In our household our kids are really heavy on Bible knowledge. They can answer lots of factual questions about Biblical history. And my 7-year-old is actually very adept at making theological leaps and asking very thought-provoking questions. But we are lacking heart knowledge. And honestly, especially for kids, that seems a natural progression. It helps to know something about the God you believe in before you foster an authentic and deep relationship with him. But what a tragedy it would be to neglect the relationship.
"Why would we wait to train up our children in this essential discipline? Do we think younger children don't yet need time alone with God?" (Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper - John Piper's wife). Thank you, Joy for quoting her recently. I can't wait to read her book in its entirety.
I blogged last week about my desire to get my kids into the habit of having a quiet time with the Lord each day. And in that post, you will remember, I admitted that I was blogging about it BEFORE I saw success. So, are you interested in how it is going? I set out each kid's supplies (a Bible, notebook, pencil, and a note I wrote to each of them) at the spot they sit at breakfast. When they came to breakfast that morning, it was waiting for them. While breakfast was cooking I walked them through the idea of a quiet time with the Lord.
Here is what the notes said...
For My Seven-Year-Old:
During a quiet time you:
Pray to God
Read the Bible, and
Write something you read or prayed about.
Under each of these three items I gave them some suggestions of what to pray about, and what to write. I have a quasi-reader right now, which is tough because it is overwhelming to him to read even a verse of the Bible on his own, but picture bibles are getting too "baby-ish" for him. So I did not focus on that part just yet and did not give him suggestions of what to read in his Bible (yet!).
For My Five-Year-Old
I took a piece of paper and...
I drew pictures of a Bible, a notebook, and a pencil.
I also drew a picture of a kid with his eyes closed, with "thought bubbles" about what that kid might be praying about ("Thank you for my mom and dad," "Please help me to be kind and obedient today," "I love you, God").
In my presentation of these ideas I tried not to set up legalistic rules to follow but rather a set of guidelines to help direct their thoughts. But I did ask that they start their quiet time praying, rather than drawing or writing or reading. It seemed to me that it would be too easy to get off track if they did not start out doing the main thing! Both kids keep the piece of paper with them when they have their QT. The 5yo said, "sometimes I don't know what to do, so I like to keep it with me, just in case."
In my explanation I was intentional about smiling and using a lot of expression in my voice so they could catch a sense of wonder and awe about how special it is to spend time with God (I don't know if I succeeded in this effort, but I tried).
The first day, QT lasted about 7 minutes. I wanted them to see that this is a short and sweet time. Afterwards I asked them what they prayed about and what they drew. Honestly, they did not have much to say. I don't think they knew what to do during their time, even though we had gone over it. Rather than get frustrated, I reminded myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint. I am prepared to walk a long journey with my kids as they develop a relationship with the Lord. I want to be a source of encouragement to them as they develop habits and eventually form a heart-connection with the Maker of the Universe. So I anticipate that we will have many great conversations over the weeks, months and years ahead about what all of us prayed about, read, and drew during our time with the Lord.
Next time I post something about this, I will hopefully be able to answer the question of "when." Currently, I am switching the time here and there because I am not sure when to best fit this into the day.
I have been encouraged by others who have recently been inspired to start this up for their kids, too. How are QTs with your kids going?