Children and the Bible - Staying motivated
Usually we have no problem remembering to eat because we have a built-in appetite that is difficult to ignore. Why then is it that we don't crave our spiritual food in the same way? (See 1 Peter 2:2-3, Psalm 119:103).
Just as good health and physical activity stimulates our appetite, our desire for God's Word comes from a healthy relationship with Him, and the application of His Word to our lives. Our relationship with God keeps us motivated; the application of His Word keeps it relevant and exciting.
To help children stay spiritually healthy and motivated to read
(or hear) the Word of God every day, here are some suggestions:
- Set aside a special time of the day to read the Bible (have a quiet time). Try to keep it relatively short - about ten minutes, depending on the child's age. Regular Bible time should become part of a child's routine as this lays a solid foundation for later on.
- Follow a reading plan that suits the child. See Bible reading aids for suggestions.
- Think of different ways to make 'Bible time' fun and less predictable (for example, by having it under a blanket with a flashlight or by encouraging the child to do actions related to the reading).
- Interaction is important. A child's mind may easily wander when merely listening passively. Let the child listen for (or find) key words. A journal page could be used to keep the child alert and focused.
- Discuss a specific point related to the reading and help the child apply it to his/her everyday life. Encourage the child to ask one question every day.
- Let the child retell the story in his/her own words. Alternatively, a difficult passage could be summarized by the parent.
- Mark off your progress through the reading plan. For example, allow the child to tick off each day's reading, or use a bookmark if you are reading through a devotional or a book of the Bible. You could have a chart indicating the progress through a book of the Bible, or a calendar with a smiley face to stick on every day after the reading.
- Encourage the child to mark or highlight meaningful verses in the Bible, thereby personalizing God's Word. Different colors could be used for themes such as warnings, promises and personal guidance.
- Prayer is important. After the Lord has spoken to us through His Word, it is appropriate for us to speak to Him. Praying about a part we have read helps us to 'digest' it. Prayer is a way of making the Truth part of our daily lives and, ultimately, part of us.
- Allow the Holy Spirit to do His part in the child's life. Don't moralize or state the obvious to make the child feel guilty about a recent incident. Rather correct disobedience and bad behavior immediately. Instead, let the child enjoy the freedom we have in Christ, and delight in the knowledge of being God's child.
Use other ways to stimulate your child's appetite for God's Word, pray, and be patient. God will do His part!
"This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how" Mark 4:26-27.