What feelings well up inside when the words “family devotions” are said? Fear? Apprehension? Dread? Obligation? Do you imagine a half hour of frustration while you try to keep the little ones still? Can you picture your teen rolling their eyes as they let out a sigh?
Hopefully, none of those feelings or ideas pop into your head. Whether they do or not, however, family devotions are a great way to bring your children together to grow in love with the Lord together. Last week we discussed the why’s of family devotions; today we’ll be learning some simple steps to put them into practice within your home. The “how to’s” of family devotions.
1. Set a Consistent Time
Most things in life happen on a schedule. From doctor’s appointments to teacher meetings, haircuts to dinner with friends, we nearly always set a time and place for events. Family devo’s are no different. They will not simply occur without forethought. Pick a time for your devotions that is doable for your entire family. It may be after breakfast each morning; immediately following supper; right before bedtime; or you may say three nights a week at seven; or Tuesday nights become family nights that begin with devos. Do what works for your family, but be consistent. This helps everyone plan around this important family time. Your son has no excuse that he has homework to do instead when he knew that devo’s were already planned. Make sure you choose a time when your family is alert and free from distractions. If family devotions are new to your family, you may want to start with once a week. I’d definitely recommend working up to several days a week for full devotions and maybe smaller ones on the weekends.
2. Pick a Place
Choose a spot in your home that is free from distractions, has plenty of light, and allows family involvement. Dining room tables and living rooms work well. Turn off electronics and don’t answer the phone during this time.
3. Allow Father’s to Lead
As the God-ordained spiritual leader of home, dad should be leading devotions. This does NOT mean that mom can’t help with topic choices, gathering the children, or offering wisdom, but it does mean that dad clearly leads and is not drug into devotions by mom! What a way for husbands to love their wives and show their love for their families and the Lord than by assuming the lead in devotions. Of course, if mom can/wants to lead devotions sometime during the day while dad is at work, she can. But, dad still needs to lead the entire family in time with the Lord at other times during the week.
4. Choose a Topic and Use your Bible
- Maybe your family is experiencing a trial or about to go through a huge transition. Discuss what God says about it in His word.
- Topical studies are fun. Go through the Bible to learn about obedience (always a needed topic for kids and parents!), giving, faith, diligence, prayer, etc.
- Read through a book of the Bible together.
- Highlight heroes of the faith both in the Bible and in history.
- Read excerpts of a biography of a Christian leader with character.
- Study difficult passages.
- Go through a Children’s Bible
- Ask your kids what they would like to learn about. You may be surprised at what they desire.
- Make sure to use your Bible. Even if you know the story by heart or have a passage memorized, by opening the word you are able to show your children what God himself said (not just dad), and it shows that you submit to God’s word.
Devotions are a great time to model prayer for your family. Prayer is an excellent way for your family to be drawn together too. Here are some prayer ideas:
- Have each person pray in turns.
- Have each person pick someone else in the family to pray for.
- When each person prays, have them say one praise, one request, and one confession.
- Pray for something specific each day of the week:
- Sunday: Pastor, church, missionaries
- Monday: The sick and needy
- Tuesday: Government leaders
- Wednesday: Family and relatives
- Thursday: Neighbors and friends
- Friday: Thanksgiving and praise
- Saturday: Unsaved
- Keep a prayer journal with requests. What an amazing testament to God’s faithfulness this will be to your children!
6. Involve the Family
- When reading a passage, have each family member read a section.
- Have younger children draw a picture of the passage/story being read.
- Use object lessons
- Create plays with the Bible story
- Have a weekly memory verse
- Sing songs together
7. Apply the Lesson
Ask questions about a passage:
- What is God saying to the people to whom this passage was written?
- What is God saying to us?
- How can we apply this as a family? as individuals?
- What can we specifically do before the next family devotion to live this out?
Make sure to follow up with each person at the next devo time to see who did/did not apply a truth. See what they learned. Praise your children throughout the day if you see them living out a lesson. Reference back to devo time during the day if they need some personal discipleship.
8. Make it Fun
Family devotions should be an enjoyable time, not something to be dreaded by your children. Work with your kids ages and learning abilities. Devotions may only be 10 min with younger children, but could certainly be longer with older kids. Ask lots of questions about what your learning and use some of the ideas listed above. If you have fun with learning about God, it will definitely help your children do better. If your kids do seem bored, don’t be afraid to try something new. But, be careful not to completely cater to them or to stop devo’s all together if they seem to not be enjoying them.
9. Just do it!
Family devotions can be hard and overwhelming, but the benefits are eternal! The easiest way to make them happen is to just do it! Open your Bible, gather the family, read, and pray. When you do, know that you are not only living in obedience to Christ, but you are impacting your future and the future of your kids.
Hopefully this lengthy post encourages you. Let me know what some of your ideas are for family devotions. Stay tuned later this week for some personal devotion testimonies.