Starting the spiritual journey with your child is one of the most important things parents must do for their children.
When our son was about two months old we visited my parents. He was the first baby in our family in a long time and of course, my mom couldn’t get enough of him. She stayed with him the whole time.
At night, after he had been fed, I read his Bible to him, sang a praise song and prayed for him. My mom was listening to this and loving every moment of it. I don’t know at what age she started reading and praying for me and my younger brother but it is one of my earliest memories.
The biggest gift
Afterwards, we visited a bit. She then commented that the biggest gift a parent can give their child is to hear and know God’s voice. I have been praying this for our son ever since then.
Faith without action
But, as we read in the book of James, faith without action is dead. So how do we go about starting the spiritual journey?
“That they may know You…”
We read in John 17:3 that Jesus prays, “this is eternal life, that they may know You…”. It is only possible to know someone’s voice if one knows them. To get to know God then we have to read our Bibles. Daily. Even more than once a day. We have to know God’s Word so well that it spills over in all areas of our lives. I am not just talking about knowing it off by heart. This is so much more than a habit. I am talking about making God’s Word an integral part of your whole being.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not talking of being so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good. This is more like a good cup of coffee. You have hot water and you have coffee beans. Percolate the water over the coffee beans and they give off their flavor to the water. So much so that we no longer talk of the water as water. We now call it coffee.
It is not about knowing of God like I know of Winston Churchill. It is about knowing God like I know my spouse or my child or my best friend or even better yet, like I know myself. The only way that I can get to know Him like that is by spending time in His Word for myself. You will never intimately get to know God by hearing what others say about Him. It is something you have to do for yourself.
Your children’s spiritual journey starts with seeing and hearing you read the Bible. For yourself and for them. Daily. It grows as they hear you speak about the things of God and praying. When they hear you singing songs to God while you are working in the kitchen. When they hear you thanking God for the things around you. When they hear you praying for wisdom when you don’t know how to do something.
Remember the apostle Paul’s words, “imitate me as I imitate Christ”? We do not need to tell children that. They just do it anyway. You will see it in small children as they mimic small behaviors or repeat one of your favorite sayings. It can be so cute! You will hear it in older children when they start spouting your ideas, especially about politics.
Spend time together in the Word
If a person then gets to know God by spending time in His Word, you have to spend time in God’s Word with your child. You don’t send your 2 or 3 year old out to the shops on their own. Don’t expect them to start this journey on their own. Read the Bible for them and later on with them.
We started with simple children’s Bibles and when our son went to school, he received his first proper Bible. Initially we only read the story parts. Together we have read through all the story parts many times. Gradually we added more and now, at age 12, we are reading nearly everything.
Take them to church
Take them to church. There is a very good reason why the Bible says we should not neglect the gathering of the saints. Jesus said that whenever two or three are gathered in His Name, He will be there. It should be a place where your child experiences God’s love and fellowship.
What about teenagers?
What if your children are teenagers and you never started them on this journey? Of course, it is easier to start when they are young but it is never too late. Start on your own spiritual journey and let them see the fruit of it in your life. Have family devotions in the evening or in the morning. Take them to church. Sow the seeds.
There is a beautiful promise in the book of Isaiah 55.
“Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG