FAMILY DEVOTIONS. What image does that phrase evoke for you? Do you smile as your think of your own family habits? Do you cringe knowing that you’re not doing what you probably should be doing? Did you think, “I have no idea how to lead family devos” or “why do we need to do that?” Did you (like me) remember growing up with post-devotion consequences because of too much giggling or inattention?! 🙂
Regardless what image or memories come to mine, family devotions are an indispensable part of a family that wants to be strong in their faith! I gotta say that I am very proud of our family regarding family devotions in 2017! This has been our best year yet, as far as actually having regular family devotional time. The fact that we have read 85 out of 100 Bible stories, as well as 175 pages in a Christian autobiography just thrills me! If the only “Christian” thing we do in our homes is attend church Sunday mornings, then that is all we are passing on to our children (and research shows that they might not even do that when they are grown). It makes such a difference to prioritize even a little time each day to tell our kiddos that God is our primary focus! Daily devotions (or even “every-other-daily”) help us to remember WHO is most important, and reminds us that the Christian walk is about our every day living, not just our Sunday church attendance.
I am not a “Family Devotions Expert” but I wanted to share what has worked for our family this year and maybe it will give you some ideas and inspiration for creating or enhancing this habit in your home.
Make sure the devotional is age-appropriate.
We definitely are doing that. Our current read is Step into the Bible – 100 Bible Stores for Family Devotions by Ruth Graham. It includes 100 short, easy-to-read stories, concluding with a few comprehension questions and a memory verse. It is perfect for young children, and now our seven year old will read it to her younger siblings. We have kind of lagged on regular devotions and I am thrilled that we are on Step (story) 85! It also includes some tips for parents when addressing more difficult topics like death and sin. A wonderful section in the back is entitled “Life in New Testament Times” and informs children what the culture was like back in the time that these stories occurred. Along with this, let’s not forget to often use the actual Bible in our reading times together! It’s so easy to use the children’s versions with compiled stories, but is so important to also take some time to read straight from the Bible even if it might be a little more challenging to understand.
Secondly, select something that’s not necessarily age-appropriate.
So, my second point is opposite of my first point! What about choosing something that will stretch your children’s thinking, vocabulary, empathy, and grasp of Scripture and Christian character? Something that will cause them wonder or concern or sadness. Maybe even shock or amazement. Maybe incredible inspiration, challenge or conviction. (And that might not just be for the children; it might be for us parents too!)
We are also doing that right now! We are 175 pages through Kisses from Katie, the fascinating true recounting of a young woman living out God’s love amidst the abandoned, poor and needy children in Uganda. The book is subtitled “A story of Relentless Love and Redemption.” Our girls are 7, almost 6 & 4 1/2, and THEY LOVE IT.
They are amazed to think of sick children sleeping on dirt floors. Concerned about the children not even having one healthy meal a day. Astounded that parents have to pay to sent their kids to school and so many cannot afford it. Flabbergasted by the fact that Katie Davis adopted 12 children while in her early 20’s. Challenged to hear of Katie’s total reliance on and trust in God. Pondering how they might serve God through reaching out to others.
Many times Lilly (5) interrupts me to say, “What does that mean?” and I explain before continuing the tale. Katie’s heart for the Lord is impacting my girls, and me and my husband too! Her name is frequently brought up. Sometimes by me, as in, “What do you think Kisses from Katie would think about you wanting more toys when you already have so many?” And, sometimes, my girls will say it to me, “Mommy, what would Katie Davis think about your complaining?”
So, why not mix it up with something age appropriate and also something that will really inspire and grow our families?
Finally, I love having a special conclusion to our devotional times.
We started doing that this year, and that repeated “ritual” provides a special kind of bonding, unifying routine. We conclude each family time by saying The Lord’s Prayer together and then singing the Doxology. (It only takes about two minutes and this ending is something we can do together before “lights out” even if we have not been able to get to devotions). I think this will be a special tradition that will always be a part of the Walker family.
Those are my thoughts on family devotions. I’d love to hear your thoughts, routines and the materials you are using. If you have not been doing family devotions, I encourage you to start today! God bless!!!
P.S. Kisses from Katie is truly one of the most extraordinary stories/books I have ever read. I cannot recommend it more highly as a book to read together as a family whether your kiddos are 3, 13 or 23! We are so excited that her new book comes out this Fall!!!