Helping Young Children Develop Their Own Relationship with God
It has been the desire of my husband and I to instill a habit in our children of spending time in the Word of God and prayer daily.
Their success in life depends on the level of trust in, knowledge of, and obedience to God, and we want them to get to know him in a personal way as soon as possible!
Before they could read, I would invite them to join me as I spent time in God's Word myself and I would read aloud to them.
Now that the older two can read, I want them to start spending personal time alone with God.
But the question I had was how to help them understand and apply what they were reading!
I started out by jotting down questions from the day's passage for them to answer. Then I found that I needed to explain certain words for them. Trying to get all this written down ahead of time for them was becoming time-consuming and I often didn't have it ready for them when a new day began and they were ready to start on their Bible reading.
I came across these little books by Character Concepts, though, and got a couple of them to try.
When I opened up the Proverbs People book I had bought, I was SO EXCITED to find that it was exactly what I had been trying to frantically put together for my kids each day — only it was even better!
I didn't want a children's devotional that was basically a cutesy story with a Bible verse to go with it. I wanted something that was based entirely on the Word of God but that helped my children understand what the Scripture meant and how to apply it to their lives.
This book basically does a study on several different topics found throughout Proverbs:
- Slothfulness vs. Diligence
- Liar vs. A Faithful Witness
- Wicked vs. Righteous
- The Five Fools
- The Prudent Man
- The Wise Man
Each section has enough passages of Scripture with accompanying questions to last for several days worth of Bible reading time for my kids.
At the end of each section is a short story to help them relate the principles of Scripture to the world in which they currently live.
Finally, there are application questions to really get them thinking about how their own lives are going to be affected through obeying (or failing to obey) the principles of Scripture.
This particular book says it's for ages 7-12. My son is 7 and shouldn't have any problems understanding or being able to complete the questions.
There is another similar book, Growing in Wisdom, that says it's for ages 8-13, but I think my 7-year-old will be fine with that one too.
My husband looked at it and said, “We should let the teens work through that!” (We work with the youth at our church.) I love that God's Word is relevant to every generation! The book would not be too babyish whatsoever for teens, other than maybe the little stories. (And they'd probably secretly enjoy those!)
Both Proverbs People and Growing and wisdom can be purchased on Amazon here.
Update, May 2017: Now that my children have worked through their Proverbs People devotionals, I have begun trying to help them decide what they should do next for their daily Bible reading. As much as I highly recommend the devotionals, they cannot be dependent on that forever. They need to learn how to open up God's Word and study out a passage for themselves. They need to work up from fill-in-the-blank questions to knowing how to ask the questions to themselves as they read.
I recently picked up this little study for kids called Developing a Quiet Time, which teaches kids exactly how to do that. It helps them to know what kinds of things they should be thinking about and asking themselves as they read the Bible.
I love that as we put emphasis on God's Word in our home, the kids pick up on that and begin to desire that personal relationship with God without being prompted.
There is no reason to wait to get started teaching your children to spend time in the Word of God! The sooner they get started, the more engrained the habit will become!