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Early Spiritual Training

/ / - Christian Upbringing, Blog

I listen to the little voice coming from the back seat as my three-year-old granddaughter sings “Now the Day Is Over.” Joy swells my heart as I realize her spiritual training is taking hold so early.

How is it that one so young knows this old standard? Her mommy sings it with her every night when she puts her to bed. She, along with her baby brother, has begun life-changing learning about God.

Teaching our children about God begins at birth. From the moment your child is placed in your arms, spiritual teaching can begin by breathing a prayer over the babe. Even in early infancy, children see what you do and learn to copy it. You become their model.

Spiritual growth for all of us is an everyday occurrence. Along with your child learning to sit up, crawl, and walk, your child can be learning that God created the stars, made those chubby, little fingers, and loves each one of us.

Lessons are everywhere.

On another day, we were driving to our home in the country when a local shepherd was standing by the roadside. We stopped as I talked to Alyson about a shepherd and his job. This naturally led to telling her that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and He wants us to follow Him, like the sheep follow their shepherd. As if on cue, the shepherd began walking back toward his camp. The sheep turned and followed. Do you think this little girl will remember what a Good Shepherd does?

Even at very young ages children can learn to sing hymns. Please don’t limit your children to short choruses. The old standard hymns have so much spiritual truth set to music. They may not understand all the words now, but children will ask when the time is appropriate for them.

When our family gathers around the table to pray for a meal, even the newborn is included in the circle. Someone takes at least one of those tiny hands to complete the circle. As the child grows, prayer is taught to be an important event and family is cohesive, including each and every person.

As children learn to pray, they need to be taught that they can say what they want to God. Beginning simply with “Dear God, thank you for today” will be a precursor to “Dear God, thank you for forgiving my sins.” Even a two-year-old can do it.

Often when my grandchildren spend the night, we go outside to say good night to the rabbits, moon, and God. During the summer, the sun is setting when we do this ritual. We talk about how God paints the sky so pretty each evening. One morning when Alyson awoke at sunrise, the sky was bright pink. Alyson ran from her room exclaiming God had painted the sky pink because it is her favorite color. The opportunity was perfect to tell her how much our infinite God loves her—so much He paints the sky just for her.

Teaching spiritual truths with our little ones is a reminder to me I am to become as a child to understand the great truths of God. Our little children have faith that is beyond compare. My children and grandchildren never asked if God exists; it is accepted. I have been asked how God feeds the rabbits but never has his ability to do anything been questioned. Oh, to have that same simple faith again.

Jesus told us to bring the little ones to him. You don’t have to wait until they are “old enough” to understand. God has placed a longing in their hearts to know Him; they will understand. Present God to your little ones as you go through your day and their spiritual training will begin.

Susan K. Stewart, Managing Editor with Elk Lake Publishing, teaches, writes, and edits nonfiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen, Preschool: At What Cost?, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook, and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. Her latest book, Donkey Devos: Listen When God Speaks, was released in July. You can learn more at her website www.susankstewart.com. Join Susan and other homeschoolers at Harried Homeschoolers Facebook group.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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