One Hour Each Day With Kids
Start to instill the joy of spending time with God even when your child is very young. Start small and be creative–these are key ingredients when you have little ones. First start out with five minutes, then ten, and then fifteen. Here are some ideas:
*Put on worship music and dance with your baby in your arms.
*Listen to the Bible on CD or calming worship music while you rock your baby to sleep.
*Spend one snack time each day and hold “high chair devotions.” Tell your little one it’s time to spend time with God. Put on calming or lively worship music depending on your child’s personality. Seat her in her highchair. Pray a short prayer together. While you feed her, tell a Bible story such as how the animals came into Noah’s ark. Each spoonful can be a different animal going into the ark.
*Hold “play mat devotions.” Lay your infant on a play mat. Tell him a Bible story while you play with him. Say a prayer for him while you play. Listen to children’s worship music during this time, too.
*For your own time alone with God, make it a priority to find time to meet with God if and when you have a quiet moment. If you wake up early, have time during your infant’s nap, or go to bed later, meeting with God each day will give you the strength to do your work, will give you the comfort to face life’s issues, and will give you purpose and hope and peace.
With Toddlers and Preschoolers
Having a toddler is a very busy time of life. Learn to teach your toddler to take time to focus on God each day. Here are some ideas:
*Have playpen devotions. Keep a basket of Bible-themed toys and sturdy Bible story boardbooks that are only used for this time each day. Place your child in the playpen (or next to you if he can stay in one place) and explain that it’s time for daily devotions. Give him the Bible-themed toys and Bible story books to play with on his own while you sit nearby and read your Bible and write in your prayer journal. Start with 5 minutes, then build up to 10 or 15 minutes as your child’s stamina increases. Be sure to make this a joyful time–if your child starts to object too strongly, change the routine to include other activities listed here.
*Spend time worshipping and dancing together to a children’s worship CD. Read Bible story books to your child while she is sitting on your lap. Watch a Bible story DVD together. Pray simple prayers together. Make a little photo album of people to pray for together each day. Add pictures of family members and friends. Include pastors and members of your church. Add photos of government leaders. Make a simple Bible-themed craft together. Start spending 15 minutes each day together for your “devotion time” and build up to half an hour or an hour as your child’s attention span allows.
With Elementary Age Kids
While your children are away at school, make it a priority to meet alone with God one hour every day. If you’re a stay-at-home Mom, schedule in your hour each day on your calendar. If you work outside the home, get up early or stay up later or find time on your break to meet one hour each day with God. You’ll be amazed at how your days will be filled with peace, strength, hope, and purpose. You’ll be refreshed and renewed and restored.
If you homeschool your children, they are old enough to learn to establish a daily time alone with God for themselves. Start with a kitchen timer and set it for 15 minutes. Gradually build up to an hour as your child’s stamina develops. Don’t be legalistic, however, but be creative to make this time a special, happy, and joyful time. Here are some ideas:
*Give your child options. One day, he might want to watch a full-length Bible story or biblical-themed movie during his time with God. You can watch it with him, or sit in the next room while you have your own time of devotion, Bible reading, worship and prayer. Another day, he might want to join you and read the Bible together, make a Bible-themed craft together, dance to a children’s worship CD together, and pray together.
*Explain to your children that you are each spending time alone with God each day. Give suggestions on how to do this. They can each listen to a CD of Christian music while they are each in their own room during this time. They can read Christian magazines or their Bible. They can write down prayer requests or draw a picture of a Bible story that they would like to give to a relative. They can play with Bible-themed toys during this time. Encourage them to spend time talking with God while they are in their rooms. While they are in their rooms alone with God, sit down in your own chair and spend personal time with God. Meet afterward to share with each other about how God ministered and spoke to your hearts during this time.
Again, creativity is key. You want to teach your children the joy and delight of meeting alone with God each day. If your children start to object or resent this time, change the routine. Meet all together as a group instead of separately. Or, provide craft supplies for them to make a Bible-themed craft. Or, go to the Christian bookstore and let them choose a prayer journal, a children’s devotion, or a different Bible to use during this time.
With Teens or Older Children
To train your teens or older children to spend time with God each day, you might need to include a family devotion at dinner or each evening. There are many products available in the Christian market that offer creative ideas on activities and devotions to do together with older children.
One of the best ways to teach your teens or older kids to meet each day with God is by your example. Tell them how you set aside time each day to meet with God. Let them see you reading your Bible and listening to worship music. Invite them to sit in the room with you during your hour each day with God. Make this a regular part of your own routine. Watching your faith in action will be one of the best lessons they can ever learn.
If you have ideas or suggestions on how to spend one hour each day with God during the various stages of raising children, I’d love to hear from you! What works for you and your kids?