Don’t Underestimate the Impact of Reading Scripture Aloud
When we started homeschooling our kids nearly three years ago, one of the first things we committed to doing as part of our day was reading through the Bible together as a family. Every school morning, we have breakfast as a family and then everyone grabs their Bible and we take turns reading through two chapters of scripture.
Since we do not read over the weekends and on Mondays (our co-op day), we have not made it through the Bible even one time yet. We finished the New Testament a couple of weeks ago and just finished Nehemiah today. There have been times along the way when I have wondered if the reading is worthwhile. Should we be doing more? Are our kids developing a love for the Word of God or do they see it as just another part of the school day that they have to endure?
As I have pondered these questions and prayed about them, God in his goodness has answered in sweet ways. One of those ways is in watching my oldest two make the decision to go on a missions trip to Ecuador this summer. In their applications, both of them stated that they are growing in their faith and want to serve the Lord. While I know that their growth comes from many different sources, I know that this emphasis on scripture in our family has set a foundation for their growth. Through the years as we have come upon difficult subjects, we have been able to have great conversation spurred on by our reading. We also use that time to discuss current events through a Biblical worldview.
Hard to believe that these sweet little ones are old enough to go on their first missions trip!!
When I look back on my own growing up years, I am reminded of the countless hours my family spent praying, kneeling by my parent’s bed. I told my Mom recently that I would often fall asleep as my parents droned on and on, but the truth is, those times were foundational for my own spiritual journey. I learned all those years ago the significance of prayer. I watched prayers get answered and I understood that prayer is meant to be continual and it is a discipline worth pursuing.
I know that my kids won’t always appreciate our scripture reading time, just as I didn’t always appreciate my family prayer times, but I know that God will use those times in powerful ways. My kids are already seeing that the Word of God is living and active. They have experienced the excitement of reading one portion of scripture and discovering that it explains another portion. They have been blessed by reading a passage in the morning and then hearing the same passage lifted up in song later in the day. They are seeing how scripture impacts their lives. Seeing their eyes light up when something that was previously confusing makes sense is one of my favorite things to see.
A few weeks ago, we were reading through Ezra, a book that details the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. One day, my youngest decided to draw a picture depicting what we had read about earlier in the day. She did this in the midst of my prayers and ponderings, unprompted by me (there ARE times when I have the kids art journal a particular verse as part of their response, but this time was completely on her own). She drew men on ladders working on the building, others working with tools and others with their backs to the workers, mocking and ridiculing the work being done.
To say I was amazed is an understatement. Her work was intricate, just like Ezra’s descriptions and I was blown away.
As parents, we don’t get to determine how God will use our faithfulness. We can’t make our children love the Bible and prayer. But we can show them OUR love for God’s Word and we can encourage them to respond to it. We can be intentional about reading the Bible with our kids and praying.
The main thing I have learned from this is that our efforts do not need to be elaborate for God to use them. In fact, sometimes it’s the consistent simplicity of our efforts that God will use the most. My kids are learning that spending time with God is a discipline that they should practice, because it is meaningful and it impacts their lives in powerful ways. Being faithful to God’s call on our lives, whether that means going to Ecuador or drawing a picture might mean ridicule from others who don’t understand. But I pray that this foundation that we are laying in our kids’ lives will support and guide them all of their days.
If you are wondering where to start with devotions with your kids or if you are feeling like what you are doing isn’t working, might I encourage you to just read scripture? It won’t always be easy (the list of names in Nehemiah alone is CRAZY!!) and sometimes the Bible will be bring up questions that you might not be prepared to answer (Mom, what does it mean when it says that Lot had sexual relations with his daughters?!).
But sometimes I think we make it more complicated than it needs to be. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness in His Word. We need to read it!