“To keep a child in this habit of the thought of God––so that to lose it, for even a little while, is like coming home after an absence and finding his mother out––is a very delicate part of a parent’s work.”
CM volume 3 page 141
“The habit of hearing, and later, of reading the Bible, is one to establish at an early age.”
CM volume 3 page 142
I didn’t realize it at the time but when I became a Christian I had some good habits to establish. There were habits I needed to learn for myself and then pass on to my children. I had the desire for my children to have a close personal relationship with their Creator and not the sort of “just go to church on Sunday” up-bringing that I experienced. Crucial to our relationship with God is having knowledge (John 17:3) and if we are really going to get to know him and be pleasing to him we need to look into his Word regularly. I also yearned for my children to feel the joy that comes with reading the “letter” that their Creator wrote to them, hoping they would listen and live a long time (Eph. 6:1-4).
Introducing the Bible to my children at an early age, we established the habit of Bible reading as a family. First thing each day we gather for our Bible time and over the years we have read both children’s versions of the Bible and straight from the Bible itself. We use a modern translation as well as an Interlinear Bible.
“The field of the habits of the religious life should afford many valuable matters for reflection and teaching; as, for example, the habitual thought of God in a family; the habit of reverence in thought, attitude, act, and speech; the habit of prayer as regards time, place, manner, matter; the habit of praise and thanksgiving; the habits of attention and devotion during a service; aids to devout habits; the habit of devotional reading.”
CM volume 3 page 144
In my experience, the most valuable part of raising a family of Bible readers is that we learn Bible principles, applying and connecting the accounts and counsel we study to our everyday lives. This habit over time builds up a firm foundation and leads to behavior that is governed by the principles rather than a long list of rules. What was learned as a young one can grow with them and inside them, affecting how they react as teens. They allow themselves to be molded by the words they trust and not by outside peer pressure or even adult pressure. They can stand up for their beliefs because those principles are solidly a part of who they are and what they stand for as a young Christian.
“You will cause me to know the path of life.
Rejoicing to satisfaction is with your face;
There is pleasantness at your right hand forever.”
Memorizing scripture is important and allows the holy spirit to recall verses to mind when needed but having the ideas and principles in their hearts is the tricky part. In our family, we don’t just read scriptures. I have learned to ask them questions as a follow-up.
- What do they think about a verse or account?
- How does it apply to them?
- What did they learn from reading the account?
- And the biggest one of all….do they believe what they read?
Sometimes I assume my children get the point of a scripture but when asked a probing question, they crumble and waver. I look at it as just another opportunity to help them learn to rely on God’s spirit and direction. We do some more research, perhaps looking up cross references, hopefully finding a way to reach the heart. It takes time and you really need to pray for guidance. My goal has always been to encourage my children to look to the Bible FIRST for advice and direction. Isn’t that something we can all work on?
“When wisdom enters into your heart and knowledge itself becomes pleasant to your very soul, thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you..” Prov. 2:10
Charlotte Mason gives us some good direction in using the Bible to train our child’s thinking in Volume 3 of her series. Like all habits, they can be started at any time and it is never too late to establish this important habit of remembering the thoughts of God. You may be interested in reading about our progressive Bible study in this post: Knowledge that is Better Than Silver and Gold.
This post is part of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2011.