The Bible contains quite a few verses that discuss the idea of meditating on scripture. Psalm 1 lauds people who “delight in the Law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night”. The New Testament also discusses meditation, but often uses terms like “think about these things”, which are perhaps more familiar ideas for us.
Whether you call it meditation, reflection or “thinking about”, God wants His people to think deeply about the scriptures He has given us. He wants us to think about what they tell us about Him and what He wants for us and from us. He wants us to use those reflections to think about how to apply those scriptures in our daily lives. He wants the same things for your kids and He wants you to teach them how to reflect on scripture.
Even though I was raised in a Christian home and attended church regularly, I don’t remember being taught anything about how to reflect or meditate on scripture. I’m not sure when it ceased to be a spiritual discipline, but you may not have been taught about reflection either. If you were taught anything, it was to read the Bible, but the plans they used covered so much scripture in one day, you could barely read it all, much less reflect on any of it.
If you want to start your kids off with great spiritual habits, reflection on scripture is an important one. It’s really rather simple to teach – even if you were never taught how to do it. I’ve broken it down into steps, to make it more like a recipe or set of instructions. There are multiple ways you can teach reflection, but this is the most streamlined I could design.
- Find a time and place. It works best if your child picks a time when something is already regularly scheduled and can just add on a little reflection time. So for example, if your child always eats breakfast or an afternoon snack, he or she may choose this as a great time to do some reflection. We tend to think of reflection as “quiet time”, where one sits silently or chants a syllable over and over. In reality, some of your kids may reflect better when taking a walk or listening to praise songs. Each of your kids may choose a different time and place. That’s fine, because it’s important to find what works best and will help them establish the habit.
- Pick a source of scriptures. The version you use is important. Try one like the NIrV. It’s a translation, therefore, more accurate than a paraphrase, but is also on a third grade reading level to make it easier to understand. To make it easier to find meaningful verses upon which to reflect, consider using a “Bible verse of the day” setting in your Bible app or from another source. Or use a book like Proverbs, where each verse usually has a lot to think about within it. Without this help, your kids may end up trying to meditate on a list of names or a description of a bit of action in a Bible story.
- Teach them to read the verse and then say what it means in their own words. This may mean they need to look up the definition of a word or two. If they can’t explain the verse in their own words, they probably don’t understand it well enough to meditate on it.
- Teach older kids to look for context. Sometimes verses can be confusing if you don’t understand what happened in the verses surrounding them. Job’s friends, for example, say some things that were just totally wrong and made God angry. Taken out of context though, your kids may think what they said was true and important. Often just reading a couple of verses before or after will give them enough context. In complicated situations, they may wish to use a concordance to help them.
- Teach them to look for a lesson. Ask your kids to think about why God wanted that verse to be in the Bible. What does He want them to learn from it? What does it tell them about God and what He wants for them and/or from them?
- Teach them to ask themselves what they need to change or do now that they have reflected on the verse. Reflecting on scripture doesn’t do a lot of good unless it is also used. Have your kids think about their lives in light of the verse they reflected upon. Is there something they need to change or do in light of it? How can they make those changes in their lives?
At first, you will want to teach your kids how to reflect on scripture by doing it together as a family. After they are comfortable with the process, let them attempt reflection independently, then discuss their thoughts with you later. Hopefully, before long they will have developed a daily habit of reflecting on scripture.