How to Introduce Your Child to a Devotional Time
As I’ve been trying to get back into a rhythm of a set-aside time of quietness with the Lord (that’s what some of you probably call a “quiet time”), I’ve also been wondering when it is appropriate to begin to introduce the same idea to my children.
So some straight up honesty is happening in this post. We have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to family devotions or times of regularly reading Scripture with the kids. Once upon a time we made sure that one of our bedtimes books was a Bible story. It’s not like we don’t want it to be, it’s just not a habit so it doesn’t happen.
|We have no excuse- note the 6 (SIX!) Bibles
we have laying out on the kids’ dressers
to “remind” us to read regularly.
Anyway, we’ve started attending a new church in our new city, and they use the Orange curriculum, which is a great packaged children’s ministry curriculum that believes the church and parents are partners in the spiritual formation of the children. The curriculum isn’t just something for the sunday school teachers to use, but it also gives parents the tools they need to know what the students are learning about on any given day, and how they can enter into that naturally. One part of the curriculum is a set of 5 short devotions that students starting in elementary school can use as a sort of “daily devotion.”
As I’m introducing it to him, I want to get it right. He’s a kid that will do something because it’s “the right thing to do”, but not because he wants to. Of course there’s a bright side to that, but because I’m the same way, I know that there’s a deep dark side to that too. I know that there’s a big possibility that he’ll go through life doing the right thing, and that one day a switch will flip and he will resent everything that has been put on him “to do”. I know that he will be tempted more than others to believe that God loves him because of what he does or doesn’t do, not because of who he is. I’ve already seen glimpses of that in my sweet 5 year old boy, and while I know I can’t stop that from happening altogether, I can certainly help him by framing things like a devotional time in a helpful way.
So, I’m introducing it to him as a time where he can get to know God better through the Scriptures and praying. I’m not going to talk about how many times he should or shouldn’t do it. I’m not going to be asking him everyday if he’s had a devotional time. Instead, I’m going to give him the tools, walk with him through it a few times, and then see what happens. This isn’t to say that I’m not going to ask him about it at all; just not everyday. I’m also going to be more intentional about having a devotional time while the kids are awake as well, knowing that this kind of thing is often more “caught than taught.”
If you’ve been contemplating the same thing, here are some tools that may be helpful:
1. NIrV Bible. This Bible is a full-size Bible (i.e. not a picture Bible, has all Scripture, not just certain stories) and it is written at a 3rd grade reading level. I think it’s important that my son is reading something that he understands! Some will argue that kids should skip right to the adult versions, but that’s not my slant. They’ll get there eventually :).
I’m looking at getting him this one:
by Sarah Young
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing
by Sally Lloyd-Jones
(not all the songs direct the kids’ hearts to God, but some do)