This month I wanted to take a few minutes to share something that has been on my heart and might be an encouragement to you—my daily morning Bible time with my children.
I wonder if this verse isn’t one of the most widely quoted verses in homeschooling circles. “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9). It so clearly presents a father’s need to diligently instruct his children in the Word of God everyday. Part of this instruction will be helping our children learn to read the Word, understand it, and apply it to their lives. I believe this is achieved through leading my children to have a personal time every day for Bible reading and prayer.
In addition to our evening family Bible time, we have a time of individual reading of the Word and personal prayer every morning. Weekday mornings, my children and I gather together in the living room to individually read our Bibles. I say weekdays because the children have the option of sleeping in an hour on Saturdays and Sundays if they were up later the previous evening and need more sleep. On those days when they sleep in, I will be finished with my Bible time as they are gathering for theirs.
I dearly love the early morning hours with my children and look forward to them when I get up. The children are awakened by their own alarm clocks based on how much time they need to get up, dressed, and be in the living room at the appointed time. Some will gather a few minutes early to visit until it is time to start our Bible reading at 5:45 a.m. Then we each read our Bibles to ourselves for a half hour. At 6:15, we close our Bibles, kneel, and pray silently for fifteen minutes until 6:30 a.m. At that time, Teri and I leave to walk, and the children begin their responsibilities for the day.
There is something special about being together with my children and watching them read their Bibles. I like being physically close to them even though we spread out around the living room. There were a number of years when I had one of the younger children snuggled up beside me, and that was a treat. However, even now just being in the same room while we fellowship with the Lord Jesus is precious to me.
There is something about those early morning hours that adds a sense of peace to our Bible reading. At that time, we don’t hear cars, lawn mowers, or children outside playing. It is just my family gathered with their Bibles and the occasional turning of a page or the clicking of a pen to write a note. It is a wonderfully peaceful setting.
I believe another benefit of our personal Bible time in one room is that my children observe me spending time in the Word. Often, if Dad is reading his Bible, he does it alone before the children are up, in his study, or another room where they never see him. While they may know that he puts a priority on his personal time in the Word, seeing it in action will be an even more powerful testimony.
On occasion, one of the children will ask a quick question. Since it disturbs others’ reading, it isn’t often, but it does provide the opportunity to answer the question while it is fresh on their heart. Not only does it clear the issue for them, but there are others who might benefit as well. I like it because it shows me they are thinking about what they are reading.
Have you noticed at a mealtime when something is really tasty someone might exclaim, “Mom, this is great!” In a similar fashion, it excites my heart when one of the children finds a verse that reveals new truth, and in his enthusiasm he has to share it with us. I love for the other children to see that excitement and hear the discovery as well.
A benefit of being together is that it adds accountability. Occasionally there have been times when due to a late night, one or more of us was extra sleepy. If we were reading our Bibles in different rooms, it wouldn’t be too difficult to drift off to sleep. However, when we are together, the sound of sleep breathing in a very quiet living room is pretty distinguishable and doesn’t go on for long. A simple clearing of the throat, dropping of a shoe on the floor, or the snickers going around the room is all that is needed for the sleepy head to find new energy to stay awake.
There is also the blessing of drawing my family into closer fellowship due to the “camaraderie” of doing something together. I can’t explain it, but it just works out that way. In a time when everything in our world tries to separate the family and pull hearts away, I want all I can find that will bring the hearts of my children toward each other and the Lord Jesus.
Beginning when my children can read fairly well on their own, usually around eight years of age, I have them join us in the living room for personal Bible time. When the children are younger, they are still asleep when we have our Bible time. That means getting up for Bible time is a looked-forward-to stage in their lives because it represents, in their minds, a transition from being one of the little children to becoming one of the big ones. I try to structure the evening time so that the children can choose to go to bed at times that will allow them to get the amount of sleep they need each night and be up for early morning Bible time. After the child has consistently had his personal Bible time for six months, I purchase him a new study Bible and cover.
Through my interactions with Christians who have struggled or are struggling, it has become obvious that without a daily time in the Word, they are rudderless. They lack the spiritual grounding that would direct them through the storms of life. By giving my children the discipline of daily time in the Word, I am handing them the tools they need for spiritual growth and stability.
I’m not saying if you have individual Bible times in different rooms, you are doing something wrong. The fact that you are having Bible time is wonderful. However, since we have found such blessings from being together, I thought it might encourage you to try it as well. Even if everyone in your family already has his own personal time of Bible reading, you may want to start being together in the same room for it and see if you experience the blessings like our family has gained.