Introduction: Kids Relationship with God Pt.2
God created your kids for relationship with Him and the cool thing is God is not hindered by the age of your kids or their ability to focus! In fact, I believe any parent can do this and your kids can be any age. I believe it’s simple to do. Plus, I believe teaching your kids to spend time with God is one of the most valuable lessons you can share.
I know you might be thinking, “I want to do this, Josh! But how??” I want to answer this by sharing my own experience with you and I pray it gives you practical insight as you begin teaching your kids to spend time with God, too.
Before I go any further I have a question. Mom and Dad, are YOU spending time with God? If yes, SWEET! If not, today is a perfect day to start.
Spending time with God is crucial to growing closer to Him and becoming more like Him. Imagine being married but never dating your spouse or being alone with them. Your marriage would grow very slowly, if at all. But, if you date and spend time alone together, your marriage will grow in intimacy.
In the Bible, Jesus set an example of spending time with the Father by withdrawing alone to pray. As followers of Christ, let’s do the same. Let’s grow our relationship with God by spending one on one time with Him.
If today is your day to begin a quiet time, here are some general ideas of how to have one. You can start with my suggestion and then chat with a pastor, elder, or trusted member of your church for further instruction and guidance.
Quiet Time Structure
First, begin with worship. There is a lot of worship on iTunes and even on YouTube. I recommend Chris Tomlin and Hillsong as a starting point but there are so many. This is a question for the pastor of your church, as well. Then, I get out my Bible and read. Reading the Word gives wisdom and discernment, helps me live as Jesus wants me to live, and teaches me valuable lessons about walking with God. If you feel a little overwhelmed with where to start reading, a devotional book is a good place to start. Each day includes a Bible verse and a short thought about that verse. I recommend Jesus Calling or My Utmost for His Highest. Finally, I end in prayer. Prayer can begin with a minute of silence listening for the Holy Spirit or by repenting for something I feel convicted about. Other times, I simply begin praying for my family or special prayer requests I have heard about.
Time with God can look very different each time and this is just a simple suggestion of how to have one – the most important thing is to begin!
Teaching Your Children
I began inviting my children into my quiet time by asking each one to join me individually. I wanted my kids (11, 10, and 8 at the time) to see what spending time with God looked like. I know ultimately each of my children will choose to do this their own way (or not at all), but showing them gives a practical understanding of spending time alone with God.
First, I invited my daughter Kylie. At 11, she was already spending time with God. However, I believed it was important for her to do this with me. I began our time by turning on worship music so we could worship the Lord together. I’ll admit, it was a little awkward singing together with my Beatbox, but we pushed through. Then, we opened up the Bible, read, and talked about it. I answered any questions she had and asked her what she thought. Next, I showed her my prayer list, let her add her own requests, and then we had a cool prayer time together. At the end, I explained other components I might add like waiting quietly, or repentance, etc.
When we finished, I asked her what she learned. She said, “Dad, I already do all of this!” AWESOME! Simply because she already did all that I exampled didn’t mean it was a loss. In fact, it was a treasured time together and a sweet memory we both share.
Now, with my two boys (10 and 8 at the time) it was very different. My boys weren’t spending time with God like Kylie and really needed my direction. When I brought them in individually to my time, they were like sponges. Each was curious, engaged, and interested to be a part of my time with God. For years they had watched me go into my office and close my door but to be a part of my time with God was cool for them. In both cases, this time spent with my boys launched them into having their own quiet times with God. What an amazing blessing.
My kids are now 17, 15, and 13 and they all spend time with the Lord regularly. We’re not religious and I don’t ever ask them, “Did you have your quiet time today?” I want them to be in a love relationship with our God and not feel a religious duty. I will however ask them from time to time about their relationship with God. These check ups are healthy and open up opportunity for shepherding and mentoring as I raise them.
Advice To parents
I would like to give a word of caution. I have heard parents punish their kids by making them read the Bible or write out passages of scripture. It isn’t unusual to see parents exhibit “Bible thumping” or turn family interactions with God or His word into discipline. I have watched the hearts of these kids at times end up hard toward God and His Word. This makes me incredibly sad.
As a parent, I find abundant life in Jesus and I want my kids to find this, too. One of the awesome things we get to experience in life is a relationship with God. If your child starts spending time with God, be intentional to make it positive and not negative. If they wake up one morning grumpy, don’t ask, “Did you have your quiet time?” Or, if they disobey, don’t make them “go spend time with God” as a form of correction. There are many healthy ways to discipline your kids without turning time with God into a burden.
Bringing your children into your quiet time is a great way to encourage their relationship with God to grow. You don’t have to be a pastor or have a Bible College degree to do this – anyone is capable!
If you try this with your kids, please let me know how it goes. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I pray God mightily moves in your family as you encourage your children to grow closer to God!