Today we come to the third of our three goals:
That our children develop a lifetime habit of bible reading, prayer and church attendance
What are you modelling to your children in your own habits of bible reading, prayer and church attendance?
If we want our children to develop this habit, we have to teach them how to do it. I am not trying to make you feel guilty, we all find this hard. But we try and we show our kids that we keep trying.
- Form the habit – read the bible or a bible story to your child daily. Many people do this at bedtime.
- Have lots of story bibles appropriate for each age.
- When they are reading independently, they can move to a full bible, with a simpler translation (eg. NIrV or CEV). Although you might occasionally return to good explanation bibles (like the Jesus Storybook Bible or the Big Picture Story Bible) to ensure they are grasping overall themes and concepts.
- Have accurate bibles – do they miss out key parts? Do they present an accurate picture of the whole bible message? Do they include sin (Gen 3)? The promises to Abraham (Gen 12)? How do they deal with Jesus’ death and resurrection? Do they have anything about Acts and the early church, the Holy Spirit, Paul and the letters to the churches, or Revelation?
- Don’t be afraid to change a story bible as you read it aloud to match the real version (obviously this is harder to do with a competent reader sitting next to you!)
- Don’t be afraid to give up on a bible storybook when it’s not good enough (this is less important with toddlers, and much more important when they can read themselves)
- Check their understanding – especially when they are reading the bible themselves, make sure they understand it. Children are literal so parables can be hard to understand; they can get stuck in prophecy, etc.
- Use extra resources to help you (eg. devotional materials).
- Learn bible verses as a family (use songs; stick them up on the wall, etc)
Pray for your children and pray with your children.
Model that prayer is a normal, natural part of each day; we can turn to God first in all things.
When to pray? anytime!
- Before meals (grace)
- Pray for God to take away fears / bad dreams
- For special events – starting school or kindy, birthdays, etc.
- About issues – problems with friends, when people are sick, needing help to be kind
- Pray for emergency vehicles when they have their sirens on. (I got this idea from a friend –pray for the person in trouble, pray for the police or the doctors, and pray that they will all know that Jesus loves them).
How to pray?
- Pray from prayer diaries with pictures (make your own). Perhaps a column for each day, including family, friends & ministry/others. Let older children help design their prayer diaries and who they want to pray for.
- Write out prayers for readers to read out. (eg. with a thank you, sorry, please format)
- Pray with them teaching them how to pray informed and biblical prayers
- Let them learn how to pray aloud, but at the same time teach them more ways to pray
- Don’t worry if you are uncomfortable praying aloud. Children will think anything you do is right, and you will keep learning as you keep praying with them.
- Make it a family priority – a weekly commitment that is unmovable. It is more important than birthday parties, sport & family commitments.
- Have you ever explained to your children why you go to church?
- How would you explain it?
The next and final post in this series will be a list of resources to help you with ideas and suggestions.