Family devotionals are tough. We all have the best of intentions, but it seems like most of us accomplish family devotionals sporadically at best. One of the problems is keeping it interesting for kids and easy for parents. So, I’m always on the lookout for family devotional resources to help.
Recently, I was offered the opportunity to review 52 Weekly Devotionals For Busy Families by Karen Whiting. This great devotional guide is brand new and could provide just what you have been wanting. For me, the best part is that it is divided into weekly devotionals, but not daily ones within that framework. Which means you can stay on track – and not become discouraged – if you have a crazy week and only one devotional or a more normal week when you have five or six devotionals.
Within each devotional, the reader is given a theme verse for the week and a longer scripture reference of about a chapter or less. The longer scripture is usually connected to a Bible story. Whiting provides a short devotional reading similar to what you are familiar with in other devotional books. What I really appreciate though is that she took the effort to add three or more activity ideas, two or more ideas for creating a family devotional journal or scrapbook and three or more discussion prompts.
The author also provides a weekly family “beatitude” along the lines of “Happy is the family…” underscoring the theme for the week. In case you are still confused, she provides the focus in a separate spot. There is also a “wrap-up” and she provides a written prayer.
What I really appreciated is that at the beginning of the book, she didn’t jump right into the devotionals, but addressed some important areas which can cause issues. One of my favorites were her tips for families with a parent who travels a lot on business (frankly in many cases her tips would also work with a parent stuck at the office during devotional time). I love the idea of including the “absent” parent for both the parents and the kids. She also provides some tips on getting your kids excited about the idea of family devotionals. I would also add for those of you doing more than one devotional a week you probably want to find more Bible stories for the theme or repeat the reading (or parts of it) so it is firmly ingrained in your kids.
The topics vary widely and fall into what I think are two main categories. The first are the devotionals which encourage healthy family habits like listening to each other, having family goals, showing affection, etc. The other devotionals encourage healthy spiritual family habits like prayer, forgiveness and having a biblical worldview.
The lessons and activities are structured to appeal to a wide range of ages. Because you have so many choices, you can choose the things that appeal to your family or that you have the time for that particular week. There is no pressure to do everything under each devotional entry.
I’m sure the idea of journalling or scrapbooking your family devotionals may seem over the top to some. I love it though. I think it’s a great way to capture family memories and faith moments to look back on later. I would say if you have more than one child, this could be uncomfortable later as your kids fight over “custody” of the finished book as adults. Do yourself a favor and buy an inexpensive journal or scrapbook for each child. If they can write, let them each record the answers, etc. so you aren’t writing the same thing multiple times. For younger ones, capture an important sentence or two and let them draw an illustration of what they learned/understood, etc.
My only negatives are so minor they almost aren’t worth mentioning – except for one. At one point, the author mentions something about keeping track of which prayers God answers. She sort of corrects that impression another week, but I think it needs to be made crystal clear to children that God always answers the prayers of His people. They need to understand God can say “No” and “Wait”, but those are also answers from God. (I will let her slide on the fact that she believes people still have answering machines and kids know what they are!)
Over all, this is one of my favorite family devotional books. I only saw the e-book version, so I can’t tell you much about the esthetics of the actual book. The electronic version is easy on the eyes and would travel well on family vacations. I think if any devotional book can improve your family devotional life, this may be the one.
P.S. I found out about this book through Rose Publishing. They aren’t paying me for this, but if you give them your email address, you get regular emails giving you free e-charts on lots of helpful topics. (Make sure to scroll down far enough in the email as the beginning is something they want to sell.
A copy of this book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review. An affiliate link is included for your convenience.