One of the wonderful tools that my wife and I have been using during our family devotions is a book called Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade, P&R Publishing. Based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, it walks you through 107 questions and answers, one question per week. It contains a well-prepared discussion, along with Scriptural passages, on some aspect of the answer for 6 days of the week (you get Sundays off).
Our kids, who are 5 and 7, greatly enjoy this time. We review the previous 10 questions and answers each evening, then read through the day's entry. For the Bible passage, we do a "sword drill" (where the children race to look up the verses in their Bibles) and take turns reading the verses aloud.
The catechism is a marvelous tool. Before I started seriously looking into it, my concept of "catechism" was some boring old list of peculiar questions with academic answers. But the catechism is not boring! It is an incredible, succinct distillation of centuries of theological understanding and wisdom.
I mean, when your kids have asked you "What is prayer?" ... what did you say? I think I said "prayer is talking to God." Which is a fine answer for a 2-3 year old, but look at the rich answer of the catechism:
Q98: What is prayer?Here are some other sample questions and answers:
A98: Prayer is offering our desires to God in the name of Christ for things that agree with His will, confessing our sins, and thankfully recognizing His mercies.
Q1: What is man's primary purpose?Most of these answers are too complex for our children to remember, so after we've discussed them, we create simpler ones which are part of our nightly review. For example, answer 2 has become "The Bible, in the Old and New Testaments, and is the word of God."
A1: Man's primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Q2: What authority from God directs us how to glorify and enjoy Him?
A2: The only authority for glorifying and enjoying Him is the Bible, which is the word of God and is made up of the Old and New Testaments.
Q35: What is sanctification?
A35: Sanctification is the work of God's free grace by which our whole person is made new in the image of God, and we are made more and more able to become dead to sin and alive to righteousness.
Although it will take us fully 2.5 years to cover the whole book, by the end the kids will have explored the nature and purposes of God, the truths of the Trinity, the purpose of man, the nature and consequences of sin, the requirements and consequences of redemption .... what a wonderful foundation to be able to provide for you children.
I enthusiastically encourage all Christian parents to consider using this book or some other form of the catechism to train up their children. This is part of their spiritual heritage and will be part of the legacy which you will leave to them.
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.