Shepherdess

Shepherdess

Rowan Speaks

Teaching Young Children About God

 

A friend recently asked me about the best way to teach her young children about God.  She had a devotional book that she was reading to them at bedtime, but wondered what else could she be doing?

What a blessing to know a mom who wants to learn and grow and teach her children about God! Maybe some of this advice will be helpful to others as well, so here’s what I would tell her.  Keeping in mind that I have not successfully finished raising my four children yet, I am happy to point to some scriptures that are helpful and inspired by the One who created children!

The best method that I have heard of for teaching children about God is the full immersion method! It can be found in the Bible in Deuteronomy chapter 6:6-9. I will quote it here:

“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

(Deut.6:6-9, NASB)

The first and most important section tells us that we need to have God’s words in our OWN hearts.  But don’t be discouraged if you don’t know very much.  You just need to know a little more than your little ones do, and continue to grow from there.  Sometimes the responsibility to teach others is a great motivation to learn ourselves.  Remember it’s not just facts about God, but having a relationship with Him through His son, Jesus.  If we have that, the Bible says the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 14)

The next point is that we need to teach God’s words diligently to our children.  What does diligent mean to you? I think it means to have a plan and be consistent and determined.  It’s the opposite of “winging it” or being casual about it.

Then we are given examples of times when we need to do it.  When we sit in the house, when we are walking, when we lie down and when we rise up. Some specific examples or ideas for this can be things like, when we are sitting in the house, just mentioning things we have to thank God for like our comfortable couch.  Sitting at meal times is a good time to pray and thank God for the food and all our blessings.  We can read picture books about Bible stories like Noah and the Ark, or the Prodigal Son.  We can be sure to include videos that reinforce biblical concepts such as Veggie Tales, What’s in the Bible, or CedarMont Kids.  We can listen to a song that praises God and dance around the kitchen.

For many of us in this day and age, when we are walking often translates into when we are driving somewhere.  We can put on a Christian music or story CD.  Or we can just talk about what we read in the Bible that morning.  Or we can talk about the character trait that we are trying to develop in our children that week (or lifetime!) and what God’s word says about it.  But if we are actually out for a walk, it’s a great time to point to the wonders of God’s creation and say, “Isn’t it amazing how God made the …”.

One practice I have used is the ”Stop, drop and PRAY” principle. With your little ones you can pray about EVERYTHING.  If they are scared, you can pray to God with them about it.  If they hurt themselves, you can give them a prayer along with the bandage.  If you can’t find your keys, pray about it and then give God the glory when they are found! Before they head out for school, you can pray over them for safety and wisdom.

My friend is already diligently teaching the children when they “lie down” by reading with them and praying with them.  This is a great time to process the day with God.  And when we rise up we can sing a praise song or even simply declare “Good morning, God!”

Binding God’s words as frontlets speaks to me of having it as a priority in your mind and in your focus.  And putting it on your doorposts and gates gives the practical idea of having scriptural wall art or inspiring quotations around your home to help you focus on spiritual things.

There is a commandment of God that specifically speaks to our children, and if we diligently work on this one with them and train their will, God will be able to bless them in their future lives.  It’s the fifth commandment, “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12 NASB) It’s explained also in the New Testament this way:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1)

Even three year-olds can be taught to memorize this verse.  I taught my little ones to “obey right away, all the way, in a happy way” and made up a little song to remind them: “I am happy to obey yes Mom X2, I am happy to obey, I’ll obey you right away,I am happy to obey yes Mom” (to the tune of If you’re happy and you know it). Their wills need to be trained so that having learned to obey you when they are young, they will find it easier to obey God when they get older.

I would also add that if your husband is not a Christian, you still need to be respectful of him when it comes to these things and have a humble attitude.  In your prayers you can also thank God for your husband and his diligence and hard work to provide for the family, for example.  If he doesn't want a huge scripture mural on the wall you can ask if you can put a small framed verse on an occasional table instead. He will be won over by your kind attitude far more than you insisting on your own way.

May God bless you as you grow in relationship with Him and teach His ways diligently to your children!

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