Beginning Your Day With The Lord (Learn a Verse Before School)
Do you have a plan for discipling your children? Holly Melton explains to parents a simple, practical plan for not only praying with their children, but growing them as disciples of Jesus. No parent is perfect, but they can grow alongside their children. Starting small, memorizing a verse together, or just five minutes before bedtime, adds up to significant God conversations that sink deep into the heart of a child.
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Holly Melton explains to parents a simple, practical plan for not only praying with their children, but growing them as disciples of Jesus.
Beginning Your Day With The Lord (Learn a Verse Before School)
Bob: Now, if you have that little five-minute interaction with your kids, first of all, you’ve acknowledged that you know what’s going on in their world/that they’re facing something new. You’ve told them the promises of God will be with them in the midst of that, and you prepared them.
Now, I’m thinking, at the end of the day, when they come home, and you say, “Did you have a chance to be courageous today? Were you afraid?” You have those conversations as a follow up; and they see, “This is not just something that’s abstract. This is something that applies to what I’m living.”
Holly: Yes; and that’s where we continue on with the Deuteronomy 6, where it says, “Engage with them when you are sitting down, when you are lying down, when you wake up.” We’re living it out: you start in the morning with it; you discuss it at dinner or near bedtime; and it becomes the conversation of the week.
Bob: You’re not trying to get kids to memorize these verses every day; right?
Bob: But in reading them out loud, and reading slowly with the kids, you’re helping them understand, “God’s Word is real; it’s practical; it makes sense; it applies to my life.”
Dave: Yes; it’s funny. Somewhere in your book—I don’t remember where—wasn’t there a story about Carter with a bully? Talk about being strong and courageous. Tell that; it’s pretty cute.
Holly: Remember, my son is only in kindergarten this past year. We have been trying to help them understand that not everyone in their public school knows about Jesus, let alone wants to follow Jesus. We need to have compassion on them, but we want to share Jesus with others.
He saw a bully in the playground. He went up to him and he said—as an evangelist, I have to work on his approach—but he said, “Do you believe in Jesus?” The bully said, “Yes.” Carter looked at him, surprised, and says, “Well then why don’t you act more like Him?” [Laughter] Because He understands, “If we do believe in Jesus, there is an expectation that we become more like Him,”—already, at age six. [Laughter]
Bob: He didn’t get punched for saying that; did he?
Holly: He didn’t! No.
Bob: Well, that’s good.
Holly: He just came home a little confused. [Laughter]
Dave: But he’s being strong and courageous.
Dave: Most people run from bullies, and they don’t speak at all. There he is—living it out.
Ann: It’s funny, because kids get excited about sharing Jesus. I remember I would share the story—even at the dinner table sometimes—about Adam and Eve and the fall, and the serpent and Satan, and our need for Jesus of coming to redeem and connect us back with God. They love this story so much, they ask me to repeat it all the time; because it really becomes, then, you keep taking it into the gospel. Their friends would come over, who were like ten years old—like, “Mom, tell the Garden story,”—you know, they want me to share the gospel. These kids are like into it, which is/we assume that they won’t be; but they really become that.
Can you give us—like what are the other themes each day for courage?
Holly: Sure; Monday was “Do not be afraid.” Tuesday is “Put your hope in God”; Wednesday, “Your work will be rewarded”; Thursday, “Be courageous to obey God”; and Friday, “Be courageous in waiting.”
Bob: I have to think Joshua is in there somewhere; right?
Holly: Yes; there is—two Joshua’s.
Bob: Because I hear, “Be strong and courageous”—
Bob: —and I think, “Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous?” In fact, when our kids were growing up, there was a song—
Ann: Yes! It’s—I was just—
Bob: —[Singing] “Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous!”—right?
Ann: —[Singing] “be strong and courageous!” What was that from? [Laughter]
Bob: I don’t know.
Ann: Me neither; but we must have listened to the same thing.
Dave: That sounds like an old movie—
Ann: No; it’s like either—
Dave: —the way you guys sang it.
Ann: —Psalty the Singing Songbook or—
Bob: It was one of those. Having some of these verses put to music, I’m thinking about Seeds Family Worship, which we talked about earlier. I’m thinking about all of the different—
Dave: Do you know what my wife does now, Bob?
Ann: Oh no!
Bob: What does she do?
Dave: She downloaded all the Seeds Family Worship.
Dave: Every time we walk anywhere, she starts singing verses. She—those really work.
Bob: To have verses to music—this is what makes the Scripture stick in your heart. That’s why I can still remember Joshua 1, years later, because I got the melody in my head along with the words.
Ann: Right; right.
Bob: Did you use Scripture memory songs as a part of this rotation with your family?
Holly: We didn’t do Scripture memory songs. We do use Psalty, like you mentioned. We do have—they listen to Psalty to memorize; but we actually used this idea of memorizing verses A through Z. They would learn a verse that starts with A, learn a verse that starts with B, all the way down to Z. They started doing that when they were three, and they wouldn’t understand the verses; but again, it’s hiding the Word in their heart that they will remember for the rest of their lives—just like you did with that song.
Holly: I do think, just like with your grandson, it’s important to get memorization in, not worry about them always understanding it.
Ann: That doesn’t guarantee that they will walk with Jesus the rest of their life; but it does give them an opportunity for the Holy Spirit or for God to just bring that verse back up in a time of need in their lives.
Dave: What about dads? Is there anything?—is there a role for men/for the dad?
Ann: No! [Laughter]
Dave: Okay; okay. [Laughter] I’ll just crawl away to the corner; no. Have you seen anything?—is there any way that men can do this or dads could do this? Does it only have to be moms?
Holly: No; in fact, my whole book—I, on purpose, tried not to make the front to look flowery. I, on purpose, did not say, “Moms,” anywhere in my book; because I think it could be dads; it could be moms and dads; it could be taking turns.
Ann: —which would be even better.
Holly: Yes; so nowhere do I emphasize this is a mom manual; it’s a parent manual. I think it’s something—great—I think, if there is only one parent available in the morning, it should be that parent—whoever it is. Then, in the evening, the following parent could follow up; they could ask the questions: “So what did you learn?” “What was your verse today?” “What were you praying about?” They could be a learner of the kids so the child could then share what they’ve experienced that day.
Dave: You know, one of the things we did, when the kids were real little—I don’t know how long we did it—but I would take them/we called it, “Boys Day Out,” just to give Ann a break; right?
Dave: I don’t know if I did it once a month—
Ann: —once a month.
Dave: —or every couple of weeks. We had this ritual of going to a video game mall and getting A&W® root beer. Listening to this right now, it’s like, “That would have been an opportunity, at least, to take one of these and spend the day, doing my part.” Again, it wouldn’t be just once a month; but it’s a way—if we had had this back then—I would have said, “Okay, Friday is my day,” or “Monday is my day. I’m driving them to school; I’m going to take them through.”
I’m looking at Week 5: “Comparison and Jealousy.” That never happens; people never compare or get jealous—[Laughter]—that never ends—but to be able to walk them through truth from the Scripture and to be involved with Ann. I mean, that’s an opportunity for men to jump in. Has your husband done anything in that way?
Holly: Well, I’m the morning person; so he picks up the kids, and I take the kids. Because we both drive though, he does ask them, as he picks them up: “How was your day? What did you learn today? How were you in seeing the people around you?” He asks discipleship questions on the drive home.
It might not be exactly always related to our prayer in the morning; but the other thing we’ve put into our day—that our children demand from my husband—is we do five minutes with them before they go to bed too. We start the day—one of us—with this prayer; but both of us—now, we only have two kids; so if you have like eight kids, this might be a little harder—but we each spend five minutes with each of them, which could end up being ten or more—but every night, they want five minutes alone with each parent. That five minutes has become so great in the specific bonding. It’s almost like—nowadays, you take your kid out for a date; right? But five minutes every day really adds up to have some significant quality conversations. They want their daddy time every night—that five minutes—it’s like non-negotiable.
Bob: Are you finding that this is sticking with your kids? I mean, it’s something that you talked about a few weeks ago is coming back into their conversation; they are going, “I remember that verse.” Is that happening?
Holly: I would say, at their ages, they are not remembering a verse. They are remembering the principle,—
Bob: —an idea.
Holly: —because they are doing it/I’m doing it for a whole week, so it really becomes foundational. Then the next week becomes foundational.
One example is—I’m very big on teaching them the fruit of the Spirit; I think that’s important. I think a lot of times, especially—it doesn’t matter if your kids are young or old—when a child comes to faith in Christ, that doesn’t make us more sinless; right? It just makes us saved from our sin, but we still sin. I think one of the theologies we don’t often teach our children, no matter their age, is that the Holy Spirit comes in us to empower us—to empower us to be courageous, to empower us to watch our mouth, to empower us to not have comparison or all of these things—so we’ve specifically spent a week in this devotional on each of the fruit of the Spirit.
What we now do in our evening prayers as a family is we say: “Evaluate your day; which of the fruit of the Spirit was a little hard for you? I want you to own it, confess it, and then ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to have more self-control or kindness the next day.” This has really helped them to evaluate, at five and six, their own sanctification/their own needing to become more like Jesus—own that they are still not perfect/that they need the Holy Spirit—and asking for His help so they are [learning] dependence.
Bob: And they are hearing you start that—it’s not just, “Where was the fruit of the Spirit absent in your life today?”—but Mom and Dad are going,—
Bob: —“I’ll go first.”
Bob: I think for kids to know, “We’re [parents] on the same journey that you are on,” and “We’re having to learn this as well.”
Dave: One of the things that just hit me about this is thinking of teenagers—and you’re not there yet—but you know one of the things we noticed with our teenage boys was they would start to ask us questions about our faith. This would have given us a theme, which would have been really interesting, because if we’re talking about courage the whole week—I mean, I’m thinking even when our last son was there, and the other two were in college, he really started reaching out and saying, “Tell me your testimony.”
It was different because the other two weren’t there, [where] it was sort of chaotic; but he really wanted to know. It could be this little thing: “Okay; let’s talk about courage. Dad, when were you afraid?—in college?—last week?” “Son, when were you afraid?” I mean it gives you, like you said, the intentionality. I’m not always the most intentional, so I need to have a resource/a tool. I’m thinking, “You’re doing it with little five- and six-year-olds; but when they are fifteen and sixteen, this is going to pay off.”
Ann: It gives you a chance—you’re right—to tell them your story or, maybe, your failures of when you weren’t courageous or when you were. Third John 1:4 comes to mind: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
When you’re talking about bedtime—for us—that was one of our favorite times because kids open up at bedtime because they don’t want to go to sleep. I know, as parents—you are tired, and you are exhausted, and you want to just have time to yourself—but I think that time for us has been the most precious time.
I’ve shared this before; but one of our sons was getting married. Dave and I were on our knees, actually; because at first, when they are little, you are in the bed with them; then they get a little older, and you’re sitting on the bed. But this night—the night before he got married—we were on our knees, and we were praying for him for the last time before he got married. We had our hands on him, praying for him.
Of course, I’m crying because it’s like, “Man, I’m so excited for you; but this is an end of an era.” I asked him, “Austin, what will you miss the most about living under our roof?” He said, “This; you guys praying for me every night. This will be something I’ll carry on.” It was so interesting because later we asked his wife, “What will you miss about being under your parents’ roof?” She said the same thing: “My parents praying for me at night in bed.”
I know that [when] we’re in the midst of it—we’re exhausted; we’re thinking, “This doesn’t make any difference. They are playing; they’re totally out of it,”—those moments sink deep into a child’s life.
We [Ann, Dave and Bob] all know because our kids are grown. Those are the greatest joys. Bob, when you just played that video of your grandson memorizing Scripture—
Bob: No greater joy—
Bob: —than to know that our kids are walking in the truth; that’s right.
Dave: I was just thinking, “That son—when we call him on FaceTime®—they’ve got four kids, and it’s absolute chaos.
Ann: —chaos. [Laughter]
Dave: I mean, kids are running naked; you know?
Ann: They are five, three, two, and one.
Dave: We’re just like, “How in the world do you survive?” It’s exactly what we experienced back in the day, but—
Ann: But it’s so sweet; yes.
Dave: —the cool thing is, when they get ready for bedtime—because we’ve been there—they are on their knees; they are praying. They are doing what they—
Ann: They are singing songs.
Dave: It’s really cool.
Dave: Really cool.
Bob: Holly, this is a gift, really, for parents to have this laid out/to have it systematized for them. It’s a roadmap that they can follow. I’m grateful we can offer it to our listeners. Thanks for being here. Thanks for all the work that went into this, and may it be multiplied in tens of thousands of homes across the country and around the world.
Holly: Well, thank you for having me.
Bob: Yes; for our listeners, any of you who would like a copy of Holly’s book, we’re making it available this week to those of you who can make a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Your donations help us deliver practical biblical help and hope to marriages and families all around the world every day. You extend the reach of this ministry every time you donate. You are having an impact on the lives, the marriages, and the families of tens of thousands of people every day.
When you make a donation today, just ask for your copy of Holly Melton’s book, Praying with Your Kids Before School. You can make your donation, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to donate and get a copy of Holly Melton’s book, Praying with Your Kids Before School. Call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to introduce you to Matt Hammitt, former lead singer for Sanctus Real—the guy who wrote the song, Lead Me. He and His wife Sarah are going to join us and talk about his journey to becoming the spiritual leader in his home. He has written a book called Lead Me. It’s going to be a great conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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