I was meditating on Psalm 78 yesterday and the first thing I noticed as I began was that the title of the Psalm is Tell the Coming Generation. That immediately struck a chord so as I read I tried to answer the questions:
What should we tell them?
How should we do it?
Why should we tell them?
This Psalm provides a great example of how to teach our children what God has done in the Scriptures and let those events reveal His character and love. I would encourage you to spend some time in Psalm 78 by yourself, and then with your children.
What should we tell them?
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. (verse 4)
How should we do it?
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. (verse 3) (the rest of the Psalm gives a great example of how to tell a story)
Why should we tell them?
So that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep his commandments. (verse 7)
May we shepherd our children with upright heart and guide them with a skillful hand (Psalm 78:72).
Scripture promises the following about itself:
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
With those promises in mind, I encourage you to sing Scripture over your children and even have it playing in the background as you go throughout your day. There are several groups that publish verses put to song. Because we have the promise that God’s Word will not return empty, why wouldn’t we want to let it go forth over our children on a regular basis? So grab some cds, turn the volume up, sing along and have faith that His Word will penetrate the hearts of our little ones.
Seeds Family Worship
Godprints – Scripture Memory Songs for kids (no site – available on ITunes)
Developing the discipline of setting aside time every day to spend in prayer,
study and meditation can be a difficult thing. Modeling that discipline daily
before our children can be even more difficult. And instilling a similar
discipline in your preschooler or elementary-aged child can seem nothing short
But teaching a child the importance of spending uninterrupted
time with God every day is very important. Beginning to establish the home as a
place where we can hear and speak to God in the quiet of our hearts is a
powerful thing. I want to encourage you to consider working on this discipline
with your children. Here are some tips:
- Model this practice. Show your child that it is important to you to spend
uninterrupted, quiet time with God. When your child sees you doing and enjoying
it, he will be more apt to emulate it.
- Start small. It is not realistic to assume that on day one your child will
sit still and quiet for any extended period of time. Set measurable, attainable
goals and work your way up. Ten minutes a day is an appropriate amount of time a preschooler can be expected to sit quietly.
- Give specific ideas of things for your child to do. Some ideas are: flip
through a picture Bible, draw pictures of Bible stories you’ve recently read
together, draw pictures of things you’re thankful for or praying for. Drawing,
looking at pictures or encouraging specific ways to think and pray are good
places to start.
- Talk about what you both learned, felt or experienced in your quiet times.
If you child knows he will be sharing his experience with you, he is more likely
to take it seriously.
- Call it a quiet time. Whether the practice is already established or is new,
make sure it looks and feels differently than normal self-play or “alone time.”
- Pray together before each day’s quiet time, setting the tone for your child
and committing your time to the Lord.
Entering into a time of quiet worship and study can change the atmosphere of a home and usher in countless opportunities for growth and discussion. Try not to be intimidated by the idea. Start small, be faithful, and trust the Lord to work in your heart and the heart
of your little one as you both set time aside to be with Him.
May the Lord bless you in your times with Him
Approach – Communicate the value of fellowship – Sunday mornings are wonderful opportunities for your children to be surrounded by people who love the Lord and love your children. In the corporate worship setting, your children see a godly community. They learn from your desire to reconnect with friends, pray together, laugh and share life.
Children are beginning, at a very early age, to understand and value using our gifts and time to build up the church. They are learning the value of attending worship every week – of recognizing the worth of receiving the teachings of church leaders, of spending time in song, prayer, confession and communion. They are seeing that this practice, this tradition, is not to be taken lightly or to be engaged in when convenient, but that it is something to partake of weekly.
When we worship we celebrate what the Lord has done in the past week, we celebrate with
expectation what he will do in the week ahead, and we proclaim to our children that this is a sacred time. Children will come to see Sunday worship not as a duty, but as a joy. They will understand it not as something obligatory, but as a necessary celebration and preparation in the midst of a life of distractions and obligations.
Attend – On the weeks that you serve, attend service and serve. Communicate to your children that both worship and service are equally important. It might initially be hard for your children to be in their class back-to-back, but during that time they are learning that sometimes we make sacrifices to serve the body. They are learning that our comfort or convenience is not as important as loving and serving the people in the church. They are learning that mom and dad think it important and necessary to take time to bless the church.
Arrive – Be on time! – Show your child that no part of the service is less important than another part. Children notice when you rush in after service has began and sneak into class. Likewise, they notice when you are on time, prepared and relaxed. They can see that worship as a whole is valuable and they can notice when something is lost in the rush of arriving late. You communicate your priorities and the value of something by the time you give to it. Show your child how valuable and important worship is by being present for the whole service.
Ask – Pray together in the car before service – asking God to teach you and your children new and beautiful things. This is a great opportunity to explain to your children why they go to their class while you go and worship with adults. Explain that your child needs to hear special words from God and play special games and do special crafts to help them learn to love God more. Explain that while your child is learning, you are in another room, singing special songs and hearing special words so that you can learn how to love God more also.
Every day, through the way you approach tasks, obligations, people and time, you communicate to your children the things that you value. You show that you value family through sharing meals, spending time together in the evening, playing together on the weekends. You show that you value the Lord through praying together, spending time in the Word and talking openly about spiritual things. Every time you walk into the doors of Providence Church, you are revealing to your children the ways you value worship.
You are your child’s primary teacher and the way they learn to love the Lord is through watching you do it. That is why it is necessary to approach worship in an honest, reverent manner.
Anticipate – Communicate an excitement, a hope and confidence in what the Lord will do during service. Communicate it through words, attitudes and actions. If the week has been hard, you communicate your dependence by leaving your hurt at the foot of the Cross. If the week has been fun and exciting, you communicate your praise by celebrating and rejoicing before the King. Your child may not sit with you throughout the service, but they observe your attitude before and after. They can hear your prayers. And they can certainly tell when Mom and Dad are not excited to go to church. What is your attitude before worship communicating to your children?
Only in the past couple of years have I begun to understand the power that comes when we pray the words of Scripture. They are authoritative, complete and beautiful.
Yesterday I came across a list of Scriptural blessings to pray for our children. I invite you to check out the link and pray these verses for your own little ones.
Pray for your children.
As you continue to settle back into your daily routine, take time to sit down with your children and reflect on the good things God has done in your family in the last year. If you have not already done so, take time over dinner or before bedtime to make a list using words or pictures, of some of the great things God did or taught you this year. Spend time praying and thanking God for the things on that list.
After that, take some time as a family to think through some things you want to see God do in your lives this year. Consider things within your home, opportunities within the church or community, and hopes you have for extended family or friends. Write down your prayers and goals for this year and spend some time praying over them and asking God for the things on your list.
At the end of your time together, remind you children that God is Good and that as a family you will trust Him to do whatever He wants to within your lives this year. Spend a few final minutes praising God through song or prayer for His power, provision and love.