Some of you might cringe at the term, remembering stale times around the dinner table listening to a passage of Scripture you didn’t understand and waiting impatiently to finally be able to eat! If that was your experience, let me assure you, that is not what family devotions need to be!
God has given me a passion for His Word, so spending time together as a family in His Word during our devotional time is important to me. However, family devotions aren’t the only component of spiritually investing in our kids. Family devotions are only a piece to the puzzle, but it is an important piece that can be a catalyst for helping our kids learn and love God and His Word.
As important as it is to me to have consistent family devotions, I haven’t always known how to implement them.
What do family devotions look like? How often should we engage in family devotions? How do we get started? As we continue to add to our family and as the kids grow and change, the way we do family devotions changes, but here are some ideas to help you get started.
- START SIMPLE.
If I set a goal of waking up an hour earlier each morning, the most effective way for me to change my habit is to start incrementally. Going cold turkey will only result in exhaustion, failure, and that pervasive feeling that I will never be an early riser.
You could replace the goal of waking up earlier with beginning a running program. If I want to start running, gradually increasing my speed and distance will result in greater success and long-lasting change. Attempting to run five miles (or maybe even one!) right out of the gate is a sure fire way for disappointment, failure, or even injury.
The same can be true of family devotions.
When I first started planning our family devotional time, I imagined elaborate activities followed by deep conversations around the Word of God. Visions of eager-to-learn, compliant, calm children hanging on my every word filled my mind.
What a set-up for disappointment!
My kids are kids! Changing the kids’ routine and our expectations of them are better done gradually and with intention rather than suddenly.
So start small. This will look different for each family, but it may mean you
- start by having family devotions 1x-2x per week or
- set a goal of spending 10 minutes each morning reading a Bible passage and praying together or
- jump start your family’s devotional time by using a devotional centered around a holiday, like Easter, to build momentum or excitement.
It’s okay to start small. Just start somewhere!
- BE REALISTIC.
As you plan your devotional time together, consider the age and activity level of your kids. Some people learn best or focus better while moving; others need stillness and quiet. Some kids will listen more attentively while coloring a picture.
Adjust your activities, the resources you use, and the time you spend according to the needs of your kids and your family. Remember how old your kids are and try to choose age-appropriate activities to help engage your children in the Word of God. I’m not beyond stretching the kids to grow, but understanding my kids’ abilities, interests, and learning styles calibrate my expectations and help me as I plan.
- SET A TIME.
We all know how hectic life is. In our home, if we don’t intentionally set a specific time to gather together, family devotions gets overlooked or crowded out.
Look at your schedule and see what fits best and then make family devotions part of your family’s rhythm. Perhaps it’s every Sunday evening or on Saturday mornings; maybe family devotions happen right before bedtime or around the breakfast table. Find what works best and seek to be consistent.
- HAVE A PLAN.
Your plan doesn’t need to be elaborate, but having an idea of what you’d like to focus on or what you will do during your family devotion time is helpful. If any supplies are needed, gather them ahead of time.
I have found that if I’m not prepared, I’m more likely to skip family devotions or I’ll lose the kids’ attention while I’m scrambling to gather what I need.
Remember, however, that though we may have a plan, God may speak in a way we hadn’t planned! Sometimes the kids will have questions and your conversation may go in a different direction or God might prompt you to sing a song or read a different passage or do something different than you usually do — that’s okay! A plan is helpful, but we want to follow the Spirit’s lead.
- AIM FOR TRANSFORMATION, NOT JUST INFORMATION.
While it’s wonderful for our kids to know Bible stories, remember Bible facts, and retain information about the Bible, our goal in family devotions is not just for our kids to retain information. We want to see life transformation brought about by the Holy Spirit of God!
We cannot manipulate God or force the Holy Spirit to work, but we can ask Him to be at work in and through us and in the hearts and lives of our children. God does not only speak to adults — God speaks to children, too! Part of our responsibility in leading our children spiritually is helping our kids listen to and respond to the Holy Spirit of God.
Don’t complicate this important time together. Ask God to guide you and go get started!
Resources for You:
Resources for Family Devotions — over 20 different resources to help your family spend time together in God’s Word
Clean on the Inside: A Family Devotional for Holy Week — Over the past two years, thousands of families have used this resource to help draw their hearts closer to Jesus during the week leading up to Easter.
The Dig for Kids — written by For the Family founders, Pat and Ruth Schwenk, this is a great resource to help your kids dig into Scripture!
(copied from http://forthefamily.org/start-family-devotions/)