“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”
I love to joke around with little kids by asking them ridiculous questions and listen to their responses. Sometimes when a little one is shy, I’ll respond with shock when they talk and tease them playfully, “Wow you can talk? Who taught you to talk?” Often, they’ll respond with some answer like, “My mom.” The truth is while it may be hard to pinpoint who exactly taught us things like talking or walking, almost everything we know how to do, we learned from somewhere. This is actually the way that God designed it. One generation is to pass knowledge and wisdom down to the next generation.
Psalm 145:4 declares, “One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.” This elaborates on what was instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Love for God and love for his commands are both caught and taught. The heart of faith is passed down through praise, but the content of faith is passed down through instruction. So what are some practical ways that parents, grandparents, and the broader spiritual family “impress” a love for God onto the hearts of our children?
- Pray audibly over your children. From the very earliest days, let your children hear your prayers to God on their behalf.
- Play and sing Christian music and Scripture to them. When our kids were little, we played an album of Scripture passages set to soft music in their rooms. Let the Scriptures be associated with comfort and peace in their lives.
- Read good Christian storybooks to them. Books like the Jesus Storybook Bible, and the Big Picture Story Bible contain gospel truths in simple language with bold, colorful pictures.
- Bring them to church. Let meeting with God’s people be part of their earliest memories.
- Start training them to be still listen to God’s Word. Listening is a learned behavior. Have them sit still and listen for a minute at a time and then increase it. It’s ok to “practice church” at home.
- Memorize Scripture and catechisms. We used My 1st Book of Questions and Answers by Carine MacKenzie, but the New City Catechism our church uses has a free app and versions for kids and adults. Kids have incredible memories at this age—take full advantage. At this age you are helping create little hooks in their brains that more critical ideas will hang on later.