My Synagogue does a liturgy each week consisting of several prayers recited together as a congregation in Hebrew and English. When I first encountered this practice I thought of the vain repitions Yeshua warned against. But I did feel directed to be there so I did it because I was there and it was what they do. I continued to ponder about the teachings of Yeshua about prayer. After a month or two of pondering I concluded that if I mean what I say every time I say it, it isn't vain repition.
One prayer in particular we call, "The Shamah" always stood out as being particularly important, maybe because we face East for it, maybe because kids could enter or leave during the other prayers but not this one, or maybe because it seemed more readily applicable to my life right now. The prayer comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and part of it says, "And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you retire, and when you arise." And in an effort to be sincere in my prayers and not use vain repetition, I would reflect on how well I'd lived this commandment to teach my children. Most weeks we were in survival mode just getting through a week. Breaking up fights, feeding, and puting to bed seemed to take all my time and energy. I hardly did any teaching, if I did any at all. I would commit to do better at teaching my children over the next coming week. This went on for months week after week I'd do it all over again. I'd pray the Shamah and realize I hadn't taught my children a thing and think I'd try to do better in the coming week.
All the while at church no one ever spoke in a condemning manner of me or my parenting or my kids. They only spoke love and encouragment, while setting examples I could learn from. There was never a guilt inducing tone in talks or comments. After some time instead of vague commitments to teach my children I would think of a specific way I could fit in some teaching in the week, and I would make small improvments. I thought of a scripture I thought would help teach my kids something they needed to learn, and we would recite it together and discuss it while driving to various destinations.
Now after a year of reciting this prayer every week I've helped my daughter memorize a scripture and we discussed what it means and how we apply it. My boys didn't quite memorize it, but were familiar with it. They all told this scripture to the our Rabbi after church last Friday. On the way home during our conversation I came up with the next scripture I feel they should learn and apply, and something I could do to add a method of teaching. I wrote it out to put up on our wall so we could see it and learn while we sit in our house, as well as reciting in the car while we drive. And I've seen changes in my children for the better, some is likely just natural maturing over growing one year older, but I am a better mother than I was a year ago. And I can say the scriptures are being written in my heart and I am finally teaching them dilligently to my children, and seeing them start to be written in their hearts. The Shamah has made me a better mother than I was a year ago by Yeshua's grace to strengthen my weaknesses. Praise God!
What have you done to teach your children dilligently when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you retire, and when you arise? Prehaps an exchange of ideas can help us all be more dilligent than we are now.