My oldest approached me a few days ago and asked if we could meet as a family every morning and have our “quiet times” together. For months now, he’s been trying to find a time and a place in his day to spend time with God. He and I started going to breakfast on Wednesday’s before school and I’ve been teaching him how to study the Bible using an inductive study method. But he wants more. He wants to be in the Bible every day and there isn’t much more that makes this momma’s heart sing.
Thought I certainly don’t have this parenting thing down, and I’m sure we have some tumultuous years ahead of us in these last 9 years we have as parents with kids in the house, we are beginning to see both the holes caused from our parenting failures as well as the good and sweet fruit of our labors. With the clarity of hindsight, I can now see how the Lord has faithfully led us to take several actions with our kids when it comes to the Bible. Here are five we’ve seen begin to bear beautiful fruit.
1. Model and Invite
I will never, ever forget the birthday when I woke up to balloons and notes in my “quiet time” chair. My kids knew that when I woke up, I would most likely head to that special spot, so if they wanted to surprise me first thing this was going to be the way to do it. In full disclosure, there are plenty of days that I don’t study my Bible, but by and large (enabled by a ton of God’s grace), I have made time in the Word a priority. I didn’t realize it at the time but this has been one of the most fruitful parenting actions I’ve taken.
Beyond modeling a desire for the Word through our own example, we need to invite them to do the same. It is really tempting to study behind closed (and locked) doors, especially when they were younger. It didn’t matter how early I got up for a few precious minutes of quiet reading, two of them in particular seemed to have a sense that mom was up. Lots of times this “intrusion” left me feeling desperate and frustrated. Most of the times I was just too tired to make them go back to bed, so I let them stay. Yet, looking back I can see the beauty in their early morning snuggles while I tried to not spill my coffee all over my Bible when they wiggled. Allowing them to stay was an invite for them to be a part of what mom was doing. After a while, I learned to have a picture Bible and some crayons and Bible activity books nearby so I could invite them into their own little quiet time to do alongside me.
Now that my kids are older (8, 11, and 13), spending time in the Word is something they think is a normal part of life. They don’t study everyday, but they desire to do so and that makes me one happy momma.
2. Upload and Have Fun
Beyond them seeing us enjoy our Bibles, we also need to lead them to study the Word for themselves. I cannot count how many times we (unsuccessfully) tried to have some sort of family devotion time that ended in kicking and screaming and me losing it in absolute frustration that my kids could not get with the program! Looking back, I can see that I was asking them to do something they were not developmentally ready for.
There was, however, something I was doing right all along: Scripture memory through songs. We’ve done a ton of it. Not knowing it, I was catering to their natural ability to upload and retain information. Little kids love repetition and song and we did a ton of that. Even though they are older now, we still listen to Scripture in the car, set to music.
Don’t forget to have fun with this! Our kids will take their cues from us. If we turn our noses up at a silly song, so will they eventually. Even with my older kids, they’ve learned to look past the silliness to see the value of uploading God’s Word into our hearts. I’m praying it all sticks somewhere in their hearts and minds, and I think it will. I can still remember much of what I memorized as a child, especially if it was set to music.
Here are several additional ways you can upload the basics of God and the Bible into your children.
- Teach them the books of the Bible
- Read the Bible to them
- Sing the doctrine-filled hymns together (especially if you don’t sing them at church)
- Send them to Sunday School (we use the Gospel Project which gives them the grammar of the biblical story)
- Hang Scripture art up around your house
3. Build the Habit and Invest in Their Spiritual Growth
This is huge! There is no way I can impart everything they need to know about God and the Bible while under my roof. And even if I did, it will mean little if they don’t choose to make it their own relationship, their own faith, their own pursuit. While I cannot chose for them, I can set them up for success by inviting them to make time with God part of their everyday lives through providing opportunities and tools to help them do so.
One way we do this is through our Christmas giving, which we center around the gold, frankincense, and myrrh gifts given to the Christ child. For frankincense (which was an oil used in worship) we gift them things that will help them connect with and worship God. Over the years, they’ve received such things as story Bibles, study Bibles, special pens, worship CDs, a quiet time basket, devotionals, special mugs, and Keurig hot chocolate pods which are reserved for when they have their God time. This year we are trying out the Brave Roots Boxes.
My hope and prayer is that as they see us invest in and prioritize their relationship with God, they will continue to do so—with both their time and their wallets—as they grow.
4. Discuss What You Are Learning
Chat about what you are learning in your own time in the Bible. Ask them what they’ve been reading. On Sunday mornings after church, either in the car or over lunch, I’ll periodically ask everyone what they learned about through the sermon or in Sunday School that day. (Which is another cool thing about the Gospel Project, since all age levels study the same verses). When I see or hear something that reminds me of last week’s sermon or Sunday School lesson, I’ll light up and see if they made the connection as well. When I see a verse that we’ve memorized around or a song on the radio with a similar theme, I’ll start (sometimes annoyingly) singing the memory verse to help them make the connection. Make it normal to talk about and enjoy the Word of God in your everyday life.
“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
5. Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More
Please don’t make this into a checklist to follow rigidly. These are simply actions that I have seen fruitful in my own family. There are no guarantees that they will grow to love the Word, but just as a plant needs the right environment to grow, so does a spiritual life. As we do the work to till the soil, water, fertilize, and pull the weeds, we must also pray for the Light of the World to illumine the hearts of our precious seedlings. Without His work in their hearts, our labor is in vain.
Lord, help us lead our children to your Word! Grant in us an overflowing love and desire to know you better through the Bible. Give us the grace to obey you in response. May our children see our examples and follow in our footsteps as we make your Word our treasure.
Want to see more from Katie? Check out her other LifeWay Voices posts: