In this series of three blogs, I want to reflect on the importance of exposing our children to the Bible in the home.
This first article we look at the importance of reading the Bible together. In the next article we consider places where we can start to read the Bible. Finally, we will look at how we can encourage a regular habit of Bible reading and personal devotion.
But first a quick comment on why we should prioritize reading the Bible together. In times past, reading the Bible together as a family was consider the normal daily thing to do. With increased time pressures of modern living and decreased communication across the generations, family Bible reading times are not as common as they should be.
That’s not to pile guilt on parents, but it is a statement that we should seek to read the Bible together regularly as a family, even if it is only a verse a day on the way out of the door or in the car on the school run.
The Lord spoke to the Israelites, in Deuteronomy 31:12-13 and told them: ‘Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.’
The law they were supposed to read was the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible. The Lord says read these passages all together every 7 years so that your children will hear it and learn to fear the Lord. This reading aloud of Scripture in community was a key part of faith transmission.
Most parents (and pastors and children’s ministers) would probably not leap to reading through Leviticus and Deuteronomy as their first go to passage, but if the children of the Israelites were expected to endure this mammoth reading, then our children will be able to cope with a short reading together.
God’s word is living and active – sharper than a double edge sword. It contains timeless wisdom that is as relevant for our modern lives, full of gadgets and activities, as it was when it was first written.
It is really that important?
There is a move that says it does not matter whether we read the Bible with our children or not. After all parenting is hard and life is busy. Surely our example will be enough? But if we are serious about raising a generation who will stand for the Lord in these dark days then we should do all we can to help them learn about and encounter the Lord.
We must be intentional. The Lord did not tell the Israelites in the desert to set a good example for their children so that they would grow to fear the Lord (though this is an important part of discipleship). Instead he told them to teach the commandments, to talk about the word of God as they walked along the road and as they sit down together, to put God at the very centre of their home and conversations.
The enemy is not silent but is actively working to seduce children away from purtiy and truth. The Bible, the sword of the Spirit, is an incredible weapon that the Lord has given us to combat the lies of the enemy. By sharing just a few verses each day our children will have heard thousands of verses by the time they leave home.
It may feel strange when you first begin, but I encourage you to persist past the first few weeks and your children will soon be familiar with the routine. See this as something you do together (rather than something you do to them) and watch their knowledge of God grow.
At this point you may be thinking, I’d love to do this, I need to do this, but I simply don’t have time! You can do this. Let me encourage you that it does not take much time to read a verse on the way out the door or on the school run or before the evening meal finishes. Build it into your routine and you will not regret it.
One family have their verse for the week that they put on the fridge and by the front door. The family read it as they leave the house and talk about it as they go. Another family have a whiteboard by the front door on which they write thoughts and reflections on the Bible and the things the Holy Spirit is speaking to them.
As parents we have a God-given responsibility to share our faith with our children and to raise them in the ways of God. Let’s grab this task with both hands and read the Bible out loud, often and all together.
In the next blog we’ll think about where to begin.