The purpose of having a personal daily devotional time (or Quiet Time) with God is to draw close to him, in the sense of visiting with your friend every day. It is a time to hear from Him fresh every day so that you can have His Words and His ways close to you as you go through your day. Of course, God is with us all day and all we need to do is call out and He will answer, but committing a small portion of our day to focusing on our friendship with Jesus will build a stronger friendship.
This is what we need to pass onto our children.
Little kids understand God far more than we often give them credit for. After all, they understand God; unseen and yet loving – that is a very abstract kind of thought. It is at this stage that we start introducing the concept of a personal relationship, of daily time spent reading and talking to God. (It is for this reason that I really don’t like putting an age on this – when your little one is developing this heart for God is a good time to begin).
A Daily Quiet Time for Kids
Our early “Quiet Times” goes like this
- We read a Bible Story (Sometimes praying first asking God to open our ears/heart)
- The child gives me an oral narration (retelling of what they heard) which leads into discussion
- We discuss what personal lesson they can learn from that story.
- We write or draw in their “God Book” (aka journal)
- We close in prayer, always asking the Holy Spirit for help with this lesson for the day.
It is a good time to make mention that our children need to know that though we call these sections of the Bible, “Bible Stories” they are true and we can believe all that the Bible says as true.
As they grew older some of our kids liked a Kids Devotional book. We would read the reference Scripture first and often discuss that in the same way we used to discuss a Bible story passage. If there was time we would move onto reading the devotional story which we would also discuss.
You may prefer though to continue to read straight out of the Bible. Choose a theme, such as Beatitudes, or Parables, or Proverbs etc, and read a short section each day, continue to discuss, apply and pray about the Word of God.
When the child is able to we add a journal to our Quiet Time. In this they would either draw or write – depending on their ability and interest. They can draw or summarise to help them remember what we talked about, they can draw or write a prayer or prayer list. As they grew older they also would write out memory verses and some would illustrate.
Remember it is about a Relationship with Jesus
Don’t forget your goals or reasons behind this time; it is to help your child build a relationship with Jesus. If your child is not interested in a relationship with Jesus then adding a ‘Quiet Time’ in your day for them is just going through the motions. You can continue to teach them about God and His love in your Family Devotion time or your Bible Study time – but leave Personal Quiet time to when they want to know more about Jesus and spend time with him.
I want my children to learn a few things from our devotional time:
- the habit of daily setting aside time to spend with God
- to turn to the Bible for wisdom and purpose
- to learn to pray
- but most of all, to learn what God is like, who He is and to respond to Him from their own heart.
We would continue in this way until the child is a confident independent reader and in a place where they want, from their own heart, to pursue God. Then we transfer these habits to doing it on their own.
Little children so often delight in God, they see Him simply as their God. As parents,with far more baggage in our life, we have to be careful not to complicate things and not to have expectations on our children. It is likely, if we listen to their hearts, that we will learn something of God for ourselves. So to this end I encourage you, to keep things simple, keep your eye on the goals and discover a joy in God yourself to pass onto your little ones.
I really appreciate this post. Our little one is now 7 3/4…and has a sincere heart for God and her Lord. While she has always had baby bible books, and early reader bibles…we are still transitioning to a children’s regular bible. Unfotunately I feel we haven’t set a clear example of modeling daily devotions. I am hoping to change that. This school year we found a wonderful Children’s Story Bible book with beautiful illustrations, as well as a few questions, and prayers to follow after each chapter. I will try to incoporate your 4 questions in our readings…and try for reading more than once a week. Our daughter has a deep love for the Lord and His word it seems…she is always going back to a set of bible story books somebody gave to her. We were also blessed to find a preschool that taught Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. However – as she becomes more of an independent reader – I’d like to spend the rest of this year modeling daily devotions and even a devotional journal…Do you have any recommendations on titles? I am also curious how a practice of daily devotions transfers into daily prayer time? We say table grace of course…but for evening prayers it varies…Sometimes we share thanksgivings…other times we pray sweet prayers over our child…however she really does not like the Lord’s prayer! peace, Margit