If you ask Christian parents one thing they wish they had done with their children, the answer for many would be family devotionals. The idea of your family sitting around the fire reading and sharing from God’s words seems like the ideal of the godly family.
Our lives are filled with obligations, extra curricular activities and church ministries. We are often hard pressed to find the time to eat together. Work and sleep schedules may mean your child doesn’t even see a parent for a day or so because she is sleeping when the parent leaves and returns from the office. Honestly some weeks are so hectic in our house, I feel we have accomplished something spiritual if we are able to find our Bibles in time to take them to church! The idea of a family devotional time seems to be an unrealistic goal left over from a time when life was slower.
I want to encourage you to try and make the time for family worship. I really believe this is especially important when your child is very young. Before he learns to read, it is important he hears daily Bible lessons from his parents. Devotionals are also a great time to teach your child that Bible lessons have practical applications in daily life.
There are great devotional books you can purchase to use with your family. Most take less than five minutes a day to read a scripture, its application and even have some discussion. If you want to get more involved, there are some that have great hands-on activities to reinforce the lesson from the devotional.
Two series our family enjoyed were the Family Night Tool Chest series by Heritage Builders and Family Devotionals by Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell also has a great series of workbooks and leader guides from his Right and Wrong series on making right choices. At several points when our daughter was young we just took various children’s Bibles and read stories from them. We talked about the story after we read it to make sure she understood what happened and why.
Devotional time is also a great way to see a glimpse of your child’s heart as you ask for her prayer requests. You can get an idea of her Bible knowledge as she answers questions about the stories you read together. Most importantly, you are teaching her that worshiping God as a family is important enough to make time in your day for it.
Please don’t be discouraged as you attempt to have family devotionals. It may take several false starts before you find a time your family can have family devotionals consistently. You may even want to start slowly and make Friday night (or any other night) family devotional night. Choose one of the books with activities and make it an evening of fun and worship as a family. I think you and your children will look back on devotional times as some of your most fond family memories.