Parenting Class

This Month’s Parenting Class: Helping Your Teen Develop a Personal Devotional Life

The Bible says in Luke 5:16 that “Often Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. A foundational spiritual practice of the Christian life is having personal time alone with God. The Bible speaks often of personal times of prayer, study and reflection. As parents, we need to make this a part of our own daily lives for sure. In between the mounds of laundry, running to the next sports practice or trying to make it to the next business meeting, we personally need to set aside time to be with God.

For our teens, it is even more important as they are establishing their own life-long spiritual path. The habits they form in all areas of life will be the life they live in years to come. This especially applies when it comes to their spiritual lives and personal devotional practices. If teens can develop healthy spiritual rhythms now, they will be more likely to continue them as they head into adulthood.

Here are 3 ways to help your teen to begin to develop a personal devotional life…

“Set the Example, Not just the Expectation.” You cannot just expect your teen to want to have a personal time with God if it is not something that is important to you in your own lives. Your own personal spiritual practices need to be something you talk about and share with your family. Your teen will not only be able to see the action of doing but also the reaction of the result in your lives.

Often as parents you want something for your children that you do not have in your own life. This might be great when it comes to academics or athletics, but when it comes spirituality, parents must lead the way first.

“Pray, Not Just Persuade.” Long before you begin the discussion about spiritual practices and individual quiet time, you need to be praying for your child. More powerful than your words to them, is your word for them in prayer. Your human power of persuasion to challenge their mind will never be as powerful as God’s power to persuade their heart.

Yes, you do need to talk to your teen about the importance and the reasons for developing the habit of having daily time with God. You also need to be leading up to, surrounding, and continuing to pray after you have those conversations. God will continue the work to draw them closer to Him.

“Discuss, Not Just Debate.” As your teen begins to read and pray through the scriptures, they are going to come across things that may be confusing or bring up questions. It is natural and actually good for your teen’s spiritual development to have “honest questions”. You need to be able to address these challenges head on in discussion and not debate.

The greatest help in personal study is to have additional tools and wisdom to refer to. Beyond simply having your teen read the Bible, supply them with good study tools. Consider purchasing them a devotional to compliment their Bible reading. Find a few good commentaries and study Bibles to have available for your family. Together, take some time to discuss and talk about what is being read, helping them to be able to interpret and apply what God is revealing to them in their personal time with Him.

A deep personal devotional life does not happen overnight, so be patient while you continue to pray and follow up with your teen. Especially during busy seasons, together keep each other accountable in being consistent in the word.

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