Following the example of Jesus’ parents, Christian parents today also dedicate their children to God with a ceremony in the church. The pastor or minister presents the child to God and, together with the parents, prays for the child being dedicated and for the parents that they may be enabled to guide their child according to God’s will.
“...they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord” ().
When presenting their firstborn to God in the temple the Israelites were supposed to remember how the children had been saved from the plague in Egypt. Today when dedicating our children to the Lord we are also supposed to remember how God can save us and our children from sin and eternal death:
“So as each family in Israel brought the eldest son to the temple, they were to remember how the children had been saved from the plague, and how all might be saved from sin and eternal death. The child presented at the temple was taken in the arms of the priest, and held up before the altar. Thus it was solemnly dedicated to God. Then after it was given back to the mother, its name was written in the roll, or book, that contained the names of the first-born of Israel. So all who are saved by Christ's blood will have their names written in the book of life” (The Story of Jesus, p. 18).
By dedicating our children to God we make the commitment to—by God’s grace and with His help—do our best to give a good example and to instruct them to serve God with all their hearts; to serve God out of love, with pleasure because they understand His love and care for them:
“Parents, give your children to the Lord, and ever keep it before their minds that they belong to Him, that they are lambs of Christ's flock, watched over by the true Shepherd” (Pastoral Ministry, p. 167).
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” ().
When dedicating our children to God during the special dedication ceremony held in the church as well as in our daily worship and family prayer, we are entrusting them to the care of God, trusting that He will send His angels to protect our precious little ones according to His promise:
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” ().
“Before leaving the house for labor, all the family should be called together; and the father, or the mother in the father's absence, should plead fervently with God to keep them through the day. Come in humility, with a heart full of tenderness, and with a sense of the temptations and dangers before yourselves and your children; by faith bind them upon the altar, entreating for them the care of the Lord. Ministering angels will guard children who are thus dedicated to God” (Child Guidance, p. 519).
Dedicating a child to God is also an expression of gratitude to God for giving us the privilege of being entrusted with the wonderful task of nurturing and training a child to glorify God. By so doing we recognize that the child is a gift from God, entrusted to our care.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3).
There is a God in heaven and the light of His throne is available to faithful parents who dedicate their children to Him and work to train up their little ones to resist evil influences and be representatives of the Lord in this world.
When Jesus comes, may we be able to say by His grace: “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me ...” ().