I love the quote I read in a bulletin once, “Blessed is the family who begins family devotions again.” I could relate to that comment. Before we discuss how to have a family devotion time, we need to ask the question, “Why should we have a family devotion?” In Proverbs 22:6 we read, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Churches cannot be the only ones teaching our children about God. We need to teach them the other 6 days of the week.
For many of us the idea of family devotions may seem time consuming or you don’t know what you should do. Yet, there is nothing more important than teaching our children about God.
I would like to give you some ideas based on the ages of your children.
Birth – Age 2
Even infants can hear about God’s love. You can sing songs like Jesus Loves Me to your children as your rock them to sleep. When you talk with them in the car, you can point out how God made the trees, etc. When your children are around age 1 or a little older you can get them a small children’s book of Bible stories and read one story before going to bed. My children had certain stories that were their favorites and we read them each night.
Children this age can begin to learn how to pray. At night when you are putting them to bed you can say, ”Let’s tell God what we are thankful for.” I would start by saying thank you God for ___________ and my children would fill in the blank. You will hear some very funny and wonderful things to be thankful for. You can still at this age get a children’s Bible story book to read as well.
An excellent website I have found for several ages is www.heritagebuilders.com. They have tools to help you with family devotions. One is the Family Night Tool Chest. Your family acts out or does an activity that can relate back to a Biblical principal. The activities are fun and make a lasting impression on your children. You can also find devotional books for children at most Christian bookstores. You can begin deepening their faith at this age and also pointing out their sin and need for a Savior. You can begin memorizing Bible verses together. Children this age can memorize better than adults.
During these ages, you need to begin studying the Scripture more in depth with your child. You can pick a book of the Bible to read and buy a simple easy commentary like Shepherd’s Notes. They have a commentary for each book of the Bible. You can read a few verses, or allow your children to read the verses, then read the explanation from the Shepherd’s notes. (You can view Shepherd’s notes at www.kimberlychastain.com/Shepherd'sNotes.html). Continue with Bible verse memorization.
Ages 12 -18
At these ages family devotions are still very important, yet children also now need to be developing their own quiet time. You can help them with that by getting special devotional books for teens. There are many out there at the Christian Bookstores. Here are a few samples you can look at by going to http://www.kimberlychastain.com/teendevote.html. You could even let your teen lead the devotion time one night. Teens may balk at wanting to do devotions, but it is still an important thing to do.
What really do I mean by a family devotion time? Taking 15 minutes to read scripture and talk about what you have read. We need to hide God’s Word in our hearts. You can do it before children go to bed. You can do it at the dinner table after dinner. You can take opportunities in your drive to work and school to talk about God things. When difficult situations arise at school you can talk about how to handle it as a Christian and what does the Bible say to do.
You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m afraid to do this.” Or “I didn’t grow up in a Christian home.” God will be helping you and He lives in you. You will grow as well as you teach the Bible to your children. In James 1:5 we read, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” God will give you the wisdom to teach your children.
Believe me my family has not always been faithful to do family devotions. Hectic schedules get in the way and it is easy to give up. Yet, I take comfort in the quote from the beginning, “Blessed is the family who starts family devotions again.” God is faithful even when we are not. Truly, there is nothing more important than talking to my children about God.
Visit the CWM blog at http://christianworkingmoms.blogspot.com and share your own stories about family devotions. Try this week to spend time with your family teaching and talking about God.
Read more articles by Kimberly Chastain or search for articles on the same topic or others.