I get it. We are all busier than we’ve ever been. Taking time to read the Bible with your children can easily get moved to the bottom of the list. There are soccer practices, spelling lists, meal planning, errands, and don’t even mention how long the grass is! The list seems to get longer every day! However, the benefits from reading God’s Word together are so far reaching that I believe that by the end of reading this article you’ll have a new commitment to this family discipline.
Whether you decide to read a few verses at breakfast to start the day, a chapter after dinner, or reading a children’s Bible together as part of your bedtime routine, reading scripture together communicates unity of purpose to your family. The practice allows you to state, “This is the rule book by which this home lives.” It doesn’t have to be much, in fact it can be one verse a week, a chapter a week, whatever you feel is best for your environment. When families read the Bible together they remember their greater purpose here on earth and all that they choose to stand for. I Corinthians 1:10 encourages “…that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
I have recently experienced this at my home church. My pastor is very missional. I really appreciate his commitment to go over what our vision and mission is as a church family. It reminds the congregation who we are, what we are going to do and why we are doing it. The same poses for a family reading scripture on a regular basis. It places a track before them on which they can run the race of God’s plan for their lives. It tells them who they are, what you are going to do as a family and why you are doing it.
There are things we do every day. We brush our teeth. We get dressed. We eat. We go to bed. When we make Bible reading as a family a part of what we do every day, it stresses to each member the importance of this practice as we add spiritual hygiene to our regular routine. In turn, the children, have an opportunity through your example to make this an important part of their day as young adults and parents later in life.
The Bible commands that we tell our children about what God has done. In Deuteronomy 6:7 it reads, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Reading the Bible with your family is a great way to do this. You can read a portion in which Scripture exalts God as the Waymaker, and in so doing, you are sharing with your kids what God has done in the past. Family devotional times also opens the door for you to share what God is doing in your life and give opportunity to them to share what he is doing in their own lives. This practice helps us to never forget what he has done and builds faith for what he will do in the future.
Recently, I have volunteered to tutor children who are struggling with reading. I can’t tell you how many of those children don’t have anyone who is taking time to read with them at home. There are many Bible Story books and even translations that are written at primary and secondary levels. Having your children read to you, or you reading out loud while they follow along, is great practice for their reading skills. Statistics show that when a student has good reading comprehension they are also able to excel in other areas of school and later in life in general. According to WeAreTeachers.Com, the difference between excellent readers and failing readers can be as little as 6 minutes reading a day! Perhaps, by spending a few minutes a day reading the Bible, you will also be encouraging your children to love to read. You will likely benefit both their spiritual life and their minds by equipping them with this priceless tool.
The Holy Spirit has equipped you as parents to be the caretakers of your specific children. He knows your time restrictions and daily struggles. Ask him to help you to be creative in how and when to adopt this practice into your family’s life. You may come up with an idea that is outside the box. For instance, I know one family that does a memory verse and discussion on the trip to school. The younger child reads from his Bible reader and the rest of the family discusses the meaning and works on memorization. Whatever the case, the Lord will show you how to get it done most efficiently and effectively for your family.
Seek God first (Matthew 6:33), all the other time commitments and things on your to do list are secondary. You’ll be amazed at the peace you will have when you correctly order your time both personally and in your family regarding God’s Word!
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra