As a little girl, my Mom encouraged me and my sisters to daily read the Bible and pray as well as keep a prayer journal. Actually, she set aside a certain amount of time that we were expected to do this when we were elementary-school-age. I balked at the notion at first, and then later grew to crave that time with the Lord and to choose to do it of my own free will without any prodding. This habit has stayed with me into my teenage years and now into my adult life. Children learn by example. Children want direction. Children need to be guided; they will not naturally "evolve" into a Bible-loving Christian--they need to be led. This is why we are figuratively "shepherds" of our children. Watching my Mom's example and being required as a child to have a daily Quiet Time with the Lord, helped me to be disciplined as an adult to keep this sacred time with the Lord consistently. I watched a Mom who was full of joy in the Lord's presence and I wanted the joy that I saw in her. This yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness in my life as the Lord worked in that desire to bring grace through His Word, through prayer and through the memorization of Scripture.
We need to lead our children in this area; I cannot stress it enough (Deuteronomy 11:19-21). It is of vital importance. Children are only little once. We have one opportunity with them; we have a responsibility before the Lord. Lay tiredness, lack of motivation, lack of desire, or even the perceived lack of time aside and do this. You will be glad that you did and not have any regrets.
When my two children were little babies (they are age 3 1/2 and 5 now), I held them on the floor in the morning and read from the Bible to them. I sang a hymn to them and prayed. We did this consistently every morning at around the same time each day. A few years ago, I noticed that my daughter knew phrases from many, many hymns. This was a gift to me from the Lord to encourage me to continue to have this daily time with my children. We have continued the same practice over the past few years, with my children participating more and more in our daily Quiet Time. Sometimes we read from a children's Bible, sometimes I include a devotional and then we sing a hymn and pray together. We work on memorizing Scripture verses. At night, after dinner, I've begun to read from the regular Bible and to sing a hymn after we've eaten. I have tried to be very consistent with this by the grace of God and my children have come to expect it and to love the Bible stories.
Something that I think is so very important as a parent is to gently enforce schedules, rules, and expectations--it is something that I am learning and growing in as a parent and that the Lord is teaching me in my life with my children. If I do not guide and lead my child, who will? And of course this needs to be done in a loving, Christ-like way--never in an authoritative "You WILL read your Bible" attitude. Because that will drive your children away from the Lord and cause them to resent the Bible. They need to watch from example. It is important that they see you reading your Bible, not only studying it, but reading it because you love to read His Word. It is important that they see you on your knees, humbling yourself before the Lord. It is important for them to see you bring your worries and problems and needs before the throne of grace. Lead by example; lead from a sincere desire for them to become godly adults who love His Word--not just because you want "good kids"; if you don't feel this way, pray that the Lord would give you that desire in this area. I promise you; it will have a profound impact upon your children.
As children grow older you may encourage them to have their own Quiet Time. Set a timer (I love timers--and so do kids, even if they think they don't! ;-)) Give them a special prayer journal. Make sure that they have their own Bible that they can carefully outline and keep on their desk or by their bedside. Be consistent. Keep a schedule and follow it diligently, as well as you are able by the grace of God. Don't allow the cares and distractions of this life to keep you and your children from this practice. Years from now, you will be so glad that you encouraged and practiced a daily Quiet Time with the Lord.
And if you don't have a daily Quiet Time or are not consistent, begin now! The Lord will reward you; the Lord will bless your obedience. It is never to late to begin--the Lord is able to redeem all things. Make Him first and He will honor you and bless your family and use you as a blessing to others (I Samuel 2:30).
Below are some resources that have encouraged me and my children in our daily walk with the Lord and with having a daily Quiet Time. I would also encourage you to purchase or acquire a good hymnal--many times churches will be happy to give your family one if you ask. I have found hymnals and devotionals in local thrift stores as well for an extremely low cost. Seek and you will find! :-)
The following are a few devotionals from authors that have blessed our family and that I would recommend highly:
God's Good News: A Bible Storybook, by Billy Graham
The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, by Kenneth N. Taylor
Big Thoughts for Little People, by Kenneth N. Taylor
My First Bible in Pictures, by Kenneth N. Taylor
Every Day with Jesus: 365 Devotions for Kids, by Charles F. Stanley
Note: I especially love the older Kenneth N. Taylor devotionals for kids that are sometimes available at thrift stores, the Goodwill, etc. If you find any of these, they are treasures, as the older versions are so good and out of print, I believe! They usually include hidden ladybugs on each page that the children can search for.
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