Are you intimidated by the phrase “family devotions”? Do you have a specific picture in mind of what that means? Have you wanted or intended to start, but just DON’T or can’t make yourself? Or has your time grown stagnant and you need some fresh ideas? Let me give you a few reasons you WANT to be having family devotions and jump start the process.
- Even if you aren’t having devotions twice a day religiously, by having them with some regularity, you are establishing a GOOD HABIT that will serve your family well in the years to come. Don’t poo-poo good habits. They carry us far.
- By creating a safe place for kids to read and pray aloud- you are EQUIPPING them to share God’s Word with and pray for others. If one kid is sick, invite the others to lay a hand on their shoulder and pray for them. Just be sure you aren’t following the 10 Surefire Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Family Devotions guidelines! (It is a convicting and ENCOURAGING read!)
- Having a even a short devo time will help you to fight the urge to let your church, Christian school, or other spiritual activity bear the responsibility for “training up your child in the way they should go” by default. By reading the Word and teaching your kids the Lord’s Prayer, 10 Commandments, etc- you will establish a firm foundation for all their other activities to build upon.
- Take the opportunity to do a little character and worldview formation. Branch out from Our Daily Bread and have a chat about respect, humility, or responsibility.
- As your children near the “coming of age” season, the habit of family devotions will provide a natural time to talk about some things they are encountering, choices friends are making, choices that will approach them. Having an established time where you talk about life and about what God’s Word says about living this life will help you to be the one leading your kids, not their friends.
- Having a regular time to sit down together and communicate in a healthy manner sets an excellent precedent for your children’s future marriages. People who love each other sit down together for at least few minutes each day, share God’s Word, talk, and pray together.
A great life principle that applies here as well is KISS- Keep It Super Simple. Don’t blow this up in your mind as “Something I just can’t do”. You can’t read a few paragraphs? Can’t read a prayer written out for you? SURE YOU CAN!!! Can’t say, “Hey guys come listen to this cool new song I heard” (and show them a worship song on YouTube). It doesn’t have to be formal, rigid, or stuffy. It doesn’t need high or lofty language. You just need to purposefully gather your family around the Word regularly. Probably NOT as you’re tossing plates in the sink on the way out the door to soccer practice and ballet.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says it like this: “Impress them [God’s commandments] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” So, generally the “devotions” are the sitting at home and when you lie down part! But this is a good reminder to keep His Word in the forefront whatever we’re doing, not just during “DEVOTIONS”!
John Piper at DiscoveringGod.org breaks it down pretty simply. Check out what his family does.
AGES & STAGES:
If you have little ones in high chairs and booster seats, family devotion may just look like helping them practice listening quietly to a Scripture or story for five minutes and then sing a song together. Don’t underestimate their ability to memorize Scripture, either! Try saying the same Scripture to them for a few days in a row, you’ll see how quickly they pick it up and repeat it. Doing that regularly will help them begin developing self- control. And BONUS! It will teach them how to listen quietly in church and other times that PARAMOUNT skill is required.
As you move into the childhood years, maybe you move to the sofa after dinner and read a Bible story, sing a song or two, and pray together. Then as the kiddos blossom into teens and tweens you can build on that sturdy foundation to dig deep, challenge them, and have a lot of FUN, too!
Your tweens and teens are ripe for games, role play, ethical situations, and equipping them with some knowledge before they encounter challenges common to their age and generation- always keeping the Word as the bedrock of your conversations.
Things we’ve used and like:
- The Jesus Storybook Bible. I’ve used a LOT of children’s Bibles in the last 15 years. This is my favorite! I also enjoyed the Rhyme Bible, Jesus Calling, and The Beginner’s Bible.
- Luther’s Small Catechism. No joke!
- Intoxicated on Life has purposeful resources for family and for homeschool. We’re just starting a *FREE* study on “Foundations”.
- How God used a Thunderstorm (series)
- Inspirational books from Max Lucado to Psalm 91 miracles. We read a little bit a few nights a week, chat about it, andclose in prayer before bed.
What are you waiting for? Grab your kids and your favorite Bible or Bible storybook and READ! PRAY! 🙂 Play a game or snuggle before bed. Hopefully if you were intimidated by the term “devotions” this will help you knock down that idea that it’s “too much”. Maybe you realize you’re already doing devotions with your family and didn’t even recognize it! Either way, I’m praying for you to JUMP THE HURDLE and get started! Please, let me know how it goes.