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Bible Reading: Encouraging personal devotional (part 3)

My children clean their teeth most days now without us having to ask (though they do still need the odd reminder).

This is the fruit of some very intentional work on our part as parents. We saw personal as an essential part of their preparation for future life so built in a routine of brushing their teeth from when they were very little. Supporting the more when they were younger, then encouraging them and now leaving them to it.

In the same way we should encourage our children to develop their own times of reading the Bible.

In our home this is encouraged from when they have the skills to be able to read the simplest Bibles and are older than five so able to take some measure of responsibility for it.

Set a target

Set a target of reading for your children, perhaps by guiding them to a particular book. For children in primary school a few verses or a short story is a good starting point, for children in secondary school a chapter a day is very achievable. (As a rule of thumb, we encourage children to have a personal devotional time with the Lord for as many minutes as they are years old.)

One gentleman in his 50s told me that when he got home from school, the first thing he had to do before he could go out to play was go to his room and read a chapter of the Bible. At the time he was not that bothered by it, but now he looks back with thankfulness that this was deposited in him.

Bible notes can help some children, but for many they end up reading the notes and not the Bible! As such I am a fan of children reading some of the Bible directly and then taking time to think about what it says (and pray into it too!).

Whilst you cook dinner and run around crazily, or when you sit to eat you can talk together about what your child has read. Chatting together about what you have read and hearing your children’s questions can be great at unpacking things.

Model it

Let your children catch you reading your Bible too, so they know that this is a normal part of life for believers. When you see something that strikes you, excites you or gets you thinking in the Bible, talk about it with your children so they see your enthusiasm and thought process for the Bible. Finally, be praying for your children. If they are in a season where they are less enthusiastic about the Bible, pray for a hunger to be stirred in them. If they are loving the Bible at the moment, pray that they will gain great insights with God. After all we don’t just want them to know what is in the Bible – we want them to know and encounter the God of the Bible for themselves.

Useful for life

2 Timothy 3:16-17 states that ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

What greater gift can we give our children as they grow up than knowledge of the Bible and a love for the Lord! Let’s not leave this to chance or hope our children will read the Bible. Let’s be intentional.


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