NEVER TOO EARLY TO START
Make Bible reading part of your family's routine
You might think that your child is too little to understand a devotion or Bible reading. While it is true that many concepts are beyond comprehension of young children, there is one thing your child will understand: ROUTINE.
Routines are a reflection of who we are and what is important to us. Child development experts tell us that routines create a sense of comfort and safety for children. A 50-year research review by the American Psychological Association says that "family routines and rituals are powerful organizers of family life that offer stability during times of stress and transition." The researchers went on to say that "family routines and rituals are ... associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents' sense of personal identity, children's health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships."
If those aren't enough good reasons to establish patterns early with small children, just think about all the spiritual benefits from establishing routine time with God. We know that when a child hears God's Word, the Holy Spirit can work in his or her heart. Practically speaking, the routine of reading God's Word together offers stability. Furthermore, it helps establish a strong sense of identity: Reading God's Word together on a regular basis - making it part of daily life - helps a child understand, THIS IS WHO WE ARE. THIS IS WHO I AM. WE ARE CHRISTIANS AND THEREFORE WE SPEND TIME WITH GOD. For all these reasons, there is no better way to build a child's sense of identity as a child of God than to devote time to God's Word and prayer together.
"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates"
This passage from Deuteronomy suggests that your routines do not have to be fancy or intellectual. They simply need to be woven into your life. God's Word guides everything we do as Christians, and that needs to be super-evident to your children. That is not to say that your time with God and your everyday activities are equal in importance - quite the opposite. God wants to be first in your life. Deuteronomy 6:5, the sentence just prior to the above passage, says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." He comes first! It takes more than a fleeting moment or a passing thought to "impress" God's Word on your child's heart.
Think about making cutout cookies. Or carving your name into wood. Or rolling a pizza cutter through a thick, cheesy pizza. It takes effort to make an impression. Intentional routines are one way that we create an impression on a child's heart.
It is never too early to establish your child's sense of identity as a child of God. The resources below were shared by parents, for parents. When you try them, please let us know what you think. And if you have tried a resource not listed below, please share your ideas with us.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
The Story Bible. Edward Engelbrecht, Gail Pawlitz. Concordia Publishing House, 2011
Day by Day Kid's Bible. Karyn Henley. Tyndale House, 2002
The Jesus Storybook Bible. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Zonderkidz, 2006
You're God's Girl: A Devotional for Tweens. Wynter Pitts, Harvest House Publishers, 2016
This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years. Jaquelle Crowe. Crossway, 2017
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. Ann Voskamp. Tyndale House, 2014
Indescribable: 100 Devotions for Kids About God and Science. Louie Giglio. Thomas Nelson, 2017
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Illustrated by Jago Sally. Zonderkidz, 2012
The Chosen. DVD. thechosendvd.com
Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs. Randall Goodgame. CD
Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads and Sons. Joel Fitzpatrick. New Growth Press, 2019