“Mom,” my oldest son whispered and nudged me.
He nodded to the screen in front of us. We were at church and the worship leader was reading from Philippians 2, a passage we had just finished memorizing together.
My youngest then looked up at the screen and noticed the familiar words. He turned to me, smiled, and started repeating it along with the congregation.
I once had a teacher tell me that a person can lose everything they own, but no one can take what they have learned. If we lost everything but still had God’s word in our heart, we’d have everything we need. That’s because God’s word isn’t just a book; it’s the source of all truth and wisdom. It tells us who we are and how we got here. It shows us our greatest problem and our greatest need. It reveals all that God has done for us through Christ and the only way to salvation. It tells us all we need to know to live for God in this fallen world. God’s word is food for our souls. Unlike any other book we read, it is active and alive, transforming us from the inside out. And it’s our source of comfort and peace in a dark and confusing world.
As believers, we desire for our children to know, love, believe, and live out God’s word in their lives. While it is the job of the Spirit to apply the word to our children’s heart, we have a duty to teach our children God’s word (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Ways to Teach Children Scripture
1. Read it Yourself: We can’t teach our children what isn’t first in our own hearts. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 first says that God’s word is to be upon our own hearts and then it tells us to instruct our children in the word. We teach them out of the overflow of our hearts.
2. Read Together: Read God’s word together as a family each day. Pick a book of the Bible and read through it one chapter at a time. Discuss what you’ve read, what it means, and what it teaches about God. As your children get older, do a Bible study together, one that takes you through a passage verse by verse.
3. Encourage them to read it on their own: Provide your children copies of their own Bibles. Discuss with them a good time and place where they can read to themselves each day. Check in with them and ask them what they’ve read and what they learned. Looking for a good Bible for your children? Check out the great selection at Crossway. A wonderful family devotional that encourages children to read God’s word on their own is God’s Word by Sally Michael.
4. Memorize Scripture together: For younger children, start with one verse. As they get older, children can memorize several verses at once and then entire chapters. Post the verse where everyone can see it and practice it each day. Listening to music is a great way to learn Scripture. If you can’t find a song already written for the verse being memorized, make up your own, singing the words to a tune you already know. Writing out a verse also aids in learning. For some verses, you can find printable pages with the verse written in cursive or manuscript for a child to trace over and then copy. Another way to learn a verse is to write it out on 3×5 cards with a few words on each card. Mix up the stack of cards and have your child put them in order.
5. Apply Scripture to all of life: Apply God’s word to all of life, discussing it with your child all throughout the day. When you gaze at the stars in the sky together, teach them Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” When your child is teased by a friend, read them the story of Peter and Jesus and talk about how Jesus was rejected for our sakes. The opportunities to talk about God’s word are endless.
6. Pray for God to work: Last but never least, pray for God to apply his word to your children’s heart. Pray for the word to convict, instruct, and guide their heart. Pray that they would grow in their love for God the more they read. And pray that like Jeremiah, they would love and delight in God’s word, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts” (15:16).