Having a daily devotions time with our young children is beginning a habit we hope will last a life time.
The purpose of having a personal daily devotional time (or Quiet Time) with God is to draw close to him, in the sense of visiting with your friend every day. It is a time to hear from Him fresh every day so that you can have His Words and His ways close to you as you go through your day. Of course, God is with us all day and all we need to do is call out and He will answer, but committing a small portion of our day to focusing on our friendship with Jesus will build a stronger friendship.
This is what we need to pass onto our children.
I have started having this daily time with my children, one on one, when they are about 3-5 years old. Until then we would regularly read Bible stories throughout the day but Devotion Time is different. We continue to read Bible stories, as that is what this age group understand, but our discussions, and prayer life became more personal and focused on the individual child.
Little kids understand God far more than we often give them credit for. After all, they understand God; unseen and yet loving – that is a very abstract kind of thought. It is at this stage that we start introducing the concept of a personal relationship, of daily time spent reading and talking to God. (It is for this reason that I really don’t like putting an age on this – when your little one is developing this heart for God is a good time to begin).
Our early “Quiet Times” goes like this
- We read a Bible Story (Sometimes praying first asking God to open our ears/heart)
- The child gives me an oral narration which leads into discussion
- We discuss what personal lesson he can learn from that story.
- We write either his narration, or his personal lesson in his “God Book” (aka journal)
- We close in prayer, always asking the Holy Spirit for help with this lesson for the day.
It is a good time to make mention that our children need to know that though we call these sections of the Bible, “Bible Stories” they are true and we can believe all that the Bible says as true.
After he/she is familiar with the Bible stories we we would continue to have our “Quiet Time” together but may move to a Kids Devotional book. We would read the reference scripture first and often discuss that much in the same way as we used to discuss a Bible story. Depending on the child, we could possibly move onto reading the devotional story which they would also narrate and we would discuss. When the child is able to we add copywork to their journal entries, particularly the scripture verse which they also commit to memory.
You may prefer though to continue to read straight out of the Bible. Choose a theme, such as Beattitudes, or Parables, or Proverbs etc, and read a short section each day, continue to discuss, apply and pray about the Word of God. Don’t forget your goals or reasons behind this time; it is to help your child build a personal relationship with God.
I want my children to learn a few things from our devotional time:
- the habit of daily setting aside time to spend with God
- to turn to the Bible for wisdom and purpose (what am I to do)
- to learn to pray
- but most of all
- to learn what God is like, who He is and to respond to Him from their own heart.
We continue in this way until the child is a confident independent reader and in a place where they want, from their own heart, to pursue God. Then we transfer these habits to doing it on their own.
Little children so often delight in God, they see Him simply as their God. As parents,with far more baggage in our life, we have to be careful not to complicate things and not to have expectations on our children. It is likely, if we listen to their hearts, that we will learn something of God for ourselves. So to this end I encourage you, and myself, to keep things simple, keep your eye on the goals and discover a joy in God yourself to pass onto your little ones.