We train our kids to do things that are good for them… over and over and over again.
Those things include the daily basics like getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and eating breakfast. For Christian parents, the daily basics also need to include training our children in the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life.
What are Spiritual Disciplines?
A spiritual discipline is an activity that helps us to grow spiritually. When we discipline ourselves, it’s a form of training that allows us to grow and bear fruit. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the Apostle Paul says:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life: Abide in Jesus
Jesus is speaking to his disciples when he says something that’s a little unusual (John 15:1-5, ESV):
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
What does that mean?
It means that when we live in Jesus, we’ll grow! When we stay connected to him every day we’ll bear fruit and become more like him.
“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 (ESV)
Which Spiritual Disciplines Grow Spiritual Fruit?
In his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney lists the spiritual disciplines as:
- Bible Intake
- Silence and Solitude
These are all important spiritual disciplines for spiritually mature Christian adults to practice. For kids and for new disciples, I think we should keep it simple. It’s all about the basics.
Some Great Spiritual Discipline Resources for Your Grown Up New Year
Bible Road Trip Year OneAn Infinite Journey: Growing toward ChristlikenessMatters of the Heart: A 52-Week Scripture Memorization Challenge for Women by Carlie KerchevalPraying the BibleSpiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
Spiritual Disciplines for Kids
Andrew M. Davis, in An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness, writes of three spiritual disciplines essential for a Christian to develop in maturity:
- Bible Intake
- Meditation and Memorization of Scripture
- Personal Prayer
For a child, these disciplines are plenty to practice on a daily basis. Practicing all three will create habits that can last a lifetime.
Printable Calendar Pages: Spiritual Disciplines Calendar for Kids
To help your kids establish a daily spiritual discipline routine, I’ve developed a Spiritual Disciplines Calendar for Kids for you! There’s a version for each year, so the dates will show up correctly.
You’ll want to print a copy for each child so they’ll have their own calendar. The calendar comes with a household license, so you can print a copy for each of your children without worry. If you are using the calendar for a school or Church class, you’ll need a classroom license. Those are available at ThinkingKidsPress.com.
Using the Spiritual Disciplines Calendar for Kids
Using the Spiritual Disciplines Calendar for Kids is simple!
Each day, be sure to help your child read the Bible, pray, and work on memorizing a Bible verse. After he’s practiced one of the disciplines, he can locate today’s date on the calendar, and color in the picture for that discipline.
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.