2 Simple Routines That will Change Your Family
As Christian parents we know the Bible charges us to instruct our children in the ways of the Lord as we are sitting and lying down and getting up and going about our daily lives (Duet. 6:9). The problem is that our good intentions get buried under laundry and screaming babies and hectic schedules. We intend to pray with our children but can never find a quiet moment. We intend to have family devotions but just keeping the kids alive feels like a total victory most days! I get it. I’ve been there. I am STILL there some days, but here are 2 easy routines that have worked well for our family. They are so simple that you can begin today, and once you make your initial plan there is no prep work involved. Hallelujah!
1. Pray with your kids at bedtime and let them pray too.
Most nights in our house my husband will read a short passage from whichever devotional we are using at the time, and then we will all take turns praying. This has become one of the best ways for us to hear what is going on inside our children's hearts and minds. Through their prayers we learn what they love, what they’re worried about, what theological truths they are trying to understand, and what they are thankful for. For example, my oldest son (6 years old) often asks God questions in his prayers, and that helps us know how we can better explain things to him at a later point. Lately he’s been saying “God, I know that Jesus died on the cross, but I don’t understand how Jesus died if God never dies. Jesus is God so can you please explain that to me?” Um…yes, Lord, can you please explain that to him so I don’t have to! Another benefit of praying together as a family is that your children can hear you pray. Most of us thank God for our food before dinner, but a bedtime prayer is often farther reaching and allows our kids to learn healthy patterns of praying, such as gratitude, confession and adoration in addition to supplication. Plus, this gives your children a chance to hear about the things that are heavy on your heart and mind. This will change your family. Give it a try tonight.
2. Memorize scripture together.
There are many benefits to memorizing scripture. It teaches, rebukes, corrects, trains, washes, etc. (You can read my article about teaching your kids to fight fear with scripture here.) Assuming you agree that filling your children with scripture is highly beneficial, here are two easy ways to do this:
Print a list or set of memory verses and learn/review them at the breakfast table. We have been using the ABC x 3 cards you can print here. We put ours on a ring and hang them on a hook in the kitchen so that they are easily available to review when we are sitting at the table. Most of these verses are short and take about 10 seconds to read, so don’t even try to tell me you don’t have time for that! Even mornings that are rushed and loud and crazy can accommodate a 10-second scripture reading, and those crazy mornings are probably the ones that need it the most! On mornings that allow for a bit more time, you could explain the verse a little or make up hand motions to go along with it. We tell our children that God’s Word is important, so here is a chance to put our money where our mouth is. Begin the day by speaking words of truth into your home and into your kids' hearts before you all head out the door in different directions. Plus, you’ll be surprised how quickly your children will memorize those verses – probably faster than you!
The second way we memorize scripture together is in the car. The reason I like going through ABC memory verses is because it is so easy and fun to say “Let’s see if we can get through the whole alphabet before we arrive at our next stop!” I’ll say “A” and they’ll shout back “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find.” I try to do this about once a week, and the kids usually like it. Want to know an even easier way to memorize scripture in the car? Download this CD (or something similar) and press play. Boom! We have several CD's that have songs that come straight out of the Bible, and as a musician I will say that the music is not that bad. It can be hard to set direct scriptures to music without the music getting a little weird (let’s be honest), but there are several options available that do a great job, and the benefits are huge! This is something you can start today! Redeem those long car rides and errands, and use that time to pour truth into your children! Here are a few more options.
Joshua 1:8 - This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
One last thing: when your kids are memorizing scripture, that truth will live and grow inside of them and come out in all sorts of unexpected ways. It’s amazing! You will probably hear bits and pieces making their way into their bedtime prayers. The other night one of my sons prayed “God, we know that You are the same yesterday, today and forever.” What a wonderful truth to know and what a wonderful way to pray! Start today, friends. These simple routines will transform your family.