Spiritual disciplines are inward and outward practices, rooted in Scripture and tradition, that draw us closer to God. They are disciplines, practices that require work and repetition, that we grow more comfortable with and better at the more we do them. And they are a critical part of the Christian life, helping us to mature in godliness.
1 Timothy 4:7b-8 (ESV) tells us this:
“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
But spiritual practices aren’t just for grown-ups! Kids can develop their spiritual muscles as well, practicing these helpful exercises alongside their parents or on their own. Childhood provides ample opportunities to develop other lifelong habits (like exercise, eating well, table manners, chores, etc), and many of the same concepts parents use to encourage their kids to develop those habits can be applied to teaching them spiritual practices!
Over the next few months, we’ll learn about 5 spiritual practices that you can help your kids cultivate. Today, we’ll discuss the value of reading the Bible and ways to practice it as a family.
The Spiritual Practice of Bible Reading
Why Read Scripture
God’s Word is a means of grace; it helps us know God more and draw closer to him each time we read it. Scripture is full of verses that share the richness that awaits us when we read the Bible. Scripture helps us know God better, understand how to live in his world, and believe the good news about Jesus.
Put it into practice: Use these verses to talk to your kids about the importance of Scripture. Read them out loud together and discuss them.
Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Romans 15:4 (NIV)
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
How to Read the Bible with Kids
There are so many ways to engage your kids in the beauty and wisdom of Scripture, no matter what their age!
For the youngest kids, you can read board book story Bibles, like the Laugh and Grow Bible for Little Ones, or Sally Lloyd Jones’s Hug-A-Bible. Exposing them to God’s Word from the very beginning, on a daily basis at bedtime or naptime, will help build a rhythm that they can expect every day.
For preschool and early elementary kids, the Laugh and Grow Bible for Kids is a wonderful way to encourage kids to read and reflect on Scripture. It has a companion discussion page for every Bible story, so your kids can take the next step from reading Scripture to applying it to their lives. This is also a great age for your kids to start seeing you read your Bible (or listen to it) on a daily basis. Kids are imitators, and they are always watching. Build Scripture reading into your day. Invite them to sit quietly with you, or read or look at pictures in their own Bible.
For older elementary kids, get them their own full-text Bible! One of my favorites for girls is the My Creative Bible for Girls, which gives them the chance to doodle, color, and trace as they read. This engages the creative side of their brain, which is super helpful in cultivating a love of Scripture! For boys, check out the Action Bible, which combines Bible stories with graphic novel illustrations.
Older elementary and preteens can also read full-text Scripture alongside grown-ups. Encourage them to ask questions, reflect, and pray through the Bible with you. Make it a goal to read a book of the Bible together and discuss it!
Isaiah 55:11 tells us that the word of God will not return empty. It always has something to say to us about God and His love for us. The spiritual practice of reading the Bible is accessible to kids of all ages. It can be followed by studying Scripture, memorizing verses, and praying through the Word. But don’t feel pressure as parents to gain certain outcomes, like memorizing 10 verses or being able to name all the books in order. Those are important tools, but as your kids are young, focus on sharing your own love of the Bible with them. Pray that God would work through His word in their lives, and pray that your kids would grow in love and knowledge of Scripture. The Bible is not a book to be mastered, a test to be passed. It is a living letter, written on paper and in our hearts. It is a gift, a grace, and a way to shape your child’s heart toward the Lord.
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Cultivate a love of God’s Word with these reading plans from the Laugh and Grow Bible for Kids:
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Other Posts in This Series: