One of the traps of this world is to keep all things spiritual for Sunday mornings and church time and the rest of the week we quite happily live our lives as self-sufficient little souls getting things done… getting to work and back, getting the chores done and getting dinner on the table and really only thinking about church again… at worst on Sunday morning and at best on Saturday evening: “Church in the morning, I had better check that everyone has a fresh shirt.” Well this I think can be true for all of us, even when we have a consistent quiet time and even when we attend weekly Bible Study… we tend to put God and our thinking about God into “those times” and the rest of the time “get busy with our lives.” Someone recently asked me how do I integrate godly thinking into the “everyday” of my children’s lives…
I have to say that, while attending church is an absolute highlight of my kids week, it is not the only time that we think about God at all. But I couldn’t answer the question immediately because integrating little bits of prayer and bible reading into our daily lives is something that isn’t static. It is always changing and we are always trying new things and phasing out some things… Also, because it is such a part of our daily rhythm, it is not something we think about too much. That sounds terrible – let me word it better: We don’t have moments in our day when we think, “Time for a little visit with God.” It is more like throughout our day we consistently interact with God, but we don’t have a public fanfare about it, it is just part of our lives.
Se7en + 1 Daily Visits With God…
- The Breakfast Prayer: One way to get our family all together in one place is the draw of a meal. So breakfast times are our first gathering of the day and we go around the table just praying for people that we know. Each child gets to chose a different person or family and they pray for them… maybe missionary friends, maybe best friends, maybe people they have met in passing, maybe someone that they interact with in their daily lives. It is always interesting to hear these prayers… little hearts can be really direct.
- A Missionary Biography: Luckily there are great christian men and women in history, who have had their biographies captured for us to read and learn from. We are usually reading one together as a family and we read a chapter or two at the breakfast table before everyone dashes off. We have just read about Adoniram Judson and right now we are reading Catching their Talk in a Box.
- School Begins with a Bible Reading: All my kids school for the day begins with a Bible Reading… it is the first item on their schedule and I think it is as ingrained as doing school on a daily basis. I think it would be strange for them not to read from the Bible as an opening to their daily studies, it is as entrenched as doing history or science reading for the day – Bible reading is a part of their lives. For my pre-readers we read the Egermeier’s Bible Story Book. At first I thought this book would be a bit hard for my younger children to appreciate, but honestly while I battled through this Bible the first once or twice, the truth about having eight kids trailing through your homeschool year after year, means that we are reading this for the sixth time in a row. Now everyone stops what they are doing to listen to this bible being read for the day. Everyone might look like they are doing school, but pencils are poised mid sentence and pages remain unturned for the duration – everyone is listening to this complete journey through the bible again and again.
- Pray at Lunchtime: At the end of a school morning where we nearly always are running late… it is a mad dash of clearing away school and eating lunch before the wheels come off. All that means that I usually do the praying at lunchtime. And for someone who would never ever pray out loud, my kids have trained me well. Praying at lunchtime and more than just “Thank you Lord for lunch, Amen” is a great equaliser in a day. It calms the frayed tension of folk who were stalled mid-project by a meal… and reassures the folk whose morning has run on too long and are desperate for a rest. We usually read another chapter of our biography before folk wander off to read and and relax a little before the afternoon takes over.
- Pray at Dinner time: This is our re-connect time of the day – when kids that have been out and about, playing or visiting, not to mention the father person returning from the office, all gather together around the table again. We take turns with our dinner time prayers and free reign is given. Some folk pray long prayers for folks around the world, and a safe sleep through the night; others are a quick prayer of gratitude for food to fill their hungry tummies!!! My kids love it when their father prays, while it is important for them to take turns in praying it is as important for them to hear him praying and to learn from his prayers.
- Pray at Bedtime: I absolutely love bed-time prayers… the end of the day as little folk are in that nice dreamy place between stories and sleep. We lie together in the dark and folks thank God for their favourite things that happened in the day… it can be as simple as marshmallows from a best friend, a visit with granny… whatever it is, it is good for my kids to reflect on how well their day went, not only their own day but their sibling’s too.
- Invite Missionaries to dinner or Write Letters to Missionaries: Introduce your children to christian heroes… Living Christian heroes!!! I know it is so easy to get caught up in reading biographies about the great christian pioneers, but your children need to meet and mingle with living christians. Practice hospitality, invite friends from church over, if a missionary visits your church – invite them over. They may be too busy, but very often folk that are traveling relish an evening in a home with a home cooked meal. Take a look at the missionary board at church and adopt a missionary, write to them, let your kids write to them and engage with them. My kids have always had a great reception from missionaries they have written too or invited over.
- And Story-Time: In our pile of books at bedtime there are always one or two Bible Stories, just part of the pile. Bible stories are not relegated to a special pile, a special basket, a special shelf… they are just there in the mix to be read and re-read. My little ones and I are reading through the Dorling Kindersley Children’s Everyday Bible for about the ten millionth time… It is a story a day kind of bible and we usually read a week or two at a time. Seriously who can read just one page of a good book. On our e-reader in the “Kids book section” we have a copy of the Jesus StoryBook Bible, when someone ventures there for some screen time they pop into that Bible for a visit. And finally another fun Bible Resource for the very young is an audio bible stories, in a quiet moment in the day when they are doing something quiet like drawing at the table.
I think that for us the secret is, not waiting until everything is perfect to do Bible Study with our kids… not waiting until we have the right bible story book, or the perfect family prayer list, not worrying if we miss our breakfast prayer time once a week because we are dashing out the door. The secret is just start anywhere, anytime… just take one step forward, never mind if you battle to be consistent, just one step at a time. This is something that our family can really work on together… building little visits with God into our everyday.