "Preparing Him for the Other Woman", a book on raising boys to be godly men and leaders of their families.

"His Mighty Warrior" is, to date, the best publication of its kind that I have found for boys in the preschool - Grade 2 age bracket. Shepherd portrays God as the Father Who loves them and cares about what they care about. This book edifies young hearts and encourages them to develop intimacy, trust and reverential love for the King of Kings.

Besides, it has piracy-inspired artwork. Way cool.

1 comment:

Dani' El said...

Shalom Sister!

Praying all is well with you and yours.

Your brother in Messiah Yeshua.
Dani' El