Every morning I desire quiet time with God. Starting my day with a devotional or just some Bible reading and prayer really starts me on the right track. The habit of daily Bible reading is super important to me and I can feel the difference in my life when that habit falls by the wayside.
Now, it hasn’t always been easy for me. And that is why I desire to instill this habit in my children now while they are young and eager to learn. They can’t read by themselves so I can’t put it on their checklist and expect them to have quiet time with God. However, I can carve out a time in the morning when I read a memory verse and devotion to them (and later, when they have learned to read, I can ask them to read their own devotion).
During this morning “Bible time” I have chosen to read My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt. We had bought this as a Christmas gift because it included a little story to illustrate each memory verse and we thought this would be a great way to start memorizing verses in our home. The verse is at the top with a little explanation of it’s meaning. Sometimes there are “big” words that are defined or a little background information to help little ones understand the verse better. Then the story is presented. The stories revolve around siblings Missy and Bill. Each story demonstrates how the memory verse can be applied in real life, everyday situations. At the end of the story is a box with questions to help your child think a little deeper about what she just read and with a prayer.
Here is an example of how we use My ABC Bible Verses as our devotional:
I read “Do all things without complaining and disputing. Philippians 2:14.” Then I read the explanation about what it means to whine and argue and what it sounds like when someone is complaining. Sometimes I get more questions from Elle and sometimes she gives me an example showing me that she understands what she is hearing. We go on to the story about Missy complaining about taking out the trash because she is in the middle of putting together her favorite puzzle. The story continues with her mom sitting down at the table with Missy to explain this verse. She is compassionate and understanding. Missy listens to her mother by praying and being thankful that she has the ability to take out the trash and is excited to help. The story ends at bedtime with Missy telling her mother how glad she is that “He lets us know how He wants us to live and gives us the Holy Spirit to help us do the right things.” Then we recap with the questions: “What does complaining and disputing mean?” We repeat the verse three times (well, I repeat it, Elle listens but she’ll fill in the blank for me if she is confident that she knows the verse). Then we review the previous verses. Elle is doing really well at remembering a lot of them now. Last we pray. For this story we “ask God for grace to have a thankful heart.”
My ABC Bible Verses is a great way to help little ones with memory verses. I love that there is a story to teach the verse. It really helps to drive home the importance and relevance of scripture. My little ones are eager to listen every morning and they ask for the devotional. We typically start with this and then do our morning routine, but sometimes we’ll read after we are dressed and before we start our school day. It just depends if the kids are up at the same time or not.
This book is best, I think, for toddlers (because it’s never too early) up to about first or second grade. I would imagine that at about second and third grade kids would be happy to read this on their own, especially if it was something mom and dad read to them when they were smaller. I’m not sure if this would be good as a new book for a third grader and older because it’s “ABC’s” and although the stories are completely relevant it may be perceived as a book for “babies.”
Even though we use this as a morning devotional, it certainly can be read any time of day. Some parents find that this would be great as a bedtime story book. I only read one letter per day because I want the verse to have time to sink in. I also want my kids to be excited to read scripture and if I allow multiple stories I’m afraid they won’t be craving “just one more story”.
I intend to reread this over the course of the next few months and then begin another devotional book for kids. Then I will probably bring My ABC Bible Verses back out again, because I see the value in these stories and memory verses. And the kids really like the stories, too.
My hope is that investing time now with the kids to create a quiet devotional time will naturally encourage them to continue their own quiet time in the future. I believe it will be much easier for me to expect that they read their Bible by themselves when we have already established this special time together. They will also understand that mom has her own Bible time in the morning. In the future I envision this as their time to talk to God and they can read whatever scripture they feel led to read. Of course, mom is here to help guide them and if needed provide additional materials to inspire and aid their understanding of what they are reading.
Do you have a Bible devotional time? What resources do you use to help with understanding and memorizing scripture?