Reading Time: 4 min 39 sec
We know it is very important for the spiritual health of our kids (and US) to spend time with God every day. We know that the practices established today set the foundation for the rest of their lives.
We also know that quality time with Jesus is transformative
and affects every area of your child’s life.
But even with all of that knowledge, it can be easy when you have a long list of chores and activities filling up your schedule, or to let time with God slip into a get it done mentality just to cross it off the list.
So how do you encourage a love of scripture in your child that is focused on transformation, not information?
Here are five practical steps to experiencing God with your child.
- Set the Tone
- Read the Bible with Curiousity
- Use Silence & Questions
- Play & Recreate
- Prayer of Thanksgiving
This can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes or more with your child each day depending on their age.
Set the Tone
It is really hard (for children and parents alike) to really connect with God when you bring the craziness of the day (or hour) into your devotional time. I don’t know about you but I can’t jump from juggling kids, animals, sports, dinner, and to do lists right into spending time with Jesus.
At best, I will be giving him 50% of my attention, while trying not to balance my checkbook in my head.
If I struggle as an adult to focus, can you imagine how much more your children struggle?
I find that a couple of things help to set the tone for our devotions.
a. We try to meet with Jesus at roughly the same time each day. I have found that my children thrive when they know generally what to expect, and this rhythm seems to have worked really well for us over the last couple of years.
b. We begin by lighting a candle and praying. We use the candle as a visual reminder that God is with us and within us each day.
c. We invite God into our day and ask Him to remove the distractions, and to calm and prepare our hearts for this special time with Him.
d. We then finish the prayer with a couple moments of silence.
* We all take turns lighting the candle and praying each day (helps eliminate fighting, hence distractions and an irritated mom).
I know what it’s like to have preschoolers to middle schoolers making faces, hitting each other, and rolling all over the couch but I would encourage you to slowly, bit by bit, add silence into your time of worship. This silence (which can be hard won) is very important to teaching your child to be quiet and listen for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
What I find amazing is that after setting the expectations, and doing this for a period of time, the children will typically come to devotions ready to prepare their hearts to spend time with Jesus.*
PRO Tip: Let your child play with a fidget, (as long as they are listening and not being disruptive) if they have a hard time sitting still.
2. Read the Bible with Curiousity
Reading the Bible was not meant to be a passive, but rather, an interactive experience. A time when you are not just reading the Bible for information, but for a deeper discovery of your Father in Heaven, who is over the top in love with you.
1 John 4:7-8 says, “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love.”
When you and your child come to the Bible with curiosity and expectation, it begins an ongoing dialogue between you and the Holy Spirit.
When your child stops to wonder “Why? What if? That’s interesting?” you have stopped passively reading or trying to get it done, and have started interacting with the text.
When you take the time to sit and savor the word of God allowing it flow in and through you, it becomes comes transformative.
We recently transitioned to a different children’s version of the Bible. Even though we really enjoyed our old Bible (it’s totally dog-eared), this different perspective has inspired in my children (and me) such an expectancy, curiosity, and deep excitement to find out “what happens next”, that it fills us with joy and makes us look forward to tomorrows devotional time.
It might be helpful, especially in the younger years to try different versions of the Bible to find out what fits your family today.
I would encourage you to read each story or passage slowly and thoughtfully. Encourage your children to notice the little things, ask questions, and make connections.
3. Silence & Questions
After you finish reading the story, explain to you your child that you are going to have a time of silence to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to them through the story.
When I am intentional about creating pockets of silence, it gives my child permission to not rush through this experience but to take their time being present with the story.
I then ask open-ended questions such as, what was your favorite part of this story? Did anything catch your attention? How did you feel as you listened to the story? How would you feel if you were _______ (the main character)? How is God showing his love to his children in this story? Is this story similar to anything in your life?
The whole goal here is for the child to wrestle with the story allowing the Holy Spirit to take the bits and pieces from the story and apply it to their own life.
4. Play and Recreate
When time allows, give your child the opportunity to recreate the story. They can do this through a variety of ways such as: verbally, through song, drama, puppets, dolls, art, and the written word.
This will not only encourage their creativity, and reinforce the story, but it will also allow them to continue interacting with the text from another perspective.
It can be hilarious to hear the children reenacting Bible stories, you just never know what is going to come out of their mouths! J. My kids spent 3 full days looking for a sling shot after reading David and Goliath. I might save Jael and the tent peg story until they become adults!
5. Close with a Prayer of Thanksgiving
We close each devotional time with a brief prayer that includes thanking God for: His presence, His overwhelming love for us, and by asking Him to cement what He has done today in our hearts and minds.
Closing with prayer is huge because it refocuses our attention on God and sets the tone for the rest of our day.
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What about you? What are your favorite ways to spend time in the Bible with God each day?
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