5 Ways to Help Your Family Read the Bible Together All Year Long
January 16, 2020 • Parenting • By Joanna Teigen
You know the power of God’s Word in your life. In its pages, you’ve found strength when you’re tired. Peace when you’re stressed or frustrated. Wisdom that cut through doubt and confusion. Hope in despair and comfort for your pain. The Scriptures revealed the good news of salvation and life that never ends. As a parent, you’re eager for your child to know the same truth and love you’ve found in God’s Word. You want to help your family read the Bible today and all year through.
Yet for all your hopes and good intentions, it can feel like an impossible task to read the Bible as a family. You’ve tried, but kids can be restless. They interrupt. They bicker and joke and mess around. The moment you sit down, they’re thirsty or have to use the bathroom. Your dream of meaningful devotional time gives way to frustration. If you grit your teeth and continue, those moments feel negative or disappointing. If you quit, you feel guilty. How can you share the Bible with your kids on a regular basis?
1. Make a plan
Grab a tool that takes the work out of planning your reading each day. With a simple, predictable schedule you’ll be ready to go without any prep from day to day. For example, The Navigators offer a 5x5x5 Reading Plan to help you read the New Testament in just five minutes a day, five days per week. Or, reading daily through a psalm or chapter of Proverbs will carry you through half the year.
To introduce your kids to stories from across the whole Bible, download the Bible Stories Reading Plan created by Danny Zacharias.
If you want the freedom to read on the go, this Bible app for kids lets you take it with you.
No matter what kind of resource you choose, let it take away the pressure to create a plan from scratch. Your plan will free you up to focus on the Word and each other.
2. Adjust your expectations
For me, I created an ideal of family devotions in my mind. I pictured quiet, smiling children sitting at my husband’s knee with their hands folded in their laps. We’d discuss deep questions and end with prayer, freshly-baked cookies, and hugs. Yeah, right!
We quickly learned that kids need movement. We allowed building blocks, drawing and coloring, and sitting upside-down on the couch during our time together. If little hands were busy, we found they listened more closely. It took more energy and focus to sit still than to play quietly and listen.
If too many voices competed for attention, we’d take turns passing a toy around–whoever held the toy had the floor. We’d also invite the kids to help with the reading and prayers so they felt a sense of ownership over our time together.
Once we adjusted our expectations and let our kids be kids, our time together became more relaxed and fruitful.
3. Find a routine
You know your family’s rhythm each week. Take a look at the flow to find which moments in the day work well for you to read the Bible together. Your early risers may connect best if you read during breakfast. You might include the Bible into your bedtime or nap routine.
For us, we tagged it on to our evening meal since we were already gathered together in one place. In today’s season with a teen and grown kids who study on their own, we share the Word with our grade-schooler before he falls asleep at night. The important part is to create a predictable routine so the scriptures are woven into the fabric of your days. Consistency offers a great advantage as you help your family read the Bible.
4. Give grace
Life happens. Seasons change. If a reading plan isn’t working, try another one on for size. Be ready to shift along with the ages and stages of your family. If you miss a day (or four), just pick up the Word and keep going. (True confession–we had the flu in December, so we’re still working our way through our Advent devo!)
Forgive your kids for off days when they’ve forgotten a big school project or just won’t cooperate. Forgive yourself for fatigue and distractions that derail your time together. Each day offers a fresh opportunity to hear God’s voice in your home.
Bad news–the enemy doesn’t want your family to read the Bible together. He’ll stir up conflict and throw up every kind of barrier to keep you apart. Good news–God is bigger! Pray for God’s help to draw together and listen to what he has to say. Ask for courage to try again and again, even if it’s difficult. Pray for the Spirit to make the Word alive to your family, so you’ll hear it speak right into your hearts and circumstances.
Look to God for wisdom, faithfulness, and transformation as you take hold of the Bible together.
God promises great rewards if we engage with his Word as a family. As parents, we’ll know the joy of obeying God’s call to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4)
We’ll learn “the endurance taught in the Scriptures” and gain “the encouragement they provide,” giving us hope. (Romans 15:4)
In this new year, help your family read the Bible so you can receive every gift God has in store.