Family Devotions. Just the phrase itself might stir up a myriad of feelings to rise up within us – guilt, inadequacy, fear, uncertainty, and many more. But wait, don’t run! I understand, I’ve been there myself – stay with me here.
Choose to put those feelings to rest. Take a deep breath. Know that YOU CAN do this – and it’s important – it’s vital – for you, for your children, and for your family.
I write this for myself – as a reminder that it is possible to live this out, for it to become a normal part of our family life and what we do, grounding us more deeply in what we stand for.
And, I write this for you – for those who have struggled for years to just know where to begin, or how to find consistency , for those whose lives are just too busy to fit it in, for those who have wondered why it’s really so important anyway, for those who honestly admit to leaving all spiritual matters safely within the confines of the “church.”
We do so many good things for our families through long years. We care for them, provide for them, teach them, discipline them, coach them. We tote our children around to endless activities and sports. We help them with homework and encourage them towards success in all that they do. We ensure they are eating healthy and keep up to date on appointments with doctors, dentists, and health professionals. We plan playdates, vacations, and fun outings. We might even consistently bring them to church – once a month – once a week – maybe even twice! So, why add one more thing to the already overbooked, over-filled calendar of the typical busy family?
Because it is the BEST thing you can do for your family.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…” Deuteronomy 11:18-20
You might be asking, what is it anyway? Family devotions are simply this – a routine time of coming together as an entire family to read and talk about God’s Word and to pray.
That’s it! No Bible Scholars and seminary degrees necessary – it only requires a short segment of time, your family, and the Bible.
10 Tips to help you get started:
1. Start small in your goal and move forward from there. If you were going to run a marathon, you wouldn’t go out on day 1 of training and start by running 26.2 miles! Wouldn’t happen. Couldn’t happen for most of us! The goal is to start small in your training and keep going as you get stronger. The same applies to family devotions – start simple – start small - maybe even just once a week in your plan. Or 3 times a week. Go from there. Just start somewhere!
2. Be consistent. Once you establish your goal, stick with it! Believe me, many things will stand in your way to distract you from the goal of spending that time with your family. Set the distractions aside and be consistent with the time you have decided will work in your family routine.
3. Keep it short. Be brief. This is not a long dissertation of what you believe to be true about the spiritual climate of our generation today. It’s just a simple Bible verse and thought to spur on thinking and teaching in your family! Depending on your children’s ages, keep it to 5 – 10 minutes max, maybe 15, if you have older children who are asking questions or conversations are being stirred up.
4. Be real. No need for Biblical scholars here. Just be you! Open the Bible, find a good family devotional book to follow, or a website or phone app that can help. You don’t even have to think of what to say, there are so many great helps out there for us!
5. Be relevant and age-appropriate. Kids of all ages are facing huge challenges every day in our world. There are things that do concern them. There may be things that are real burdens to them. The Bible is timeless. The stories and truths found through its pages offer wisdom and insight to everyday issues we face even now. Know your kids and what concerns them. Your preschooler may not have a need to study the lineage of Adam, but they might love hearing the story of David and Goliath! Your teen may be struggling with a friend issue at school. Finding verses through the book of Proverbs may help bring wisdom to daily life decisions in how to treat others.
6. Be together. Family devo’s are just that - intended for everyone to get together at one time. This might happen most easily over a mealtime, at breakfast or dinner. For others, evening time, or right before bed seems to be a better fit. Find what works for you and get everyone on board and there!
7. Include everyone. These times are meant to foster communication, stir up honest answers, or present new questions. Don’t feel like one person needs to do all of the leading and talking. Let someone read, ask questions, wait for others to answer, play a game, act out a story, sing a song together, ask your kids to pray one sentence prayers at the end, just to get things started. Set aside this time as God’s time – put away the technology, turn off the cell phones and TV. Bottom line – make sure everyone is a part of this time! Limit the distractions around you.
8. Be creative – think outside the box. A family devo time can happen anywhere – at home, in the car, on a walk, etc… Don’t get stuck in a pre-conceived mindset of how you “think” it must be. Sometimes our best family times have been more spur of the moment, teachable moments that have occurred in the day, or conversations spurred on while traveling in the car. Have a plan – but be free to think creative thoughts too!
9. Be flexible. If you miss a day, or week, or lose that consistency, it’s OK. But get back on track and get going again! Sometimes dads, or moms, travel with work, sometimes certain weeks of life are just crazy busy, but do your best to stick to the goal. If things get out of sync, don’t sit and wallow in guilt, make it a point to start afresh!
10. Have fun. Avoid the trap of being super spiritual, ultra serious. Incorporate fun ways to learn truths from the Bible. Laugh. Kids will begin to look forward to these times together and may begin to remind you if you’ve missed. It’s a tradition your child will treasure in life.
Why do it? The long-term benefits are real, lasting, and powerful. Over time, we are consistently:
Teaching God’s truth.
Establishing a Christ-focused home.
Acting as a unity builder in your family.
Modeling an example for children to follow.
Don’t miss it. Become a stronger TEAM in your family by establishing spiritual foundations from within your home. It doesn’t, it can’t, all happen from within the church. It certainly doesn’t all happen at school. And, as we all feel very assured of, it will never naturally happen in the world either. God has given you great influence as parents to these precious treasures in your home. Make the choice. Take a stand. He will help you succeed!
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15