When Anna and Patrick were small, three and four, Patricia and I decided that we would say a scripture before each meal. Our goal was to begin to memorize scriptures together as a family. If we had begun with something short like “God is love” we might have had success right away. But not us, oh no, we had to start with the 23rd Psalm. We said it. They watched. We continued to say it at each meal. We encouraged them to say it with us. They stared at us like two little owlets. But no words came out of their mouths.
After the third week, we became discouraged and wondered if the effort was worth it. Then one day, Anna and Patrick were playing at her little table in her bedroom. Before eating their make-believe meal, they began to quote the 23rd Psalm, each one supplying what the other did not remember. Patricia overheard them and called me to listen. I arrived just as they were finishing.
At that moment we agreed to keep this up and build this into our family mealtime: say a scripture, then the blessing. It was an easy way to add God’s word into our schedule, an easy way to acknowledge that we belong to Him.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:7
A good rule of thumb for interpreting scripture is that we take scriptures that are clear in order to explain those that are not so clear. Deut. 6:7 is a clear scripture on teaching children, on impressing God’s truth on them. Intentionally talk about God’s ways throughout the day. After all, God is with us throughout the day, in our goings and comings. Let’s acknowledge him at all times.
Isaiah 28: 9-10 asks this question, “Are you trying to teach us like we are children. . . here a little, there a little?” This question repeats the theme: Teach children along the way, little by little. Truly, we all learn better in small bites than in large doses. As we learn, it is constantly reinforced and stays with us longer.
This is a life-with-God approach, simply recognizing that He is Emanuel, God with us. Jesus came to save us from our sins and also to give us His Spirit who would dwell in us, leading us and enabling us. A day that includes God might be like this:
Wake them with a song
Read a short scripture at breakfast
Pray the blessing
Listen to a song on the way to school
After school, discuss the day (pray about any difficulties)
Say the memory scripture at supper as a family
Pray over the meal
A bedtime story (or read Proverbs)
Maybe a soft song as they go to sleep
These little reminders throughout the day provoke questions and discussions that allow you to sow truth into your little ones. The challenge is to adapt the idea for your family and your children based on their ages and activities.
Pray about it, look at your routines, include the Lord here a little, there a little. He helps all of us raise our children. He is with us in the thick of things if we ask.
He awaits the open door.