Joy of Reading the Bible

My four-year-old padded into the living room and stopped as soon as she saw me. With a natural curiosity she asked, “Mom, what book are you reading?”

“I’m reading my Bible,” I answered.

Her eyes widened in surprise. “You’re reading the Bible?”

“Yes, honey, I read it every day. But I usually read my Bible early in the morning — before you wake up. Today, I got a later start.”

I found my daughter’s reaction disconcerting. I thought I had been doing the “right thing” by rising early to spend time alone in God’s Word. But in doing so, I had neglected to model for my children the importance of reading the Bible each day. Yes, we had Bible story time as a family. That was already a part of our mid-morning routine.

But I also needed to teach my children how to be comfortable sitting quietly with the Bible — even if only for a few minutes each day.

So I started a new daily habit. A five-minute habit. I still had my “uninterrupted quiet time” before they woke up, but I added something new to our mornings too. After we shared a morning Bible story together, I laid out a fun beach towel for each of my children on the living room floor. Then I gave each of my kids an age-appropriate Bible.

The rules were simple: They could pick any story they wanted. And they could “read” quietly for five minutes. Since my son was only two years old at the time, I told him that he could look at the pictures in his Bible. But they all had to stay on their towels for five quiet minutes.

My daughters took to our new habit right away. But my son? He squirmed and fidgeted. He’s a physically active boy, and sitting still was really tough. So on the second day, I let the kids play outside for a little while before coming inside for Bible time.

Once again, we read a Bible story aloud together. Then we created our own spots in the living room with a beach towel and spent a few minutes of quiet time with our own Bibles.

And what did I do during this time? I read my Bible too.

At first, my little boy could barely keep still for two minutes. I would maybe get one verse read before he was scrambling off to play Legos. We needed practice. So I would pick one verse in my Bible, and I would read that one verse over and over until my little boy needed to move around, which was maybe 30 seconds after we started. And that’s okay.

I didn’t give up though. We continued trying. Every day.

On some days, our attempt lasted 60 seconds. Other days, around two minutes.

After a while, though, my son grew more interested in the pictures. And after our five minutes of quiet time, I would ask him which pictures he looked at, and I would tell him the story.

Years later, we still enjoy quiet reading time together as a family. And that fidgety boy of mine is still plenty fidgety. It’s his nature, and that’s okay. It’s how he’s wired. And we celebrate his physical giftedness in many ways. He’s learned, however, when it’s appropriate to be physically active, and when it’s appropriate to be still. It didn’t happen overnight. But it did happen.

Our five-minute habit has now grown to thirty. And when those thirty minutes are over, the kids don’t move. They keep reading. They’ve discovered the joy of reading — especially the joy of reading the Bible.

Now when my daughter walks into the living room and sees me reading my Bible, she no longer wears a look of shock on her face.