|FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- One of our goals for our children is that they grow up with a love for God's Word, the Bible.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
Since I want my children to grow up to be men and women of God who are complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work, they need to learn to receive their guidance for living and serving from the Bible. (Let me say here that I am not discounting the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and decisions, only that right now I am focusing on the Bible.)
David expresses in Psalm 19 his love for and need of God's Word, and he only had the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. How blessed we are to live in a time and place when we can easily obtain the entire 66 books of the Bible in our own language! We can do no less than share it with our children, teaching them by our examples and our words to learn it, to love it and to depend on it for direction as they grow and become responsible for their own decisions, no matter what their age. From the womb until the time they are young adults, there are things parents can do to help your child know, and ultimately love, Scripture.
In the womb
Did you know that children can hear and begin to learn before they are born? "Secret Life of the Unborn Child" by Thomas Verny shows that unborn babies respond to and are soothed by the music of Vivaldi and Mozart, but when Beethoven, Brahms or rock music are played, they become very restless. By about the sixth month of pregnancy a baby also begins to recognize his parents' voices and speech patterns. What better thing could he begin to learn than the cadences of Scripture, read carefully and thoughtfully to him by his parents?
As an infant
Scripture-reading should continue after the child is born. While he will not understand the words, he can learn to associate the reading of God's Word with being held in a quiet and comforting way. What do we read to an infant? All of the Bible is "profitable," but you might focus on Psalms and Proverbs, which have a rhythm and a pattern to them. It is never too soon to begin to read to your children about heroes of the faith. You can also begin to read verses and passages that you will lead them to memorize first when they can begin to speak, such as John 3:16, Ephesians 6:1, Proverbs 21:11, Romans 3:23 and 6:23, verses from the Psalms, and the Lord's Prayer.
As a Toddler
As your child grows and becomes mobile, you will discover that it is hard to keep him in one place for a long reading. That is alright. Reading does not have to be long; it just has to be regular. Let your child know that you are reading from a very special book -- the best Book in the world -- the Bible. It is a letter from God to us. Then pick a two- or three-verse passage to read to him in a happy, dramatic way, and identify three or four words or direct quotes from that passage that you can repeat to/with him to emphasize what you have read. You should continue reading verses and passages that you will want him to memorize.
As a pre-schooler
Pre-schoolers love stories, and by the time they are around two years old you should be reading them the stories in the Bible. Will they understand every word? No. That is why God gave them parents. You are there to explain the hard words and ideas on their level. Read to them slowly, clearly, with a voice that rises and falls with the crises in the story. Be dramatic! It will hold their attention and help them to remember the details. Don't be afraid to read what you might consider to be more difficult passages to your children. We have found that God was able to use those in our children's lives for growth, discussion and learning. Continued...