When our daughter was younger, we were determined to have family devotionals. We would start having them at a certain time and inevitably within a week or so, something would happen to make the time slot we had chosen unworkable in the future. Or we would actually finish a family devotional book and not be able to find something new we liked. Or my husband would have to go out of town, making it a mommy and one child devo. Or it seemed like we weren’t at home from morning until bed time for several days in a row.
There are so many seemingly valid reasons why we don’t have family devotionals in our homes. I think part of the problem is it just sounds intimidating. We think we have to do this big formal thing with everyone in the family present, and it must resemble those “fancy” Bible studies we get at Church.
I am going to free you from all of those fears and misconceptions. Instead of anything formal, have an “As You Go” family devotional. How does an “As You Go” family devotional work?
- Pick a leader. In the beginning you may want to make the parent who is with the children the most the designated leader. Or parents may want to take turns alternating days or weeks. Once your kids catch on, add them to the rotation.
- Do not pick a specific time. You heard me. The biggest cause for failed family devotionals is the concept they have to be at the same time every day. Instead, I want the leader for the day to commit to the study happening sometime before bed time. The leader should choose a time when a quorum of the family is together. If Dad is working late, the devo still happens. If Johnny has a sleepover, the rest of the family still has a devo. If Katie is late for breakfast or isn’t in the car when the quorum is present, the devotional still happens. If you are finding one family member is consistently missing devotionals, adjust your times to make sure that family member is present (even if it means others are absent or a change in leaders.)
- Find a random object. Want your kids to get excited about devotional time? Allow them to pick the object and hand it to the leader. It can be anything. Once your kids understand the concept, expect the objects to be obscure.
- The leader then tells or reads the Bible story or scriptures of which the object reminds them. If your kids are starting to lead, watch out for a tendency to fall back on the same story (Noah,etc.) An adult may have to step in and suggest a new story for the child to read and tell. If your schedule is more relaxed, you may allow the object to be chosen early in the day and then give the child time to find a new Bible story to go with the object.
- After the scriptures are read or discussed, make sure to have an application moment. In one or two sentences discuss with your children what the passage teaches us about God’s principles or what we learn about how we are to live our lives. This step is crucial. Reading the Bible without applying it to our lives, does about as much good as if we had daily newspaper devotionals. Make sure your children understand the connection between the Bible and what they do every day.
Still a little confused? Suppose your family is at the ball field waiting for a child’s practice to begin. The object you are handed is a blade of grass. My mind would go straight to the passage about God taking care of the birds’ needs, so we shouldn’t be anxious. Your object is a cloud? How about the time God passed in front of Moses and placed his hand over the eyes of Moses? A cookie? How about the Lord’s prayer during the Sermon on the Mount (daily bread!)?
The connections don’t really matter. In fact, if they are a little convoluted it may make the devotional even more memorable. Keep the object in view while you are reading the scripture or even let your kids handle it. Every time they see a shell, it may remind them of the devotional when the object was a shell and you discussed Jesus fixing breakfast and forgiving Peter.
Try the “As You Go” devotionals for awhile and let me know if the more relaxed nature helped you be more consistent. What was the most interesting object someone was handed or the scriptures to which it was tied? I would love for you to share your experiences with us in a comment below!