Out of the Fire
Practical Insights for the Passionate Christian
Lee Ann Rubsam
Our family-friendly Boomer humor section:
Teaching Little Children to Love God
It is my firm belief that we need to begin teaching our children to love God from the very moment of their birth. There are all sorts of opportunities to do this in the small, everyday activities we enjoy together.
Babies like music. What better way to familiarize them with Jesus, than to sing simple songs about Him? I have noticed that our babies, even in their earliest weeks, have quieted their sobbing, as they have listened to Mommy singing, Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, or I Am Jesus' Little Lamb. The very presence of the Holy Spirit moves in to comfort these little ones, as we sing about the Savior. Diaper changing time is a wonderful opportunity to sing and talk about the Lord. After my husband has prayed for our little ones at bedtime, we have played soft, soothing Christian music for them to go to sleep by. Michael Card's lullaby album, Sleep Sound in Jesus, has been a favorite.
I frequently walk back and forth through the house while having my personal prayer time, and when our children were infants, they would often go with me. Riding on my hip, baby would see and hear Mommy praising the Lord. She would watch and listen intently, already learning about talking with God. I did this as long as I could comfortably carry them. At nine months, our younger daughter would wiggle with delight when I asked, "Would you like to pray with Mommy?"
At about six months, I would begin helping baby pray. I would tell her to pray in her heart while Mommy said the words. I said a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for her, as though she were doing the praying. I asked for blessings and protection for her. Our girls enjoyed this, and it definitely taught them the pattern of prayer. We also helped our children thank God for their food, as soon as they started eating solids.
We have several pictures of Jesus around the house, which we have pointed out to our babies, as we have told them the gospel story. We explained that Jesus loves them and gives us everything we need. We told them that God made them and gave them to us as special blessings. How could a little child not love the Lord after hearing Him connected with so many good things?
When Sunday and Wednesday came, we would tell our babies, "We're going to church today! Won't that be fun? We get to worship Jesus with all the other people who love Him! We like our church so much!" With our second child, we kept her with us during the service, rather than putting her in the nursery. This has been such a blessing for us as a family. Little ones can learn quite early to behave well in church, and they absorb so much from the worship.
By the time our children were a little over a year old, I would read short children's Bible stories to them. We have also read directly from the Bible to them from the time they were around eighteen months old. Our older daughter was usually good about sitting and listening, but our younger girl found this hard to do, so we sometimes let her color quietly while we read.
It is important to help our children gradually grow into being able to pray and read their Bibles independently. We start by praying for them, then encourage them to say some of the prayer themselves, giving hints and ideas about how to pray, until eventually they are capable of having a private prayer and Bible study time of their own. Both of our children started praying without our help when they were about nine years old. However, even after children can pray independently, it is still important to pray and read the Bible together as a family.
My husband and I prefer to use the King James Version of the Bible. We read this translation when we have family Bible time together, when we study the Bible for school, and when we memorize. I feel that it is important for us to familiarize our children with the King James language and for them to memorize the verses in this form, which is still used by many millions of people in the English speaking world. KJV quotations and references are abundant in classic literature, and the child who is not intimidated by King James English will be have an excellent vocabulary and the ability to read with ease the challenging literary works of the past. We have taken the time to explain archaic words and expressions, so that they will have a better understanding of the King James. However, when our children expressed a desire to use a more modern translation for their personal Bible reading, we did not insist that they stick with the King James. After a little research and discussion, we settled on the New King James Version, because of its readability and reputation for accuracy.
When our younger daughter first began to read, she loved the Living Bible paraphrase. Although it is not always the most accurate rendering, it is much more accurate than most children's Bible storybooks, and has a more flowing reading style as well. If we had it to do over again, we would dispense with children's Bibles entirely, and just use the Living Bible paraphrase, or its successor, the New Living Translation for those preschool and early reading years.
I would like to encourage all mothers and fathers to begin teaching their children to love Jesus right now, no matter what their age. It is never too late, never too early. Even the littlest ones can love Jesus, and we should never assume that they are too young to learn about Him.
© Copyright 2004 by Lee Ann Rubsam. All rights reserved.