Nurture a Habit of Reading God’s Word
So we’re staying home in an unprecedented experience in our lives. While we pray and do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and care for neighbors in need, I hope this will be a season of your family growing stronger together and in your faith. Last week, I shared about telling stories as a way to build relationships and faith. This week, let’s think about one of the best possible investments of our time: reading scripture.
Do you read the Bible regularly? Do you read to your young kids? Are your older kids getting into the Bible on their own? I know it’s tough. It can be hard to make time. It can be daunting to know where to start with such a big book. But I want to assure you that you CAN reap the benefits of reading the Bible on your own. And you CAN help your kids have a great foundation of God’s truth and love if you help them develop a steady diet of learning God’s Word.
Adults: Lead by Example
What kids learn is more caught than taught. So you will leave a lasting impression if they see that you value the Bible and make time to read scripture. Plus, it will transform and bless your life. So where to begin?
First, make a habit in your schedule. Maybe it’s when you first get up; perhaps your Bible awaits you at your breakfast table; maybe it’s just after dinner; or perhaps on your nightstand for a few minutes of reading before bed. Even just 5-10 minutes of reading scripture each day will change your life.
If you’ve never read the Bible, I’d suggest you start with the gospel according to Matthew – to hear the life and teachings of Jesus. Then move on to the other gospels (Mark, Luke, and John) and the rest of the New Testament. You’ll notice several stories repeated in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so if you’re eager to get into undiscovered territory, skip to John and come back to Mark and Luke later.
Once you’ve developed a habit, move on to reading the Old Testament or try a One-Year Bible plan (in book form or in the YouVersion app) that gives you a combination of verses from Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs each day.
Read to Your Young Kids
Reading to babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers is one of the best possible ways to help their minds grow. Reading kid-friendly Bible stories is one of the best ways to help shape their understanding of God, life, and the world. Little ones can grow up understanding that God made them, God loves them, Jesus is wonderful, and God is at work in our lives. Since kids learn and understand stories best, most children’s Bibles capture some of the most famous stories that teach of God’s character and life lessons. For kids 4 and under, I’d recommend The Beginner’s Bible published by Zondervan. For ages 4-9, the Jesus Storybook Bible gives some more depth to the stories. As you read with them, God’s word will be stored in their hearts and it will lead to great questions and conversations.
Nurture a Reading Habit in Older Kids & Teens
As kids learn to read on their own, keep reading to them and also encourage them to read on their own. As my kids have developed as readers in their early elementary years, they have enjoyed a mix of age-appropriate kids’ Bibles as well as hearing or reading some of the actual Bible. My boys have really gotten into the graphic novel-like Action Bible. We’ve had seasons where we read a story of Jesus from one of the gospels each morning at breakfast.
When I was in 7th grade, I decided I wanted to read the whole Bible. I read one chapter most nights and completed it in 4 years! This may sound daunting, but if you can brush your teeth every night, you can read a chapter of the Bible every night. I think it’s a great goal for every teen to read the entire Bible before college – or at least the New Testament, which is only about ¼ of the length of the Bible. Again, a Bible in a Year plan, even if you’re spreading it over a longer time, will help mix up the content so readers keep interested.
We’re building every day. We’re building habits, we’re building family. But what will our building be like? Jesus said “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
We’re walking every day. Are we walking in the counsel of our creator or in the darkness of folly? “Your word, oh Lord, is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). May your family experience God’s grace and truth as you walk in his Word.
by Scott Parr 3/28/2020