I’m not above bribery.

This morning I woke up to find a note next to my computer:


When I wake up ask me about Psalm 23. I know it but I will forget to do it for you if you don’t remind me.”

I have three children, but the one who left this note didn’t need to sign it. He knows I know exactly who wrote it.

Yesterday at church, I was listening as the entire congregation said The Lord’s Prayer together. There is something the wells up deep within me when I hear all the voices in unison say “Our Father, Who art in Heaven..”

Among the predominantly low rumbling, I could hear one voice clearly. It was Ben, my 11 year old son.

In that moment, I was transported back to the time when Jordan (now 17) and Charlie (now 16) were in elementary school. We each memorized The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 and would recite it in the car on the way to school.

There are certain things you can only convince elementary school kids to do with you. This was one of them.

Ben is now in middle school. He was too little for the first round of Phillips’ memorization fun.

Sitting in church, I had a lightbulb moment.

I leaned over to Ben and whispered, “Hey, if you memorize Psalm 23, I’ll let you open a Christmas present early.”

His eyes lit up. He knows I don’t make that offer very often.

I can’t wait until he wakes up and in his bed-head rumply, gravely voice way says the words that soothe my heart so often. The ones that start with, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (NLT)”

So why resort to bribery? Why don’t I just let my kid choose for himself his own faith path?

Because I know the unlimited provision and power in those words. When we commit them to our mind, we commit them to our heart. They are tattooed there and can be referenced anytime we feel afraid or overwhelmed.

I know they have the power to release God’s army of angels to come and tend to us, because I’ve seen it happen.

I recited those words during every procedure I had to rid my body of cancer. I recite them now when my anger or sadness threaten to overwhelm me. Each time, I feel the angels surrounding me.

I didn’t ask Ben to memorize Psalm 23 for me, I asked him to do it for him. Why would I hold back the most valuable tool I can give my child for navigating life? I’m handing him a Sword to slay his inner enemies.

Since Ben doesn’t yet understand the immense power those words hold, I thought a little bribery might be a good way to get the conversation started.