As Christian parents, I think each one of us would agree that we want our kids to be:
- on a good path
- in a good relationship with God
- eager to do good works
We do all sorts of things to make sure these happen. We take them to church. We put them in Sunday School. We discipline them. We instruct them about what is right and what is wrong. We encourage them to be kind and thoughtful.
These are all great things.
But we might be missing out of the one thing that is guaranteed to help us accomplish our goals: reading the Bible with our children.
The results from The American Bible Society’s 2020 “State of the Bible Report” are shocking. They found that only 9% of American Christians read their Bible on a daily basis. It’s the lowest since the research began a decade ago, down 5% since the start of the pandemic. We are in the midst of one of the most challenging times, and our Bibles are collecting dust. (You can read more about the report here.) I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that if parents aren’t reading their Bibles, they probably aren’t reading it with their children either.
This is not meant as a guilt trip. I get it. I could do a lot better myself. There are so many things vying for our attention that sometimes reading God’s word gets bumped off the “to-do” list. And let’s be honest, sometimes we just don’t want to. Maybe that’s because we just don’t see all the benefits.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for 1) teaching, 2) rebuking, 3) correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be 4) thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
That sounds exactly like our list above, doesn’t it? And according to Paul, Scripture is the way to get it done. But how do we start? Here are some tips.
Make the move
Maybe you are not reading your Bible regularly. Maybe you don’t even know where to start. Why not start with your kids? This is a journey you can start together.
Make the right choice
There are a LOT of Bibles out there for kids. Obviously, every child is different, so it’s important you make the best choice for your child’s level of comprehension and attention. Here are a few good ones (not affiliate links):
Young children (5-7 year olds): The Promises of God Storybook Bible
School aged children (8-10 year olds): The One Year Bible for Children (Tyndale Kids)
Older children (10 and up): Contemporary English Version
Make it routine
Decide when you are going to do it, and stick with it. Maybe your daily Bible reading will become part of your bed-time ritual. Whenever you decide to do it, make it a priority. You wouldn’t send your kids to bed without brushing their teeth. Bible reading needs the same status.
It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out thing. Just read a few verses or a chapter, if it is more of a story-type passage.
Make it a conversation
If you just open the Bible and read a section and snap it shut again, you won’t reap those benefits you are looking for. The Bible isn’t magic (although the words within are alive, active, and sharper than a double-edged sword). The Bible is a letter to you from God. It’s one of the main ways He speaks to you. When you are done reading, it’s time to say something back. Some people journal. Some people pray. You can model both for your children. Three simple discussion questions can guide your “talk” with God after you read with your children.
- What did I learn about God?
- What did I learn about me?
- What does God want me to do with what I learned?
Your kids may not have the answers to these questions, but you can model. Before you start reading, it is important that you ask God to clear you mind and tell Him that you are listening. Then, as you read the Bible to your child, listen to words or phrases that seem to “jump out” at you as you read. That’s the “alive” part of the Bible. It’s the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Tell your child what you noticed and your answers to the 3 questions above. Even if your children are little and you are using a picture Bible, God will still speak. His word never goes out without accomplishing something (Isaiah 55:11).
Then take what you heard and turn it into a prayer back to God. You can say something like, “Thank you Lord for showing in the story of Ruth that you never forget us. Even when times get hard, you are there, providing and protecting. Help me to trust you more.”
There may be times that you feel as if you are reading and no one is listening. You may need to make some tweaks to the time of day or Bible choice. But no matter what, God will speak and His word is powerful enough to accomplish what He says it will do.Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay