For some of us moms, getting our families to read the Bible or have a prayer time is an exercise in frustration. The little kids are squirmy, the big kids unnaturally stoic and the adults just endure the operation. Plus, picking a guide or format that fits the style, charism and stage of your family is next to impossible! It has sent me into writing my own books for my motley crew.
But this Saturday was different …
My family of six studied one of the Psalms while eating a nice pancake breakfast. We didn’t fight. It wasn’t awkward. I didn’t preach. I wasn’t pulling teeth. It worked. Was it the fresh strawberries? The fact that my husband made the pancakes extra fluffy? Or maybe it was a good Psalm. Or was it that it was a simple approach? I’m not sure what the magic (or grace) was but I’d like to share it so your family too can experience an easy going yet very personal study of scripture together.
It is so easy and open that you too can pass it on:
Set the stage: Draw a big heart on a paper and say, “The point of reading the Bible or praying is always to love God and to receive his love. So, let’s keep love in mind.”
- Notice. Draw a pair of glasses in the heart. “In this Scripture passage, what do you notice? What do you imagine? What do you see in your mind? If this Bible portion were part of a movie, what would you see or hear? What do you smell or feel?” Read the passage and then let each person say something. People can share from youngest to oldest or around the table or as he/she is ready.
- Wonder. Draw a think bubble (cloud with dots below). “What does this passage make you wonder? What are you curious about? What is confusing? What ideas pop up for you?” Read the passage again if you wish and then let each person say something.
- Act. Draw a stick figure running. “What does this part of the Bible make you want to do? Make some change or resolution?Pray about? Keep in mind?” Let each person share. This last one can perhaps be done as a prayer. “Jesus, I would like to …”
A Final Prayer: “Thank you, Jesus, for this time in Your Word. Please help us to do the things You brought to mind. We love You. Amen.”
A Visual Passage
This beautiful way works well if you have picked a passage ahead of time on your own, before the family is together. I think this is the hardest part. If you already have passages that you love, start with that. Your own affection will make it more understandable for your family. The story or portion of Scripture should be easy to visualize. Most parts of the Gospels are good for this. Certain parts of Paul’s letters are full of descriptive words and so even though it is not a story, there are lots of images that a person can see as she listens. The Psalms too can be fairly image-oriented.
As your family gets used to reading together, you could try something from Genesis, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Daniel, or even passages from a prophet like Isaiah or Jeremiah. Looking at the upcoming readings for Sunday might be helpful because they are already broken into chunks, just the right portion (around 10 verses). For a quick idea, check out the readings for the day.
Don’t Forget the Sweetness
I must admit that my family does best when food is involved. And it’s not just because it tastes good. I act more sweetly as well. The food prompts me to make this a festive occasion. When serving others goodies, I tend to act as if this were a holiday or something special and so my fear about it not working is held at bay.
I’d love to hear if it brings out the goodness in your own family. If you try this, please drop a line and let me know your experience!
Copyright 2019 Carrie Soukup