Early in our child training years, we started a habit of regular Bible reading and teaching with our children. Was it an easy routine to keep? No. The routine of teaching children is never convenient, but nothing worth having is. We had plenty of stops and starts and many opportunities to just chuck the whole thing. I don’t know which was the greater accomplishment: The facts we taught our kids or the lesson to never give up as we kept coming back to the plan of reading and praying together.
One of the practical consequences of a regular Bible reading habit as a family was that the Scriptures became our greatest ally in training our children. Because we went to God as the “last word” in our actions and attitudes, it lessened the power struggle between parents and children, us vs. them. We continually reminded our children, “We are all on the same team. We all desire to follow God’s pattern for our lives, individually and corporately.” Our family Bible reading time elevated God’s Word to a place of prominence, not just because of the time spent in it, but because our kids saw the value that Mom and Dad placed on being in the Scriptures.
One reason we struggle with keeping the Bible reading habit going is because, quite frankly, we see it as “optional”, something we will get to when we have the time. It does not hang over our head like a school or work assignment. However, when we let other activities of life squeeze this out, our loud and clear message to our children is that reading the Bible together is not that important. What we communicate to our family, whether we intend to or not, is that these other things that are squeezing it out are more important. Is that the message we want to send to our family?
This doesn’t have to become a legalistic burden of “every day or we are failing parents.” We need to give ourselves the same grace that we give to others. But it does need to be regular enough so that our children know it is an important part of our family identity. This activity is a vital part of “this is who we are.”