The main focus of our daily devotions is to build a relationship with God. There are many “skills” required to build a relationship (to build any relationship) – we listen, we talk, we need to be honest, we remember, we celebrate. All these aspects of relationship can be a part of our relationship with God too.
Though when it comes to our daily time with God there are some specific skills that we use to have that devotional time, and we can encourage our children to learn these skills so when they read the Word of God they can benefit from their time.
When I have my Devotional time I
- and Respond
These 3 basic skills are a good foundation to teach our children.
“Reading the Bible without meditating on it, is like trying to eat without swallowing.” (Anonymous) It is from this basis that I encouraged our children, not just to read their devotions, but to dwell in the Word.
These 3 Skills will Help your Child’s Daily Time with God
Before our children can read independently we had their quiet time together so I could read the Word of God to them.
I encouraged my children to read the Bible for themselves as early as possible in their reading journey. In fact the Bible, or a Children’s Bible, was the first book each of my children read independently. This was a part of me elevating the Bible as an important book for their life.
Once my children were independent readers, and to a degree had an independent relationship with God, I encouraged them to have some input into what they chose to read for their devotional time. Over the years different children chose different things – they may have chosen a devotional book that suited their particular needs or style, or they chose specific books of the Bible to read through, doing a little bit every day.
Initially thinking skills are in the form of comprehension. After a reading our portion for the day, I asked my young children to narrate back what they heard. This helped them keep their attention while I read, as they knew they would have to retell it.
The most exciting thing about a child retelling something is you get a glimpse into their heart. They will innocently retell something from the angle of something that sparked in their heart and this gives you an opportunity to fan the fire as you discuss that aspect further. Listen carefully as your children talk back about the things they have heard and be ready to go down a few rabbit trails.
As our children grew older both in thinking skills generally and their understanding of the things of God I encouraged them to talk broader than just retelling. I wanted to hear what that scripture meant to them, or an application they saw in their lives or questions they may have had. By talking about what they are thinking we can dig deeper and they grow further.
You will find a trend in our family to respond to learning situations by writing. This is our family way. This is not the only way; this is why I write about Responding, rather than Writing. Your response to God can be with Music, with Song, with Dance, with Prayer, with Thought, with Art, with action.
God does not set out a requirement for a Devotion Journal! The reason I like to Journal is it becomes a record of my thoughts and prayers, a record of what God has put in my heart. A journal becomes a point of focus for the children as they process what they are hearing and thinking about.
A Devotion Journal is not the height of spirituality, but rather a tool for us to use as we respond to God’s love towards us. Faith without action is no faith at all, the Bible tells us, so our ultimate response to God needs to be a changed life.
Why have a Devotional Time with God?
It is important that our children understand why we have a daily devotional time and why we are encouraging them to do it too. It is about setting aside time where were can connect with Jesus and by connecting with him daily our relationship grows stronger. Any encouragement we give our children to have a daily quiet time, must be because they want to have a growing relationship with Jesus – otherwise they do their Devotion Time, they read, think, respond out of habit or duty – and they miss the point.
When parents ask me about teaching their kids how to have a quiet time there is a balance between the art and the science.
Part of the science – the how to – is tied up with these three skills: reading, thinking, responding. But the art – the heart of it – is our kids’ desire to have a growing relationship with Jesus. We cannot focus on the how to without firmly establishing the why. Our children must want a relationship with Jesus before we encourage them to have a devotional time. Otherwise we lean into legalism. We need to teach our kids how when they want it.
Teach your Children How to Have a Daily Quiet Time With God: Teaching young children to have a daily quiet time with God starts with them on your knee. They can learn to read and think and pray with you.
How You Can Help your Child Have a Devotional Time: The No.1 Thing Parents can do to help their kids have a devotional time is to have one themselves! The 2nd thing to do is to let them see you have your quiet time.
How to Teach our Children to Hide God’s Word in their Heart: We need to expose God’s Word, the Bible to our children, if we want them to value it enough to hide it in their heart.
How to teach kids who live in a Christian home about Jesus: For kids who grow up in a Christian home they need to know that being a Christian is relationship with Jesus – it isn’t about doing good.
Over to you:
Do your kids have a daily devotional time? Do you have any tips to share with others?