As with everything, as our children grow older, their daily Devotions will change too. I have found once the children become independent readers it is not long before they want to do their devotions by themselves and I am needed less and less. Our children receive their first real Bible at about this time too with an encouragement to let it(the Bible) be a light to their path.
I continue to encourage my children to use the skills that we developed earlier on: Read / Think / Respond
In the beginning of this stage we choose a reading direction together; this maybe a reading programme to read through the Bible or a book of the Bible or it maybe a devotional book. Later on they come to these decisions by themselves and ask for help if they need it.
To encourage them in their thinking we have at times given them a little list to help them focus
- Is there a command to follow?
- Is there a promise to hold onto?
- Is there a principle to live by?
Depending on their age or how they would handle this list I may well translate these questions into something at their level. For example:
- Does God’s Word tell you to do something?
- What are you going to do about that?
- Does God promise you something?
- Do you have to do something first?
- Do you believe that promise?
We encourage our children to continue with their Devotional Journal. This hasn’t been easy for some – others have thrived on it. While they are getting comfortable with this form of communication (with themselves and with God) we encourage them
- To write answers to the above questions
- To do copywork – copy out either a scripture to memorise or a passage that spoke to them
- To write out a narration – retell the story or the word they read in their own words
- To write out their prayer, or a list of prayer concerns and answers
My children’s spiritual journals are private property. I never take a peek, and I never ask to.
Dig their own wells
In highschool, many years ago, a devotion taken by the School Chaplain impacted me immensley. He told the story of Isaac and how he had to dig his own wells, he couldn’t just refresh the wells his father had dug many years before. This was a very pertinent message to a bunch of highschool kids who were all from Christian homes. We can’t get to heaven on our parents coat-tails. Each one of us must accept Jesus’ gift and have our own personal relationship with God.
This message is right for each generation – each and every one of our children must find God for themselves. Our children will have their own journey, different and separate from our journey. They will have their ups and downs. My prayer for my children though is that they will stand tall on the godly heritage they have and that they will go on from that and be stronger because of it. But it is their choice. They have to guard their hearts, they have to write God’s word on their heart, they have to decide to make Jesus as Lord. It is their choice! I am just the coach.
Are they ready to go solo?
There is no virtue in our children having Quiet Times by themselves. God wants their hearts and we must do everything we can to help our children see who God is, and guide them in responding to him. Pushing them to have Personal Devotions by themselves is not going to reach this end. We must be careful not to have expectations on our children.
So when are they ready? There is no given answer – what is right for one child will be too early for the next. I found my children asking me, or going ahead without me. That was a sure sign!! I believe that children who are brought up seeing daily personal devotions practiced and taught in the house will understand it is something that they too can practice. When they choose to do so will be determined by their own heart for God.
Until they reach this place, they need to be under your wing, reading the word, praying and learning with you.