Reading Time: 5 min 3 sec
Our children are growing up in a culture where likes and tweets are dictating their self-worth. We all want our children to grow up having a strong identity, knowing that they are lavishly loved by God and that His love for them is not based on their performance. Easier said than done, right?
Children at this time in their life, are concrete thinkers and learn primarily through experiences. So just telling them, “God loves you”, “You are one of a kind,” “God is with you”, though important, is only one half of the equation. They need to experience it. The truth needs to go from head knowledge to heart transformation.
I like how Catherine Stonehouse puts it in her book, Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey:
“When we focus on transmission approaches we often fail to give children opportunity to reflect on the questions that are important to them, to spend time listening to God and meeting God in the biblical story and in times of quiet.”
So how do we do that? How do we encourage an awareness of God’s overwhelming love in our children? I believe that Psalm 139:1-22 is one amazing resource when it comes to understanding who we truly are: beloved by God, a masterpiece, and adored. This excerpt from the chapter really strikes home lavish love of God toward us, His kids.
“You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139:14-16
Here are five suggestions of ways that you can interact with the text allowing space for God to speak to your child (and you). *
- Memorize Psalm 139:1-22
Pray through each section
Journal using Pictures and/or Words
Pray Blessing Over your Child
- Create a Song Expressing your Feelings to God
- Memorize Psalm 139:1-22
Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes a day
We want the truths found in this passage to be cemented into the hearts of our children. So that in moments of crisis, the Holy Spirit can bring these verses to the foreground of our children’s minds. I have found that this passage has become a part of our family story. It’s a common reference point that pops up in all types of conversations.
I split the passage into four sections using the natural text breaks as a guide. I would encourage you to take your time memorizing this passage.
An Optional Idea– before you start to memorize each section:
- Read the whole passage (Understand the big picture)
- Replace the word “I” with your child’s name (Ask how does that make you feel?)
- Be curious (I wonder_____?)
- Ask questions (What does that look like?)
2. Pray through Each Section
Estimated Time: 10-20 minutes (depending on age)
This activity forces us to slow down and spend intentional time soaking in God’s word. I have used this tool with both elementary through high school students and have seen God use it in a powerful way in their lives.
Take one of the four sections of scripture and use these tips to reflect on God’s word.
Read– The passage slowly 2x- Ask God to underline a word or phrase
Ask– What do the word (s) say to me?
Pray– and tell God your thoughts
Ponder– what is the Lord asking of me? How can I respond?
3. Journal Using Pictures and/or Words
Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes
Supplies: a. White Paper with no lines b. Markers or crayons (whatever you have on hand).
I love that even though you might not be an artist, anyone can pick up a pencil or markers and doodle. There are no rules. No expectations. Just spending time with Jesus.
I typically will read aloud the tips below to prepare the child for this activity. I will also let the child know that this art is between them and God. They can, but do not have to, show me the completed piece.
I will typically put on soft worship music in the background. I would also highly encourage you to participate with your child during this activity. You are modeling for your child that spending time with God is a high priority because God speaks to you, and it will help your child not to feel rushed.
Here are some Ideas:
Pray and invite God’s presence into this time. Ask him to speak to you through the passage.
Slowly read a section, or the entire passage aloud
Just sit in God’s presence. There is no rush. (This might feel weird at first, but just like anything else, it gets easier with time and practice.)
When you feel ready, draw or write whatever God has put on your heart.
When everyone is done, ask-
1.How did you feel about this activity?
2. Was it easy or hard for you? Why?
If they feel comfortable sharing their artwork:
Ask them to share with you what God spoke to them.
Ask them how that made them feel?
Finish by praying and thanking God for spending time with you today.
5. Pray Blessing over Your Child
Estimated Time: 2-5 minutes
Take each section and use that passage to pray a blessing over your child each day.
I would actually suggest praying the same blessing over your child for an extended period of time, only moving on to the next section when the Holy Spirit directs you. That repetition will allow your child to internalize the blessing, and for the Holy Spirit to cement it in their hearts.
“Thank You, God that you are never out of our sight. Thank You for lavishly loving ______, (insert your child’s name) that you know him/her so well that You know what he/she is going to say before he/she speaks one word. I pray a blessing over _________, that he/she will always know that he/she are seen, beloved, and never alone. We love You! Amen.”
6. Create a song expressing your feelings to God
Estimated Time: 15-20 minutes Supplies: White paper & a pen or crayons (or whatever you have on hand)
We couldn’t talk about Psalms without adding music to the list! I have done this exercise with students individually, and in groups up to high school with great success. I love how we get to cultivate the creative side of our brains in worship to God.
Read over a section or the entire passage as inspiration for your own song to God. I use the word create because with littles, instead of writing down a song, they could just sing it out spontaneously.
I love focusing specifically on verses 13-16 and watching children really light up as they read about how special, unique and loved they are by God. The songs that come out of it are so amazing.
I would encourage you to set aside your own expectations of what a “successful” activity looks like, and just dive in allowing the Holy Spirit to take control.
Even if you only get through half of the activity, you are modeling a life filled with Jesus.
*We read Psalm 139 in Message version because I found it easier for my children to grasp the language.
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What about you? What are your favorite ways to use scripture to build a strong identity for your child?
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If you try any of these activities, let us know! Leave a comment, and don’t forget to follo
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