Training Up A Child In The Way They Should Go

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By Nathan Johnson

What does this mean in everyday life? How are we to accomplish this task that carries eternal significance?

The Bible commands parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). In other words, we, as adults, have the divine responsibility of discipling the shorter people in our lives in the way of Christ, so to help parents, grandparents, and foster parents do that, here are some tips and tricks that will help you develop a family devotional habit with your kids that will lead them on the right path in Jesus.

Biblical Methods:

A. Read the Bible.

The most important aspect of your family devotional time is Scripture. This does not have to be whole books of the Bible, but children need exposure to the Word of God in meaningful ways.

1.   One easy way to engage children in the Bible is through using a children’s Bible. There are many to choose from. Take your children to a Christian bookstore or go online together and choose one as a family. Generally, these versions of the Bible shorten the stories so that children can grasp the main points of the text and use colorful pictures with it.

2.   Focus on the story. The Bible is God’s story to us of his love and desire for relationship. By focusing on the greater story, children are able to see the connection between what is happening in the passages you read and their lives.

3.   Read around the table. To keep your children engaged as you work through your family devotion time, have each family member read part of the passage, if they are able to read.

4.   Use a children’s devotional such as Big Beliefs, Long Story Short, or Focus on the Family’s 90 Devotions for Kids. These have been written for children so are perfect for family devotions.

Give children daily exposure to the Word of God.

B. Use Multimedia

Although it is vital that most of your time in family devotions be in the written Word of God, occasionally utilizing some of the many resources available will be a nice treat for your family. Adventures in Odyssey have thousands of biblically-based stories in audio form that you can listen to and then discuss as a family. Your children’s pastor or Christian bookstore clerk can point you in the direction of quality videos you can use. Even YouTube has a plethora of videos that can prove helpful.

1.   Mix it Up. For family devotions to be effective they must be engaging. There is no rule that says they have to follow a certain pattern. Be creative!

2.   Make prayer a central theme of your family devotion time. Prayer is communing with God and what better time to model this with your children than during family devotion time. Children will learn to take their needs to God and see him answer. They will also learn to share their concerns and needs with you which will create a foundation for open dialogue that can continue throughout their lives.

C. Memorize Scripture

The Bible is clear: we are to hide God’s Word in our hearts (Ps. 119:11). To accomplish this, we must memorize scripture. You may choose to have a verse of the week or month depending on the age of your children. But regardless of the method you choose, the important thing is for everyone to memorize scripture together. Write a song or use motions or create a game to help. Just be sure to take time to review the scriptures you’ve learned.

D. Worship

God is worthy of our worship. Take a few moments and worship the Lord together as a family. If you aren’t musical, get a children’s worship album and sing along. You may find that your children request this album at other times of the day such as in the car or as they play.

Children learn from what is caught and taught.

Biblical Advice for Caregivers

1. It is more important that you do family devotions than the mechanics of how you do them.

2. The foundation of family devotions is quite simple: read, teach, and pray. There is no need to make it any more complicated than that.

3. Remember, family devotions are not just about gaining biblical knowledge. It is also about establishing patterns, displaying priorities, and modeling a lifestyle of abiding in Christ.

4. Keep your family devotions simple, particularly when you are just beginning the habit. Five minutes of engagement accomplish more than twenty rambling ones.

5. Every lesson doesn’t have to have a complex object lesson. Focus on engagement, not entertainment.

6. One benefit of regular family devotions is relating to God together as a family. It ties you together spiritually.

7. Don’t worry if your kids seem bored. Do your best to engage them with the topic, but also let your kids be kids.

8. Talk with your friends and family about their family devotion plan. They may have some great tips.

9. Expect God to work through your family devotion time. He will. But do not expect his work to be on your terms or timeframe. Let the Holy Spirit do his job.

10. If at all possible, dad should take responsibility for family devotion time. Showing leadership in this area speaks volumes to your children.

11. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You may not see results for quite a while. Even so, your children are engaging with Scripture which is always a win!


If you want to train up a child in the way they should go, make sure as a parent, you go that way yourself. More is caught that taught, so it’s important to be consistent as a parent in what you teach them. They will not hear your words if your own actions are drowning them out.

About the Author

Nathan Johnson is a husband, dad, and volunteer Sunday school teacher in San Diego, CA. In his spare time he comes up with crazy fun ideas for teaching elementary age kids God’s Word at Better Bible Teachers (

Here is some related reading for you: How To Teach Your Children About God

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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