A couple of weeks ago, I began a series of occasional posts on that most important of responsibilities we have been given as a parent: teaching our kids about God. The first post focused on how play-acting can be a helpful teaching technique with kids. Today, I want to talk about the benefits having devotion time together, side by side.
Years ago, I remember reading a wonderful article in Discipleship Journal about how we go through seasons of life in relation to our devotional times. The time a single college student has to spend in the Word, prayer, and worship is different from the time a young mom or dad with small children has to spend. There are so many seasons and stages of life and we ought not hold ourselves to the standard of a previous stage of life. The important thing is simply to be in the Bible to the best of our ability in the stage of life we are in.
Some of my mommy friends and I were recently discussing that we all struggle to even start having a devotion time because we feel we cannot get into it with the depth that we would like, the depth that we have had in the past. The feeling that easily arises is, "Why start?" But what we fail to recognize is that consistency is the key, not perfection. To be in the Word regularly, even if all we can manage is a few minutes, is better than a once-monthly, stressed-out cram session. After all, we can always add to a consistent routine. There is room to grow, but at least there is a foundation.
What does this have to do with teaching our kids about faith, you ask? Well, when I was growing up, my mom made a point of having me see her read God's Word. I think, remembering that from a child's perspective, I held her up to a high standard that said somehow she managed to go in depth in the little kid years. And so when when I couldn't figure out how to do this, I felt like a failure. I talked to her recently about this and it seems it was more challenging than I remembered. I began to realize that what really matters is just that I read God's Word and that my daughter sees me reading and valuing God's Word.
About a week ago, we started a new routine at our house: Mommy and Burrito devotions together in the morning. It all started at Burrito's initiation. I went into her room to get her up and found her in her rocking chair with a children's Bible. "I'm listening to God's Word," she told me. My heart was warmed and since I was behind on my Bible reading (again), I ran and grabbed my Bible and study guide, plopped down on the floor and took this God-given opportunity.
I caught up with my Bible reading that day and the experience was so precious that every day since then I have gone in, gotten her changed and had devotion with her. I read my Bible. She pages through a children's Bible of her choice. Yes, she peppers me with whispered questions. "Who's this, Mommy?...Is this Jesus?...What are they doing?...Are you all done with your reading?" Sometimes I try to read the same sentence in my Bible many times before I finish it. But we are learning a routine together and gaining mutual accountability. We are valuing God's Word together. Sometimes we share with each other what we are "reading." Opportunities for teaching arise right and left. When I finish my reading, I read her a Bible story or two. Then we fold our hands and pray together. We ask God's blessing on the day and we give thanks for the answers to prayer. It's simple and it's beautiful.
I think we will be having devotions together for a long time.