Munching on peanut butter toast, my five year old watches me read my Bible. He brushes away a milk mustache and asks, “Mom, can you read the real story about Daniel and the lions’ den?” I briefly weigh which is more important – my own study or his – and flip to the story of Daniel.
As a mom who wrestles with how to feed my kids faith, I want to know how I can lead them into their own faith without ‘forcing it down their throat’. How can I pour God’s word into them without it turning into resentment later?
As I continue to look for ways to pour God’s word and love into our kids, I find a need to stop and consider what we are already doing.
It’s important to me that our prayers do not become mantras, but are real-time and applicable; about things the kids care about too. ‘Thank you Jesus, for food every day and warm beds to sleep in. Thank you that we could swing from the chandelier today – that was really fun!”
At bedtime, I pray with each child, then for them. I thank God for making them special, that he has a plan for them, and then list specific things I’m thankful about. Ie) ‘Thank you, Lord, for making our son so handsome, strong, helpful, kind, funny….’ My son smiles as he overhears me talking to God about him. Love it.
2. Read Bible stories
They may have been introduced to these stories through Sunday School or Veggie Tales. Wherever it was, my kids now love to hear about Daniel and the Lions’ Den, Samson, Jonah and the Big Fish, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. Sometimes we read from kids’ books, usually right out of the Bible. (Usually during my own Bible study time -they always want to do what we’re doing, eh?)
3. Church Stuff
Attending and serving in Sunday school, church, Mom’s groups and Bible studies provide a sense of community. It shows our kids what it means to be part of a faith family.
4. Live It
They see and hear me living my faith. As they watch me struggle, celebrate, sing, dance, cry, pray, help, serve ... it becomes real life for them too. They see my passion for Jesus and become interested.
I let them hear me pray, talk with others about God and faith, and they hear how I speak to and about others… and them.
Their choice between faith or resentment will likely be made based on how real my own faith is.
I have no long term results to point to, but so far this 3 and 4 year old have a history of requesting Bible stories, initiating conversations about how great God is. They’re excited about Sunday school, and are familiar with God’s presence in our family. One morning my son crawled into bed with me and said, “Mom, do you know that God is powerful? He is so mighty.”
I can’t give my children faith – that is between them and God. But I can pour God’s word into them and deliberately model my faith for them. And I can pray – that they’ll be receptive, strong in faith, and love Jesus with all their hearts. The rest is in God’s capable hands.