Devotions for Children — Is it Necessary?

Devotions for Children – Are They Really Necessary?

Proverbs 1:8 and 6:20 say “don’t forsake your mother’s teaching.”  This makes it clear that we, as mothers, do have an assignment from God to teach OUR children.  Our assignment isn’t to teach the children at church, or to teach the women at church.  Our assignment isn’t to teach our friends or neighbors, but to teach OUR children.  While teaching the other people isn’t bad, if we begin to be more diligent in teaching others, or if we expend so much energy on other people that we have nothing left  for our children, then we are wrong.  We are out of balance and we are out of God’s will.

Let’s look a little further on this issue.  Prov. 31 is an entire chapter about the teachings which King Lemuel received from his mother.  There is so much in this one chapter that it’s obvious she didn’t teach him these things in just a few short sessions, but she was diligent in teaching him.

We are told in I Sam. 15:22 that to obey is better than sacrifice.  We have seen that we are commanded to teach our children.  If we fall into the trap of teaching many other people, but failing to diligently teach our children, we may be sacrificing, but we are not obeying.

Jochebed (mother of Moses) only had him for about three years before he was taken to live in a palace filled with pagans, yet she had given Moses enough instructions in righteousness in those early years to enable him to take a strong stand for the Lord many years later.   He had some really tough choices to make, yet he chose to make the right choices, in spite of what it cost him personally (prestige, honor, wealth, a life of leisure).  I would venture to say that Jochebed was also diligent in praying for Moses every day.

Josiah was only eight years old when he became king.  II Kings 22,23 tell us that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, not turning aside to the left or right.  How did he know at eight years of age what was right?  His mother, Jedidah, was the one who instructed him in what was right in the sight of the Lord.  In chapter 21, it mentions Amon, who was Josiah’s father, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.  Josiah burned all of the items made for Baal, Asherah and the starry host.  He slaughtered the pagan priests, burned the Asherah pole, smashed the altars, and he also set the plans in motion to repair the temple of the Lord.  Josiah was told by a prophet that God’s judgment was going to fall upon Israel, but because of his responsive heart and his weeping on behalf of the sins of his people, God promised him that he wouldn’t live to see the destruction which was to come upon Israel.

Hannah only had Samuel for about three years before sending him to live with Eli, the priest.  Eli had two sons who were living ungodly and evil lives, yet she entrusted Samuel to Eli’s care.  She planted God’s Word into Samuel in those formative years, and he became a prophet, priest, and leader who was used by God in a mighty way.  I think it’s interesting to note that Eli’s sons (Hophni and Phinehas) died in battle at the same time when the ark was captured.  Eli died when he heard this news.  Phinehas’s wife delivered her baby, only to name him Ichabod because God’s glory had departed.  YET, God’s glory had NOT departed from Samuel.

Mary taught Jesus so well that when He was only twelve years old, He was amazing the teachers and scholars in the temple with His teaching and understanding of the Word.

For those of us who haven’t been diligent in training our children in the ways of the Lord, we must remember that something is better than nothing.  We must start somewhere.  It doesn’t have to be hour long devotions.  That isn’t practical to small children.  We also can’t just leave the training up to Sunday school teachers.  Think about it – if you only attend church on Sunday morning, then never pick up the Word the rest of week, how much about God are you going to learn?  It’s the same with children.  We must teach them diligently.  Ask God to show you practical ways to turn every day things into times of teaching.

I will close with some examples of how we can put this into practice.

1.   When Rachel and I would go shopping, we would look at clothes, and I would comment to her when I saw something that wasn’t modest.  I would explain why modestly is important.  For several years now, she is pointing out clothing to me and telling me that it isn’t modest.

2.   Before going to garage sales, ask God to help you find specific items, and name a specific price range for the item.  Pray this with the children.  Then, when you find the items, you can point out how God answered your prayer.  I can’t tell you how many times we have done this.  It is an exciting time for us, just waiting to see God’s answer.

3.   As you’re outside, enjoying nature, talk about how God is a God of order.   He made an apple seed to grow into an apple tree.  An apple tree will never grow a peach.  He made rabbits to have rabbits, and a rabbit will never have a squirrel, etc.  This dispels the erroneous teaching which they will get in public schools about evolution.

4.   Teach them about God’s blessing.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  I used a rope, forming it into a circle.  I had Rachel stand in the middle of the circle.  Then I told her that as long as she obeyed and did what God wanted her to do, she had His blessing and protection upon her.  But if she disobeyed mommy, etc., she was outside of the circle.  To get back in the circle, she must confess her sin and repent.  Another way to do this one is by using an umbrella.

5.   When you are writing out the tithing check, talk to your children about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

6.   Rachel had been going through a spell where she either didn’t do what I said until I said it three or four times, or else she would argue with me about doing it.  I quickly used the scripture about how obeying is better than sacrifice.  I pointed out to her that while it was very good of her to want to raise money for her “buddy barrel” for missions, it is far more important for her to obey.  Every time she starts to disobey or argue with me, she is hearing that verse.

7.   If you know someone who is pregnant (maybe even you!), talk about Psalm 139.  Explain to them how God knows this baby and even sees the baby while it is still unseen by us.  Get a book that shows the stages of the baby’s growth and talk about what God is doing to the baby at those different stages.

8.   When dealing with children who like to grumble, tell them that God wants them to do all things without grumbling so that they will shine like the stars of the universe.  (Phil. 2:14-15)  Tell them that you like to see them shine too!

9.   To teach them about our words, use bubbles.  Go outside and let them chase the bubbles as you blow on the wand.  After about 5 minutes, tell them to go get all of the bubbles and bring them back.  When they can’t do it, you tell them how it’s the same with the words from our mouths.  Once we say something, we can’t take it back.  We can say that we are sorry, but it would be better not to have said it at all.  Another way to do this lesson is by letting them squeeze a tube of toothpaste onto a paper plate.  You then tell them to put all of the toothpaste back into the tube.  (You might even want to offer $10 to any of them who can do it!)  Then you teach them about their words.

A good reference for other ways to teach your children in fun ways are the Family Night Tool Chest resources from Focus on the Family.

If you can’t afford to purchase them, check with your local library to see if they might have them.

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

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