“Daddy, listen to what I learned about Jesus while reading this morning.”
“While I was praying this morning Daddy, I thought...”
As a father, those are the statements I long to hear from my children: it will demonstrate they are not only growing in knowledge and love for Jesus, but that they are seeking out more knowledge and a deeper relationship with Him.
My children receive a good amount of formal theological instruction. In addition to the theology books they study as part of their schooling (Studying God’s Word, Christian Liberty Press), we read a chapter of the Bible or go over catechism questions before meals and they hear two sermons on most Sundays. If that weren’t enough, this year (after years of Awana) we are participating in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). So, I am generally satisfied with the amount of Bible and theological knowledge they receive.
As they age, my larger concern is that they learn to be self-feeding Christians. That is to say, I want them to be Christians who are able to study God’s word for themselves and glean truth from it. Even more importantly, they should be Christians who have a vibrant prayer life and a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a far greater challenge and one that has stymied us for some time. We have tried a number of different approaches with limited success. Of course, as they get older, the approach needs to change as well.
Our most recent effort is possible because of my modified schedule: we meet by the fireplace at 7:30 each morning. After a brief prayer, we silently read the passage I have selected for that morning. Anyone who is finished before the allotted time is encouraged to re-read the passage slowly and look for any words, phrases, or truths that stand out to them and to reflect upon them. We then briefly discuss the passage together and pray silently for five minutes about the concerns of the day, our friends and God’s glory.
It is a new approach for us and is only possible now that the children can read, but so far they seem to be enthusiastic about it and are getting more and more from it. In fact, we recently were planning a trip to Toronto that would see us leaving 7:30. So concerned was Emily about missing our prayer time that she began suggesting ways in which we could modify our schedule to accommodate it. Now that’s the kind of encouragement a father needs!