By Harold L. Senkbeil
12.02.2022 | Min Read

Most of us know this text by heart: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18-20).

All life long, Christians continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). But such knowledge is more than head knowledge. Even demons know that God is real (Ja. 2:19). What we’re after is heart knowledge. Our goal, like the apostle’s, is “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-10).

That sort of learning begins early and continues throughout life. No matter how much of the Word of God you grasp, there’s always more to learn. In fact, it can never be completely mastered, for it “surpasses knowledge.”

What to do, then, when it comes to teaching people to observe everything the Lord Jesus has laid down for us? Historically the church’s answer has been the catechism. 

The Goal of Catechesis

The goal of catechesis is not merely intellectual, but experiential. The process is designed to help Christians drink more deeply of the Word of God. Roman Catholics have used a catechism for centuries. Reformed Christians have the Heidelberg Catechism, Lutherans their Large and Small Catechisms, and the Anglican communion includes a catechism in their Book of Common Prayer; catechisms come in all shapes and sizes.

What all these catechisms have in common is that they are built on certain key texts of the Christian faith: The Ten Commandments, The Apostles’ Creed, and The Lord’s Prayer. All the complexities of Christian doctrine rest on a simple foundation, writes St. Paul: Faith, Hope, and Love (1 Cor 13:13). The Apostles’ Creed is a summary of the faith the Bible teaches and we as Christians believe. The Lord’s Prayer is the very prayer by which Jesus teaches us to pray in confident hope of the victory yet to come. The Decalogue teaches us the way of love that God commands and that shapes the life of faith.

If you’ve been looking for a way to incorporate the word of God and prayer into the daily routine of your household, consider the new FatCat series from Lexham Press. They’re kid-friendly and Jesus-centered. They will help you dialog with your children about the faith and teach them from young on to know and love God’s Word just as the people of God did long ago: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 6:6–7).

In fact, try this for yourself. Recite these words out loud till they become part of you, echoed in your prayers and reflected in your lives. You’re never too old to learn God’s word anew; so recite and rehearse it with your children just as the reformer Martin Luther did long ago: 

“Although I’m indeed an old doctor, I never move on from the childish doctrine of the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. I still daily learn and pray them with my little Hans and my little Lena.”

Aim Deeper

So by all means teach your children the Word of God and its meaning. But while you’re at it, aim deeper than just their heads. Plant it deeply in their hearts (Ps 119:11) and it will reap a harvest when they are old and gray (Prov. 22:6).