In the process of helping our children develop an intimate relationship with God and raising them to become world changers, the art of regularly reading the Bible and the purpose of that comes to light. I believe that for us to develop intimacy with Father God, Holy Spirit and Jesus, it takes more than reading the Bible, but it is an important part of the process. Reading the Bible regularly helps us know about God, who He is and His character, what He has done, answers to situations we may face, the faithfulness of God etc. (Other practices that I believe are important for developing intimacy with God are praying, talking with Him, listening to Him, sharing about Him with others, loving people we don’t necessarily associate with or like, helping the poor and vulnerable, etc)
In helping our children develop a devotional life, one of the overriding values is that it is about a relationship not a duty. To read the Bible everyday out of duty and to not take into consideration who God is and how the Bible applies to our life, seems pointless and counterproductive.
Below are some pointers I have found helpful with our children.
We cannot expect our children to do something that we are not doing ourselves. It needs to be an important part of our daily life. It also needs to be something that they see us do, rather than just hear about it. This single factor, alone, will determine greatly whether or not your children have a daily time of reading the Bible.
2. Age appropriate
This applies to our expectations of our children at various life stages plus also age appropriate reading materials. Start surrounding your child with picture Bibles at a very young age so that becomes the norm. As they grow older, obtain Bibles that are age appropriate. Several years ago our son, who was into Lego and Minecraft, wanted the Minecraft Bible for Christmas. We bought it for him. He found it interesting to read and look at, therefore it encouraged him to read it. Last week we had an opportunity to visit a Christian bookshop and both children (Princess age 14 and Matey aged 11) before they looked at any other books separately chose a Bible each that they wanted for Christmas. I was in another section and we hadn’t chatted about it but both of them found an age appropriate Bible that they really wanted. I was so, so tempted to say “But you already have a Bible” when I realised that if they were wanting a new Bible that they liked the look of, then why not buy it for them if they will read it.
3. Routine / habit / consistency / establish a pattern
Help your child by encouraging a regular time eg first thing in the morning, in bed at night, at the dinner table etc. Help them with being consistent. Start with joining with them and reading with them and then talking about what to write in their journal etc. Help them have a ‘prompt’ that reminds them to read the Bible.
Regularly chat about it with them and read the Bible together. Encourage them in the process. Share your Bible reading with them. Brainstorm answers to struggles. Maybe even have a season where every family member reads the same place in the Bible and you can share stuff together.
5. Teach them the names of the books of the Bible and how to use an adult Bible with chapters and verses.
It is always easier to use something if we know how to use it and our way around it. The same is true with the Bible. Once your children understand how and why the Bible was written, the two parts of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the books of the Bible, chapters and verses etc, it makes more sense. Memorising the names of the books of the Bible helps considerably with quickly looking up places in the Bible with ease.
6. Encourage them to use accessories
Bookmarks are invaluable, and a journal for writing what they have learnt & any questions they have & how it applies to their life that day, etc. Devotional aids can also be helpful eg Scripture Union age appropriate notes etc although neither myself or my children have ever really enjoyed using them. Other people love reading a verse from the Bible and then reading someone else’s thoughts on that verse and how it can apply to your life.
7. Apply to life
Deuteronomy 11:19 talks about God’s commandments and how we are to “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”. Incorporate God’s Word into everyday life. Share appropriately how you delight and struggle with it, and how it has applied to your day today.
8. Special occasions
For those special occasions in the Christian calendar eg Christmas and Easter, I gather a handful of books that bring the birth and death of Jesus alive and applicable to my children. Thus, they get an opportunity to hear and read the stories from the Bible in a story that is applicable to them and is told in different ways. For advent (the lead up to Christmas) there are a set of four adventure books told by four different ten year old children – one was from a shepherd family, one was with the wise men, one a servant girl etc. They are: “Jotham’s Journey”, “Bartholomew’s Passage”, “Tabitha’s Travels”, and “Ishtar’s Odyssey”. They tell the story of the birth of Jesus from a child’s point of view from a different outlook. “Amon’s Adventure” is about a 13 year old boy in Jerusalem whose father is falsely accused of a terrible crime and is about life in the week leading up to Jesus death.
9. Be creative
Learn memory verses that are applicable to your children and situations that they face. Sing songs that include bible verses so that when your children need to remember a certain verse for a situation they are facing, it comes back to them.
10. All of life is worship
My aim for my children is that they will be mature disciples of Christ. When I know what I am aiming for, it is easier to work towards it. Bible reading is only a part of that. Prayer, listening to God, meditating/soaking, service, worship, are all vitally important as well.
I would love to hear how you have helped your children grow in reading the Bible regularly. Please share with us by commenting below. Thanks.