Spiritual Nurture is Needed
Obviously, a new baby needs food, shelter, safety, and lots of love. No one I know would argue that. What is not so obvious is the need for spiritual nurture: the nurture of their spirits.
In our busy goal-oriented world, a baby is seen as a project, a new responsibility. Rarely are babies seen as people. Many adults don’t truly interact with children until they are four or five years old and have some well-developed social skills.
What a pity!
Even in the womb, a baby is a human being with a spirit that hungers for spiritual contact and nurture. Just because these little ones have a lot of physical and social development ahead of them, doesn’t mean that they have no clue about the spirit realm. Au contraire!
Remember John the Baptist leaping for joy in his mother’s womb at Mary’s approach? Some commentators believe that John was baptized in the Holy Spirit at this point. Certainly something happened! The spirit of this unborn child recognized the presence of holiness and kicked up a storm.
So how do you nurture the spirit of your infant or unborn child?
It’s easy! But you need to be intentional and consistent for best results:
• Expose them to prayer, Scripture, worship music, lots of it! • Do your praying and Scripture reading aloud so baby can hear. • Play worship music as soft background, even through the night. Many fussy babies will sleep more soundly this way.
Parents are playing Baby Einstein videos for infants, confident that the children’s intelligence is being enhanced by the programming. Baby Einstein is good. I’m not knocking them. But, how much more benefit will those babies get from exposure to the things of the Kingdom as well? Encouraging the development of intelligence is a good thing. Encouraging spiritual development is even greater.
A selling point for the Baby Einstein videos is that you just buy them and stick them in a machine to play while you are busy with chores that never end.
Here are some CDs that you can put on to play that will bless and nourish your baby’s spirit.
Baby Blessings: Joy – Baby Blessings: Peace
The author, Arthur Burk, started by praying for babies in the womb: at risk pregnancies. He would call at a set time each week. Mama would put the phone on her tummy and Arthur would speak blessings to the child. As the requests for such ministry became more than he could fulfill, Arthur recorded the blessings to be available to all.
The original intent was to encourage those babies to live, to fight for life. And live, they did! As years have passed, it’s been interesting to see the characteristics of these children that set them apart. They are
• and sensitive to spiritual things.
I live with one of those children: my grandson, Frederick. He had Baby Blessings played for him before and for a couple of years after birth.
His first month was difficult. His jaw was displaced during a c-section, but not detected. For four weeks this little guy could hardly eat. He would start to yawn (I had always loved to watch a newborn yawn!) and scream for several minutes. As the days dragged by, his screaming led to a scrotal hernia (more pain).
One night as I walked Frederick and sang to him (He was singing, too, but a different tune.) the phone rang. Arthur had a quick question for me. Before he hung up, I said, “Arthur, you need to talk to Frederick.” I put the phone to Frederick’s ear and said, “Sweetie, this is Uncle Arthur.”
Frederick knew Arthur’s voice from several months of recordings, but I was not ready for what happened. Arthur spoke blessings to Frederick who immediately stopped screaming, straightened up like he was coming to attention, his head held high and his eyes large. He was intent and focused…silent! I’ve worked in child development. I knew that what I was seeing defied the textbook description of newborn behavior. Ten or fifteen minutes later Frederick drifted peacefully to sleep and stayed that way longer than usual.
By the end of the first month the jaw problem was identified, fixed, and life with Frederick became a bit more normal. You can read a detailed account of this in his mother’s book
Rebuild From Depression.
By the time Frederick was six months old, we realized that he was a Geiger counter for identifying places that were spiritually defiled. He went off like a siren and wanted nothing to do with them. At times this was unhandy: like when that place happened to be the restroom at the zoo.
On the other hand, he loved some old churches. We took him into the mission at San Louis Obispo where he kicked and waved and made his very loud sounds of delight. For being small, he was VERY loud. He did the same thing in a number of other churches. Not all of them!
As he learned to talk, Frederick spoke very comfortably about God and Jesus. It took us a while to figure out about Jesus because that sounded more like “Duduts”. He was playing dress-up one day and wanted me to robe him like Duduts. “Who?” “Duduts, God’s Son!” “Oh, right! Duduts it is.”
At three and a half Frederick was listening intently to some Christmas music when he asked me about this Baby all the shepherds were going to see. (He continues to love worship music, especially if there are children’s voices.) “Jesus”, I told him. A shocked look came over his face. “Jesus was a BABY!” “Yes, Honey, that’s how he started out here on earth after he left Heaven.” “Oh.” He was silent for sometime with that faraway look he gets when thinking deeply.
Just having turned five, Frederick is very comfortable with the idea that he was with God before he came here and when he dies, he will return to Heaven. We had some helium balloons for his birthday party. He asked me to draw faces and clothes on them. He gave them each a name. A day later the gas was waning, especially from one. Frederick handled it and the balloon went almost completely flat. “Looks like this one is on its way back to Heaven.” “Yes indeed, Frederick, I can see that.”
So this is Frederick who does seem to stand out from his peers, not just for his spiritual sensitivity, but for his independence, confidence, ability to focus and stay focused, sensitivity to others and their needs, a sense of justice way beyond his years.
His mother and I were burning brush this winter as part of the fuel reduction program in our mountains. Frederick was enjoying watching the process until he looked up and asked, “Is that smoke? Is it making the earth sick?” Amanda and I looked at each other. We now have to find another way to deal with our prunings. In the meantime, we hope Frederick does not call Al Gore to tattle on us.
Watching this little guy develop continues to be a delight. How much of who he is can be traced to
Baby Blessings? We are convinced that it is a significant part. That is why I’ve let you into this special part of our life. Get Baby Blessings
• for your own infant,
• for the infants of anyone who can hear the need for blessing
• especially for high risk pregnancies (Speak blessing and life over those little ones!),
• as a baby shower gift,
• to keep on hand for those unexpected situations where Baby Blessings will be the answer to the problem.
Blessing Prayers from Scripture: informative and motivational article
Book of Blessing Prayers: Blessing Your Spirit by Arthur Burk and Sylvia Gunter
The first time I thought about this question was on my flight from the MTC to the mission home in Florida. My older brother had just asked me something about this in a letter and as I sat pondering the question I was reminded once again that I had nothing insightful to say due to my total lack of life experience. Since then I have had a few occassions to bless babies yet I still wonder about this. What is a baby blessing for? In preparing for a baby blessing should I approach it like I do a healing blessing or is it different?
For blessings of healing, I generally try to prepare by thinking about the person I will be giving a blessing to. I try to think about their situation and imagine what kinds of challenges they are facing as well as what blessings I would want to give them if I were a loving Heavenly Father looking down. When I administer the blessing, I try to clear my mind to listen for inspiration. If nothing is coming, I have some boiler plate material on hand.
As I start talking, sometimes the inspiration comes. Quite often, I say something of my own making, but then the spirit comes in behind it and turns it into something more. Often, this kind of confirmation magnifies only a single sentence in the whole blessing. This sentence is the one I hang on to and exercise faith in after the blessing is over. I often wonder if the person receiving the blessing feels the same thing on the same phrases that stick out for me. For me, blessings of healing are ultimately about discovering and pronouncing the will of the Lord and pronouncing blessings that can become the focus and source of faith.
With baby blessings, it seems like something different is going on. There is certainly a boiler plate available and it is used extensively. Most baby blessings are a laundry list of milestones and good fortune we hope our babies experience in life. Good health, priesthood ordination, marriage in the temple with a “sweetheart” and so forth. I don’t sense (although I could be wrong) that there is the same searching for inspiration about what the baby should be blessed with. In fact, it seems to me that baby blessings have a very different cultural function than blessings of other kinds. I’ll admit that I am generally bored by baby blessings.
When preparing for a baby blessing, I often spend time pondering the kinds of things the baby may face in life, but I mostly spend time pondering what matters most to me in life. Baby blessings seem like a time we should express our hopes and dreams for our babies. For me this is done not by a list of events, but by highlighting the values and strengths that hope my children will aquire in life. Things like kindness and compassion. I told my last baby that the most important thing in life was for her to become a kind person. The fact that baby blessings are given in front of the congregation seems to change the nature of the experience. I think it leads to them being more prepared than other blessings. Because the whole congregation participates, they tend to revolve around the things we value and emphasize as a community (orthopraxy, marriage, family).
But really, I don’t know what function baby blessings should have. I wonder if I neglect the prophetic possibilities of baby blessings to much. Should I be trying to get the spirit of prophecy and make promises about the future? Are pronouncements in a baby blessing supposed to change the future and be the focus of faith in the way a blessing of healing tries to change what God will do for the person blessed? How many different categories of blessings are there? Is it wrong to prepare what you will say in a baby blessing beforehand?