Updated: Oct 26, 2022
May 16, 2022
De 6:7 And thou shalt teach them [God’s Word] diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
In my mind’s eye, I can remember sitting in the flip-down seats of a large lecture hall. I can still hear my beloved college professor exhorting the class about the importance of Deuteronomy 6 in light of parenting. This godly professor stated that we must teach and train our children in the ways of God in every setting of life. Thanks to this professor, I will never forget how important it is to teach my children God’s Word.
In Deuteronomy 6, God commands parents to teach their children the Word of God with diligence and in every setting. God wants us to teach our children His ways in every setting whether we are sitting on the couch together, taking a hike together, settling sibling squabbles, or even going through our mundane morning routines.
How can we teach our children God’s Word? By reading the Word of God to them. You may be thinking, Ashley, that is such a simple statement. Yes, it is a simple statement! Sometimes I think we get distracted with the "wowsy" and "flashy" and forget the simple things in life. Jesus was direct in His teaching, and I believe we as parents need to be direct in our teaching. To teach our children the Word of God, we must read the Word of God to them. By reading the Bible to our children, God’s Word lodges in their hearts and minds and begins the work of God.
A book entitled Together: Growing Appetites for God by Carrie Ward greatly influenced my thinking about the power of God’s Word. This lady, who calls herself an everyday mom, was struggling to get into God’s Word on a daily basis in the midst of raising four children. Getting up early was a struggle for Carrie, so she decided to include her children in daily Bible reading. She read a chapter a day, five days a week, and after about three years she read through the entire Bible with her children! Carrie was amazed at the power of God’s Word to speak to her children’s hearts even through difficult passages of scripture.
I believe strongly in reading straight from the Word of God to my children. While I utilize well-written bible curriculums to teach the biblical accounts to my children, I always try to read the scripture that tells the account. I want my children to know that the “Bible stories” are not just stories; they are real, historical accounts from God’s Word that truly happened.
I try to make a distinction between reading God’s Word and then reading from Bible curriculum. For example, I may say to my children, “I am going to read this account to you from the Bible. Then I am going to use this Bible book to help us understand what the Bible says.” This way the children know what is God’s Word and what is just a resource to help us understand the Bible.
God’s Word alone has the power to transform my life and the lives of my children. God promises that His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), and I am claiming that promise in the lives of my children. Just as a seed is planted in the ground, so God’s Word is planted in the hearts of my children when they hear God’s Word. Though fruit may not spring forth immediately, I pray that the truth of God’s Word will take deep root in the hearts of my children and bear abiding fruit in their lives one day.
The living Word of God can change my children’s hearts. God did not promise that a bible curriculum will not return void but His Word will not return void. God’s Word will effectually work in the hearts of those that believe. My words cannot convict and change my children, but the Holy Spirit of God can do a remarkable work in my children’s hearts through the Word of God.
1Th 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Books about the bible, such as Bible story books or Christian growth books, can be a tremendous help to children and adults alike, yet only the Word of God is living and life-changing. Well-written, scripturally-accurate books can point us to the Word of God and open our understanding, yet it is God’s Word that will ultimately change a life.
Why am I spending so much time talking about the living Word of God and its power to change our lives? If we want our children to know God’s Word and live in His ways, then our children must hear and know God’s Word. It is not enough just to read a page or two from a bible story book and think that our children will know the Word of God. Bible story books can lead our children to an understanding of God’s Word, but ultimately God’s Word can change the lives of our children.
Should I bother reading Bible story books to my children? Absolutely! I whole-heartedly support reading Bible story books to even the tiniest of tots. Right now I am reading a very simple Bible story book to my youngest. What I love about this particular book is that at the top of each page is included the verses of scripture for the bible account. We read the verses and then read the author’s summary of the Bible account. Even my oldest enjoys this little book and is beginning to understand these simple Bible stories in greater detail.
Reading from a Bible story book has many benefits. First, children become familiar with names and places mentioned in the Bible. Second, children begin to understand how God’s economy works: right choices generally equal blessing and wrong choices equal punishment. Third, Bible story books create a familiarity for children that can be built upon in their later years. Fourth, Bible story books can create a hunger and desire in children’s hearts to study God’s Word on their own someday.
Many times I have been tempted to think that my children will not understand God’s Word, but I have been astounded at my children’s ability to learn. Often my daughter will stop my husband or me and ask what a word means. Not only is my daughter learning God’s Word by us reading to her, but her vocabulary is already beyond most of her peers. I have had people tell me that our daughter is articulate for her age, and I attribute much of her learning to hearing God’s Word.
So where do I start? The beginning is a great place to start! Genesis is a fantastic book to start reading to your children because it gives them a biblical worldview; this world is God’s world. Genesis introduces the first people, their decision to sin, and God’s promise of a Savior from sin. So far I have read Genesis, Exodus, and Mark to my oldest, and we just started reading the Gospel of John.
How much should I read each day? You know your children best and know their attention spans. I would recommend keeping Bible reading focused and short. If your children seem engaged, then keep reading. If their attentions are waning, then wrap it up for the day and come back tomorrow. You do not have to read a whole chapter a day. Right now we are making our way through the book of John a few verses at a time. I will say that often children are listening even when they do not appear to be listening.
Friend, if you have made it to the end of this post, I say thank you for taking the time to read my simple words! Whatever walk or stage of life you are in, I hope that God’s Word is precious to you, and I hope that any children touched by your life see how special the Bible is!