On Parent Night, Debbie Frazier, head of Grammar School, gave a brief and profound speech on the beauty and power of prayer and Shalom. Her words are below:
This summer I did a Bible study on the armor of God from Eph. 6. When I got to verse 15 where Paul says, “having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace,” I realized that there was much about the Gospel of peace, as a part of our armor that I did not understand. I wondered why Paul chose to call it the Gospel of peace, vs. the Gospel of love or grace or any number of other words we might think of? So I spent some time studying that word- peace – in Scripture. In Eph. 6, Paul is actually alluding to an Old Testament verse – Isaiah 52: 7 -“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news.”
The Hebrew word for peace here is shalom. Shalom is such a beautiful word—and our English word “peace” does not do it justice. Shalom implies much more than an absence of strife, the general implication behind its root is of flourishing and fulfillment, of a state of wholeness and unity, of restored relationships. Shalom implies peace, prosperity, wellness, harmony, completeness, rest, and safety—to be made safe in mind and body, to be well, happy, friendly, to be made perfect, restored, just, made ready, quiet, whole. I was overwhelmed at all that peace encompasses—and at the same time, how little, even for Christians, peace rules in our world or even in our hearts. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, shalom and all its related words are among the most important theological words in the Old Testament –occurring over 250 times.
Of course, in the New Testament, peace is a predominant theme as well. It is the good news of the Gospel that brings us peace with God. While we were yet sinners, helpless, and enemies of God, Christ died to reconcile us and bring us peace with God.
Then, in the body of Christ, we are brought into peace with each other, walls of race or social standing or education, or even just personality differences are broken down –we are brought into fellowship and unity under His headship- even with those who may have been our enemies. And then there is the peace within, spoken about in Philippians 4:6-7, the peace that overrules our anxiety and passes all understanding.
So, as is my habit, every year I ask the Lord for a verse to pray for the year. My verse for this year is one I prayed for my children, and now for my grandchildren. It hung in their nursery and now hangs in my grandchildren’s—Isaiah 54:13—“And all Thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of Thy children.” This peace is the kind of well-being that only the Gospel brings– wholeness, fulfillment, rest, restoration, peace, and safety.
This shalom is not something that we can muster for ourselves or produce in our children; it is a result of God’s activity in our lives. This kind of peace only comes from God and is the gift of God. Isn’t that what we want for our children? We can’t provide it for them by protecting them in a bubble, by making sure all their needs are met, by surrounding them in comfort and good things or by orchestrating their lives to carve out a path of ease for them. As a matter of fact, overdoing those things may be a hindrance to their understanding of the Gospel. This world is full of trouble, trouble that brings us to the cross and the Gospel. As Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” Just watch the news, or pay attention to what this culture dishes out to our children- the lies that it leads them to pursue .., and on top of that, they have often the worst trouble inside.
This summer, the faculty and staff were clearly reminded in our Culture of Grace series, our own worst enemy is the sin that resides in each of us; our children need to be delivered from themselves. And, of course, Satan himself is the enemy of our souls, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy shalom by any means he can.
So what’s the good news? What are we as parents and educators to do? First, we teach our children the Gospel, the good news of peace and shalom in Christ that overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil. Deuteronomy 6 tells us how we do it –”we teach them when we rise up and when we sit down, when we walk along the way” (or ride in carpool) —wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we connect the Gospel to their daily lives—when they encounter trouble and sin, when we experience the brokenness of this world, and when we sin and model repentance in front of them. It is our only hope and peace. Likely, that is one of the main reasons you chose this school for your children, so that they would be taught of the Lord in every class and every circumstance of the school day.
So we teach, and then we pray, for God to do in their hearts and lives what only He can do.
On the image below, I have Isaiah 54:13. You can cut it out and put it on your fridge or mirror or dashboard to remind you of this. Underneath it, I have included some specific blessings of peace that you can pray for and over your children. What do I mean by “over?” I would encourage you to pray these things aloud over your children- you can pray them as blessings at night before they go to sleep, at the breakfast or dinner table, in the morning as you let them out at carpool, in the midst of strife or stress in your home, which we all know is pretty normal.
And, of course, you can pray them all during the day when your children are away from you, when you are aware of whatever struggles in their lives are robbing them of the peace of Christ. You can choose one per quarter, semester, or even for the year. My pastor chooses a benediction to pray over us every week for a year. You may remember certain pastors in your life by the benedictions they routinely prayed. A friend’s husband prayed this first one blessing from Numbers over his children every night—I wish she had told me that before my kids were grown. But you can pray one every day, multiple times a day. If you say them, or even sing them, often enough, they are words you and your children will never forget. And most importantly, words God hears, and He answers. Did you know that in every single letter Paul wrote in the New Testament, he begins with the blessing of “Grace and peace to you.” Together, let’s make this a year of teaching the Gospel of peace and praying shalom over our homes, our school, and our children. It is our privilege to partner with you in this!