How does Pastor John handle spiritual training in the home?
Looking back over 31 years of parenting, the things that have been constant are related to the fact that we always knew that the Bible and prayer had to be woven into the life of our family, both between me and Noël privately, and with our children together.
Let me just mention what we aimed to do on a daily basis:
1. We encouraged our children from the very beginning to be alone with the Lord in the morning. That can start as soon as you can prop a child up with a pillow so that he doesn’t topple over and bonk his head. You can set a tape recorder beside him with a song about “Jesus loves me, this I know” or a Bible story.
So a child can have devotions from age 1 on, as strange as that may sound, if you train him to have a little time alone to be with God. He can’t read yet, obviously, and he won’t read yet for another 4 or 5 years. But he can listen and he can enjoy that time. So we did that, and then it turned into Bible stories. Then it turned into giving them their own Bible that they could read, which went on up through teenage devotions.
2. We were at the table together every morning, and I led devotions at breakfast with the children. And if the child is little he just says “Jesus” and that’s all he says. But we used to work our way through the Global Prayer Digest so that there was a missions component. And then we read a short passage of Scripture, and I would pray. It might not take more than 5 minutes, because of the children being little.
3. Then in the evening we had family devotions, which was a little longer. We read a longer portion of Scripture, and all the children–if they were able–would pray, not just me. Noel would pray, I would pray, and each of the children would pray. And as soon as they could talk, we taught them to pray.
4. And then when we put them to bed, we tucked them in, blessed them with
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace, and joy, and hope, and love, and a good night’s rest, and someday a godly husband. (Talitha will always laugh when I say this last line.)
And then I sing a song for Talitha. And then I give her a big hug. There is a very definite routine that we walk through. And there is a word component even as you tuck the child in bed at night.
That has been the routine for 31 years, basically, though I don’t want to create the impression that it is flawless or that we didn’t miss mornings or evenings. We did, but this was the goal and the routine. And pretty much we have been able to keep with it.