How To Raise Children For Christ: A Guide For Excellent Christian Parenting, by Andrew Murray
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I must freely consent that I am not a parent, and so to some extent I come to this book as a preparation for a difficult task rather than someone who has children and is looking for godly advice on rearing them. This has not stopped me from reading and reviewing books on parenting in the past , but I feel it needs to be said because the subject will likely have an urgency for many readers that it does not possess for me and I feel it necessary to state that at the outset. What this book does, and does very well, is present an extremely rigorous view of what God expects out of parents in order to raise godly children for His Kingdom, and it is expressed in such a way that induces the conscientious and sensitive parent to reflect on their own walk with God and the effects of their own lives and their own behaviors on the ability of their children to grow up as godly sons and daughters and commit to their own relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Few readers, whether they have their own children or not, will be able to read this book without feeling both a heavy challenge and duty of responsibility, but also a sense of reflection on their own upbringing.
This book adopts as its structure a very common form, specifically that of a devotional with 52 chapters. Each chapter is labeled under a day (although this is likely to be a weekly devotional given its format) with a title and a verse or short passage, along with a discussion of the given topic with a thoughtful exegesis of a biblical story and a closing prayer for parents (both fathers and mothers) as they reflect on the God-given duty of parenting. Devotionals are an extremely common format for contemporary writings, and there are many devotionals that have a similar format to that of Murray’s . What elevates Murray’s devotional above the norm is a set of qualities that any writer would do well to remember when writing on biblical topics. For one, he takes his subject very seriously–there is no doubt that Murray has done some soul searching on the failure of nominally Christian households to raise godly offspring obedient to God, and he takes the biblical stories and injunctions related to parenting very seriously. He also does not feel it necessary to cram his advice into extremely short discussions as is common, instead expanding out those reflections to the point where they are often the length of a serious blog entry. This book may be imagined as a late 19th or early 20th century example of a serious blogger with a weekly series on parenting over the course of a year–I would read that blog, and if you would read that blog as well, you will likely enjoy this book as well.
There is a lot to appreciate about this book. Murray shows himself aware of many of the delicate balances related to Christian parenting. There is the sense of great responsibility and duty for obedience to God, but also the recognition that love is to be shown and extended, and that parents are to be understanding and gentle towards the thoughtlessness of children so that they are not provoked to wrath even as they seek to guide children along the right way through their words and through their examples. Murray talks about some matters at length, including the need for parents to have their own relationships right with God, the way in which God’s blessings and promises were given to believer and to their households, and the way that fathers and mothers struggle with their own faith and their own behavior in the context of being loving parents and recognizing the ways that their own faults and weaknesses are often exhibited in their children’s behavior. Murray also includes, thoughtfully, a chapter on the widow’s children which ought to be a comfort to those women who are single women not by choice and worried that they cannot fulfill the biblical mandate as parents. This is a book that both comforts and challenges the reader, and on those grounds it ought to be of great value for contemporary Christian parents, and those who for one reason or another find it profitable and worthwhile to reflect upon biblical parenting.
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