Last month we saw the importance of the family altar. We saw that having a specific time when we gather together as a family to worship and pray together must never be neglected. The family altar – the time a family dedicates to fellowshipping in God’s presence together – is fundamental and must be maintained at all costs.
This month we shall dwell on practical tips on how to make this time both impactful and beneficial no matter the age of the child. Parents must learn that it is important that the family altar is a time the whole family can participate in and understand based on their age.
- When they are babies and toddlers get a good bible-story bible that is simple, colourful with lots of pictures, then read together each night.
- Once they are of school age, and are beginning to learn to read, make them tell you what might be happening in the story by looking at the pictures before you read the story to them. Also, let them read words they can sound out. This way they will not only be reading the bible but also practising their letters, sounds and reading. This will cultivate a love for reading, a win, win if I must say so.
- As their reading progresses, move on to using a daily devotional for children and the whole family. Use one that is interactive with questions and interesting stories that will engage their minds. While you may favour a certain translation of the Bible, it can be helpful to incorporate an easier-to-read translation for your children (such as the NIV, NIRV).
- As they become tweenagers, ensure everyone takes turns reading passages from the bible daily. Once they have read, take time to explain the meaning of these passages. Also, show them how to use things like footnotes, maps and the concordance.
- When they become teenagers let them read portions of the bible and explain what it means and correct them if they are wrong. In this way, they learn to rightfully divide the word of truth. In addition, as a family, memorise bible passages and chapters, this way everyone will hide God’s words in their hearts. As they progress through adolescence, include a plan of reading the whole bible. Start off by reading the gospel of John, then all of the gospels, the whole new testament, the Psalms and finally the old testament.
Family devotions are a great time for children to discuss, ask questions and explore hard-to-grasp concepts. Encourage your children to open up about their thoughts and questions. If you don’t know how to answer a question it’s okay and be honest about it, tell your child that you’ll look for the answer. Follow up by doing your own research or by talking to your pastor.
Following this strategy from birth into adulthood, ensures that from an early age the importance of spending time daily in the word and prayer is understood and practised. Remember this can only happen when it is intentional.