The Lord has impressed upon me the need to be pouring Scripture into my children while they are young. One tool that I have used to accomplish this is a daily Bible Time. I struggled at first to know what to do with my young children since they don’t understand a lot of Bible terms, and they get the “wiggles” pretty quickly. Through suggestions of godly older ladies, and some trial & error, I have put together three elements to make Bible Time fun and successful.
I have four children ages four and under, so our Bible Time isn’t always daily, though that is the goal. And it usually isn’t at the same time every day, because we have to flex our schedule around the ever changing needs & schedules of twin babies. To accommodate this, I put my Bible Time items together in a basket near the couch so that it is always easily accessible whenever we have a few minutes to sit down together to read, sing, and pray.
Just as in a corporate worship service, I believe that the key ingredients of devotions or Bible Time with our children are reading God’s Word, praising God through song, and bringing our requests to God through prayer.
Reading God’s Word
Be careful in selecting a children’s Bible. Many have quite diluted the Word of God. Others have introduced many inaccuracies or changed God’s Word in order to make it “child friendly.” The Egermeier's Bible Story Book was suggested to me, and we love it! It goes through the Bible in order, but divides the stories/chapters into kid-friendly portions. Though written in story form, it follows the Scripture carefully and closely. And the pictures are very beautiful!
Right now we are reading through it in order from Genesis, but we have also picked stories to correlate with a “letter of the week”. (Lazarus, Lot, and Salt & Light for the letter L are some examples). I read one section to the children. Often they are riveted and ask me to continue reading, but sometimes they are squirmy and so we end with just one story.
My children love to sing! And though they have favorite songs, they are eager to learn new ones also. I have been trying to introduce them to a couple of new songs per month. I often visualize the songs by printing the lyrics and adding clipart in Microsoft Word. Sometimes I print out the words and we color the pictures together for a craft project. (I like to laminate them to make them more durable). Even though my kids can’t read yet, the pictures help them follow along as they learn the song. We also sprinkle in some songs that have hand motions, which is very helpful if they kids are squirmy.
My kids get a good dose of children’s Bible songs at church. We sing their favorites and teach them new ones too. I also want them to learn the good old hymns, which are so rich in doctrine and Scripture. We take it slow when learning these new songs to be sure they understand. After we sing the song, I discuss the words and the meaning with them. Through this repetition they come to understand what the song means.
For example, Nolan loves to sing “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.” Our visual folds out into the shape of a cross. After we sing I ask them questions like, “What shape is this?” “Why is it a cross?” “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” “What is the only way we can be clean from our sins?” “What is sin?”
We have three different approaches to praying with our kids. We mix them up based on the time and their attention span that day. Sometimes I ask them to share one blessing and one prayer request, and then we pray for those things.
Another way to guide prayer time is to pray for missionaries. We have a basket of prayer cards, and my kids love to pick out a card and pray for that missionary. This teaches them to be concerned with the needs of people around the world. It also helps them put a face to people we are praying for regularly. When a missionary was badly burned in an accident, we showed the kids his picture to help them make associations as we prayed for his recovery. And they each have a favorite card they dig through the basket to find!
The last tool we use is a jar of “prayer sticks.” We wrote blessings and special people on popsicle sticks. We let the kids pick a couple of sticks out at prayer time, and that is the blessing/request for which they are to pray. Some examples are people with chronic illness, family members (we have all of our grandparents on sticks), and people in need of salvation. Some examples of blessing are friends, books & toys, health, etc.
Do you have a daily Bible Time with your children? So often they are a thirsty sponge, absorbing everything they encounter. It’s important, and a great opportunity, to “fill them up” with the things of God! What have you found to be the best way to have a devotional time with young children?
As I sat in my room this morning during my quiet time, I noticed out the window a cat strolling casually across the yard.
Suddenly a bird swooped down, attacking the cat.
For a split-second, I was incredulous. A bird? Attacking a cat?
But I quickly realized that this bird was not attacking a cat because she thought she was bigger and badder than the cat. She was a mama bird, and she had baby birds nearby. Even though the cat didn’t seem to be seeking his breakfast, he was still close enough to the location of the baby birds to cause their mama plenty of concern.
Although a bird is no match for a cat, she was willing to put her life on the line for the protection of her babies. She swooped down over and over until she had driven the cat far away from her home. Then she flew high into a tree and waited until the cat was completely out of sight before she flew back to her nest. She didn’t want to chance having the cat know where her babies were located.
Mamas, there is another member of the feline family just waiting for his chance to destroy your children. He is the devil, and like a lion, he walks about seeking whom he may devour.
What are you going to do to protect those children of yours?
You need to recognize the various ways that he will try to attack them and eliminate his opportunity to do so.
I’ll give a few examples, but you as a parent need to be diligent to think through the circumstances of your own child’s life and pinpoint all of the areas that need to be protected.
God let us know for a reason that “evil communications corrupt good manners”. The people your child associates with on a regular basis are one of the biggest influences he has. Do you know who your child’s friends are? Do you know what they believe and what they talk about to your children? If you are not aware of these things, you are leaving your child in a very vulnerable position. The devil has the opportunity to use those friends to influence his thinking in ways that could completely undermine everything you are trying to teach him at home.
One of the most powerful influences on the mind of your child is the media that filters through his eyes and ears. The tv shows, movies, books, video games, and music that he is exposed to are not a neutral force. They are either drawing him closer to God or driving him away. Examine closely what goes into your child’s mind, and do everything you can to protect him from anything that contradicts God’s Word. Even if you become the world’s most “uncool” mom, saying no to these things is worth every minute of your unpopularity. I’d rather be uncool than to lose my child’s soul to the devil.
We are all born with a burning desire to sin, and even after salvation that sin nature still rears its ugly head, tempting us when we least expect it. You may be doing all you know to do to protect your child from evil influences, but his greatest and most subtle enemy lies within himself. Just as those baby birds will one day leave the nest and be responsible for protecting themselves, your children will gradually become more and more independent. You won’t always be right beside them, swooping down and chasing away the devil when he comes too close. Give them the tools to protect themselves when they’re on their own! Teach them the Word of God. Engrain it into their minds and hearts. Instruct them about the armor of God which they possess if they are a child of God and teach them how to use it! Pray for your children every day. Pray for their protection from temptation and that God would help them to remember the things you have taught them about resisting the devil.
That mama bird would have been devastated had the cat gained access to her babies and taken the opportunity to injure or kill any of them. Can you imagine the grief that you will feel if your child falls prey to the devil?
To the mother bird, it was worth risking her very life for her children to be protected. What will you risk? How hard will you work? How unpopular are you willing to be?
It’s worth it all.
One thing I really want to do better with is being intentional in my mothering. I want to plan ahead more to spend time with the kids. Sure, there is a place for spontaneous time together, but that honestly doesn't happen very often. There are always dishes to wash, clothes to fold, and floors to sweep. The work is never ending, and the time to spend with these little ones doesn't often just happen by accident.
I decided that since I'm all about Anti-Procrastination this year, that I was going to purposely make time to spend with the kids today. Instead of waiting until everything magically fell into place (which it never would), I purposely cleared my schedule and gave my undivided attention to them.
And guess what? I think I had more fun than they did! Granted, I'll need to stay up a little longer tonight and finish folding the laundry, but what is more important? Claiming my children's hearts as they grow up right before my eyes, or folding the laundry that will always be there?
What about you? Is there something about which you need to purposely be more intentional? Maybe it's not your kids; maybe it's being a better wife, a better nieghbor, church member, or friend. It's time to stop planning to do better and just do it!
Have you been challenged to be more intentional about a certain area of your life? Leave a comment and tell me about it!