I can’t think of any greater goal in my parenting than for my children to fall in love with God’s word. This one thing will create ripples in their lives that will resonate into eternity.
I am confident that if they love the Bible and learn to drink from this life-giving well for themselves, they will not only come to understand the gospel and be saved, but will also be led along a good path in every area of their lives, for the rest of their time on this earth.
God’s word will carry and guide them long after I’m gone. Sin will not overcome them as they allow this light to shine into their lives. Their choice in future spouse, their business decisions, the way they parent their future children– all these things will fall into place as they allow the sword of God’s word to do its work in their hearts. I needn’t worry about a single other detail should this one thing fall into place.
God’s word is living and active. It accomplishes what it’s sent out to accomplish. It will not return void. It will stand forever. The Bible is a completely true revelation of God. It is one of the primary means through which we can know Him on this earth.
So this is a big deal for me as a mother.
It’s a weighty calling, because truly, only God can lead their hearts to Himself in this way. But as mothers, we have the privilege of partnering with Him in that process.
There have been many different ways that I have sought to do this over the past years. As my children are getting a bit older, I’m starting to see what’s working, and I’m excited about it!
I’d like to share that with you. Every child is different, but this is one family’s story.
I hope you will join me in making this a central part of your mission as a parent.
How to Help Your Children Fall in Love with God’s Word
Pray for them
Realizing is different than being told, and love must be an outflow of God in us.
We can’t preach our children into following God and loving Him or His word. We can’t homeschool them into it. We can’t reason, or church, or arm-twist, or “family-devotion” them into it. There is no a fail-proof formula for this. Ultimately our children will be responsible for their own individual responses to God in this life. They are unique human beings, just as we are.
And we are not in control of them or their hearts. Am I right?
So, the single most important thing we can do to help our children fall in love with God’s word is to pray and ask God to bring this about in their lives.
Fall in love with God’s word yourself
And this is the second most important thing.
I can’t imagine there is anything more impactful in a child’s life than us as parents owning this very love for ourselves. It will overflow in abundant and authentic ways that can’t be condensed into a blog post.
Do you sense that you are lacking in this area? If so, might I suggest starting here by setting aside a bit of time each day to simply read and think about it on your own? This is no ordinary book. Deep calls out to deep. You may be surprised what will happen in your heart when you simply expose yourself to God’s living word.
Set the tone
I am often reminding my kids how amazing the Bible is.
Here’s one example: My daughter said, “Cinderella is my favorite book. I love Cinderella. What’s your favorite book?” And I responded, “That’s a good one! I think my favorite book is the Bible because it’s true and it tells me about God, who loves me. I like Cinderella too, but it is a pretend story, not real, so I like the Bible best.”
I love that I get to gently put everything in context. No, Cinderella is not real (it’s really quite fanciful), nor are fairy godmothers or wishes… but God, Jesus, the redemption story, prayer… this is true.
I see that this language has had some effect. My five-year-old daughter now mirrors it when she talks about her favorite books. The Bible is at the top of her list too now, for the same reason. 🙂
Read it together, but with joy
I’ve debated whether or not to “force” our children to read the Bible with us at a certain time throughout the day or week (in other words, they don’t have a choice, we’re just going to do it). And while I might change my mind later on, for now we have opted not to “require” this.
A fun result is that our oldest now chooses to read the Bible with us most nights at bedtime, which is so fun. Our three-year-old would rather read Batman or Dr. Suess. Our one-year-old only likes books if she can hold them… and don’t even think about turning a page.
We’ve chosen to keep this fluid and natural. We encourage the Bible, suggest it, have it available, talk about it, and read it often, but we don’t force it. I truly think that this element of freedom has provided fertile soil for our oldest daughter to turn to God’s word of her own initiative. It is amazing to watch!
Because truly, turning to God’s word and getting to know Him personally should be an outflow of our reception of His love in our lives, and our love for Him. It has nothing to do with “earning” His favor by doing a daily task, and it has everything to do with a joyful relationship.
Buy them Bibles and Bible Storybooks they will connect with
If you hand a small child a difficult-to-read translation of an adult Bible, there are going to be needless barriers between that child and God’s word.
For many children, illustrated children’s storybook Bibles can be a great way for them to connect with the big God story. I particularly love those that represent the overarching narrative of the Bible, rather than isolated stories. One that we own and love is The Jesus Storybook Bible.
When they’re ready, read the full Bible with them
As wonderful as those Children’s Storybook-type Bibles are, I also believe there is a need for us to transition to reading the actual Bible with our children.
Back in the Spring, my husband and I ordered our oldest daughter a full Bible. We felt like it was time. It came in the mail for her, which is a big deal in our house, since we don’t buy our kids a lot (intentionally). This was the one we settled on. It’s amazing how such deep things can be communicated in such simple language.
That Bible has been the best thing we could’ve gotten her. She cherishes it, flips through it, asks for it to be read to her. We have worked our way through Matthew and Mark so far, and are now reading Luke. She is learning so much, just from being in a complete Bible. Nothing is watered down. It’s all there.
I get to watch her accepting hard truths with complete faith, while also having the opportunity to explain all the things that have sparked her curiosity. I get to see her putting things together, all while showing her that the Bible is accessible. That’s a huge step!
Talk about your thoughts
It’s easy to want to rush the process. By bedtime, I’m really ready to be done for the day. I’m ready to pop a bag of popcorn, sit on the couch, check Facebook, make hot tea, change into yoga pants, go to bed… something along those lines. So it is very tempting to mindlessly read the words on the page, pray, and jet.
However, when I take the time to actually unpack what we’ve read in the Bible that night, and share how it’s hitting me, it is exceedingly beneficial.
So, as you read scripture with your child, consider, what’s amazing to you? What are you thinking as you read? How are you applying it to your own life?
Rather than grilling your child with “discussion questions,” offer an authentic reaction to what you’ve just read that is humble, deep and invites a response or further dialogue.
For us, that really works.