Teaching Kids to Love God: From Theory to Practice
- Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Editor's Note: Read Part I, "The Most Important Thing to Teach Your Public-School Child."
Now that we understand the goal, what are the steps that will get our families there? What do we need to do on a regular basis to nurture this all-out love for God in our children?
A good starting point is what God said to Moses immediately following the Great Commandment, as recorded in Deuteronomy 6. Right after the sentence that says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . .” come these words:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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 (vv. 6-9).
This passage is in fact the Jewish confession of faith, recited weekly in synagogues. It has great significance for Christians as well, as it calls us to infuse daily life with discussion about God’s truth. What we adults claim to believe and cherish needs to become visual and verbal, or kids will never know. They can only grasp what they see and hear from us.
In a minute we will describe for you what shape this takes at the Pritchard house. We don’t want you to think this is the only way to do it—or that you have to imitate our method exactly. We aren’t claiming to be perfect. Other Christian families are raising godly kids who thrive in public school through different means. But each of those families is doing something intentional. They aren’t just assuming that their kids will gain a solid faith by osmosis. They know, as Deuteronomy implies, that parental initiative is essential.
Having said that, here is what we’ve developed for our eight kids:
Every school morning of the week, we gather in our family room at 6:30 A.M. in our pajamas to start the day with Bible reading—specifically, the books of Psalms and Proverbs. Many years ago we heard about Billy Graham’s personal habit of reading five psalms and one chapter of Proverbs each day, thus completing both books once a month (there are 150 short psalms, and Proverbs has 31 chapters—so the math works out nicely). We decided long ago to borrow his idea for our devotion time with our growing family, and we’ve kept it going ever since.
The book of Psalms is all about our relationship with God, while the book of Proverbs is all about our relationship with humanity. Put them together, and you have the necessary wisdom for conducting your life, both vertically and horizontally. No, these two don’t cover everything God has revealed to us, and we encourage ourselves and our kids to study the other 64 books of the Bible on our own. We naturally hear sermons and attend Sunday classes at our church that focus on other books. But together as a family, we concentrate on mining the tremendous wealth of Psalms and Proverbs.
At the time we started, Alyse (our oldest) was just in first grade, but we had also taken in three high-school boys who needed a stable home for a season, and we desperately wanted to plant some of God’s Word in their hearts. We made the decision simply to read God’s Word and let it speak to us all. We began seeing the fruit of that, and have kept seeing it all through the years.
Yes, it’s hard to get everybody awake and downstairs at 6:30 in the morning! Kids show up on chilly mornings wrapped in blankets and still rubbing their eyes. But think about it: The day has to get started sooner or later anyway. We might as well be definite about it. Six-thirty is the “show your face” hour at our house on school days, no discussion or debate.
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