Deuteronomy 6:5-7 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Everyday is a blessing with my children. Ages 12, 3, and 1 they are all learning new things daily. It is up to me and Daniel to help control what their eyes see, ears hear, and minds digest. They will learn fastest through what they do and observe you doing. We must choose carefully the words we use, our actions, the media we allow to be seen, and the places we go. One way we can influence them heavily is by bringing God into our homes. We should verbally praise God for the good things in our lives so that they will learn to praise Him too. We should point out the things that “God made” to younger children so they can see His power and glory. We should talk with our older children about God’s plan of salvation and how we can teach others about Him. We can also choose to bring Him into our homes through worship. We should pray, not just at meal times, but often. Thank God for the butterfly you see in the yard. Ask God to be with the homeless man on the street. Talk to God often. Let them hear you.
Daniel talking to Josiah about the tortoise that God made. Thank you God for tortoises!
Children are never too young to learn to worship. Even young babies can be sung to and listen for a short period of time. We have a devotional in our home each night. It is not always organized. It is not always long. Some nights it has consisted of some songs and a prayer, but it is enough to show our children the importance of praising God each day and making time for Him in their daily lives, no matter how busy.
As adults we often try to squeeze in Bible reading and prayer then quickly fall away from that habit when things get busy with ball practice, homework, work, housework, after school activities, etc. I have fallen into this trap of “too busy” before. After all, something has to give. There are only 24 hours in a day, right? We start strong reading our Bible then allow it to slip away as other things take it’s place. We replace the Importance of Bible reading with the Urgency of daily tasks. However I have consistently found that my days are always brighter and things flow better when I include God in my daily life with purpose. Our children observe this as well. They will copy our words and actions. You may have to read your Bible with hotwheels driving on the pages, but READ IT!
So, how can we fix this? Allow your child to see you in Bible study. Pray with your children, aloud. Talk to them about prayer and communicating with God so it is very natural for them. Just today Josiah fell off of a table outside and ran to me saying, “kiss it mommy!” I kissed it. He then said,”Maybe saying a prayer to God will help me feel better.” Already he is associating God with power and feeling good. We want our children to KNOW GOD not just know ABOUT God. If we ever try to “skip” devo after a really long day of travel or for some other reason, Josiah is quick to say sleepily, “but we forgot debo (devo).” They are keenly aware of what is important and what matters most in your eyes by your daily actions.
Now, back to devo. We have a daily devo. We usually do it after bathtime and right before bed. Our devotional is simple for the boys. We sing several children’s Bible songs, i.e. Jesus Loves Me, Fuzzy the Caterpillar, the Wiseman, This little Christian light, the Hippo song, etc. Then we read a Bible story book, flipchart, or use an online Bible story. We talk about the lesson and sing a song that is as close to the lesson as possible. We then say our prayer and it’s off to bed! For Abby, who is 12, we allow her to help with the “little kid” devo then either expound on that lesson with her after their devo is over or do something totally different and challenging for her. We recently studied King Og (check out Deut. 3 if you aren’t sure who he is.) I have to admit, doing 2 devos is challenging timewise, but with our age difference we kind of have to. Sometimes we sing devotional songs with Abby as well and we talk about prayer requests before praying.
There are many books out there that provide daily devotional ideas as well as websites. Apologetics Press has great resources like Discovery Magazine and Digger Doug videos! Kaio Publications also has a great set of family devotional books. We have used Bible Study Guide for All Ages as well and love it’s simplicity, reviews, and charts. Of course the Bible is your best and number one resource. Do some research if you feel you need a secondary guide.
Having given you the “run down” on how we do devos, let me give you some real life information. It is NEVER perfect. It is RARELY how we picture it. But they ALWAYS take something from it. Many times we spend time consoling an overtired toddler or “listen” a bazillion times. It does take parent effort, but so does cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc. My house is rarely clean when devo starts. We leave toys and dishes as are if necessary to have our devotional. If I waited until everything was finished, we would never begin!
Teaching them to know God is THE most important thing you can do for your child. You wouldn’t send them to bed with no food. Please don’t send your child to bed daily without spiritual food as well. It seems so important to take care of their physical needs that we forget the true importance lies with their spiritual needs. Afterall, we will all die someday regardless of the spectacular physical care we give. But, if you nourish your child spiritually they will have the best life possible for ALL ETERNITY! Isn’t that what we want for our children? Beyond education, trophies, and fun. I want my children to live in Heaven with God for all eternity. If your child is only getting spiritual food from Bible class once or twice a week, he/she is starving. Take them to Bible class. Allow them to sit in worship (ours can last 4 hours many times here in Tanzania!) Still, Josiah asks everyday, “Is it church day?” Please show them how to know and love God now so that it is an easy and natural part of their lives.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.