I sometimes forget that I need to teach certain things to my kids. I mean it makes total sense that I need to teach my kids multiplication, and that driving isn’t an instinctual skill that someone can just pick up. But I forget other things. Like teaching them how to clean efficiently, study skills, or how to be a good friend, and spiritual habits.
I feel like passing on spiritual disciplines to our kids is also something that can go overlooked. I expect my kids to pray, but have I taught them how? If the knowledge of the Bible I receive in church on Sunday is not enough to sustain me through the week, how can I expect it to be enough for my kids to have a working knowledge of God’s word?
Something I never understood before having kids, is how important teaching by modeling is. My toddlers used to follow me with their own tiny hand broom and dust pan, sweeping crumbs behind me in the kitchen. They wore my shoes from my closet, and wanted a drink from my coffee because the fact that I start each morning with it, must mean that it’s good. In the same way, if my kids see me only worship and honor God on Sunday, they will assume that is often enough.
We pray at meals, and we pray together before bed. This more than anything can communicate to your kids that God is a personal God. I want my prayers to model to my kids how important it is to praise God, to thank him and even to present my requests to him. I made cards for my girls to hang over their beds with their war room prayers on them. When one of them wakes up from a bad dream Ken or I pray over them so they can fall back to sleep.
Oh friends I have shared that this doesn’t always come easily for me. But memorization does come more easily for children. So even on the days that I don’t want to, I remind myself that God intends for the word to be written on our hearts. I have talked in the past about the memory verse system that I use for my kids, and I have been tweaking my own ideas to try to make scripture memory a bigger part of my spiritual walk. For my twins, the best thing is this scripture memory system.
Reading the Bible
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My goal is that every morning when my kids wake up and stumble sleepy eyed into the kitchen, they will find me with Bible open. I want them to know that I need to hear and read God’s word every day. It is my food and I want them to expect that I will be in the word when they wake up. We began reading the Bible to them as soon as they could sit through a one minute Bible story in a children’s Bible. It’s part of our bedtime routine. If you have ever tried dropping a part of your kid’s bedtime routine, then you will know that even if we forget to do a Bible story one night, they will wholeheartedly remind us.
Make sure that you have an age appropriate version available for your kids! My twins, at age 10, have the New International Reader’s Version. Its written at a third grade level, so there is no question of whether they can grasp the language. I want the word to be approachable for them and they have had these Bibles for about two years. This year I have started teaching them how to make note cards with key words to look for in the text. They can use the note card as a bookmark as they read through a book.
Often, if I am reading my Bible at the table when they wake up, they will grab theirs and read with me. I try to make sure they have a card for whatever book our pastor is preaching through so that they can begin learning how to really think about what they are reading, the meanings behind the stories instead of just the stories themselves.
This one comes easily for me. Music speaks to our souls in ways mere words sometimes don’t. I love music, and so do my kids. We often turn on praise and worship music in the car when we are tired and anxious to get home. I have their favorite songs on my phone and pull them out when we need peace. I pray that as they grow, these will become their heart songs, that they lean on in difficult times.
When we sing a song at church and my kids mention that they love it, I play it while we make meals or relax in our home, so that they have a chance to learn the lyrics. I have my own heart songs, but I have intentionally made certain songs a part of my kids’ lives. When H was a baby, I used to sing a certain song to her when I was putting her to bed. I told her about the song, and when she is feeling upset, she will ask me for it. The Bible says that we should sing praises and hymns to God. He is worthy of so much more than the feeble beauty in the songs we sing.
What about you? What kids of spiritual habits are you working on with your kids? If you haven’t had a chance, be sure to check out my resource page. I have compiled a list of resources I use with my kids, as well as two kinds of (free) prayer cards you can print to use with your kids!