What are Family Devotions?
Family Devotions is a time for a family to come together, at home, for a time of prayer, Bible reading, and focusing their hearts together on God. It is a time set aside, each week to allow for the family to seek God.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home…” Deuteronomy 6:5-7
This passage begins with the first and greatest commandment, and notice what comes right after the command, “Impress them on your children.” As parents, we are to take the primary responsibility to teach our children about God, his promises for our lives, and help them discover the plan he has for their lives. We cannot pass this primary responsibility off on our churches, children and youth ministry programs, or relatives; but rather we need to use those outside influences to reinforce what we are teaching at home.
Implementing a Family Devotional time each week (at a regular time, if possible) will allow your children to see the value you place in this time together. It will provide you the opportunity to draw closer together as a family begin building Biblical foundations founded on Truth for your family, and for your children’s lives. If you are fortunate enough to be starting while your children are still young, your Family Devotional time will evolve along with your family. If your children are older, this time may seem akward or uncomfortable at first, but within a few weeks it will become a new routine for your family. It will also be an avenue for which you can begin discussing any changes/goals you want to set for our family in the future.
One hesitation many Christian families have about beginning Family Devotions is that they feel like they “need to have it all together” in order to lead their children; when in all actuality it can be the process of sharing your struggles openly (ex. lack of patience, priorities out of line, struggles at work, etc.) that can allow for your children to have the opportunity to pray for you and watch as the Lord begins to change your heart. What a great way for a family to grow together and begin each new week!
Outline of our weekly devotions:
The purpose of the activity section is to provide an illustration or talking point for a discussion. Some of the activities are geared towards different age groups, but when at all possible it is beneficial to do the activities together as a family. Feel free to modify the activity, add on, or change it completely in a way that would better fit your family.
When just starting out, this can be one area that makes people a little nervous. It also may be an area that you may choose to add to your Family Devotional time at a later time. The great thing about beginning with younger kids is that singing doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be effective. Singing will help the family enter into a focused time of Family Devotions. The songs don’t always need to correspond to the topic for the week, although those songs can help to focus the family together. If you do not feel confident in your ability to lead singing, don’t worry, you can use a worship CD, have your children pick a few favorite songs, or find songs online (most artists post their songs on youtube with videos). Getting into the habit of singing together will allow you and your children to be more confident in singing together, and in return, enter into worship together.
3. Bible Reading
This is your opportunity to bring the Bible to life for your children, and show them its relavancy in their lives. We encourage you to get excited about this time because in fact, you are providing them the source that holds the only Truth our world has to offer! Reading the Bible allows God to speak, through his word, to us and our children. When your children are younger, it’s best to use Bibles and scripture that has been formatted for their specific age (look at the Christian Resources post to see some recommendations that we have posted). As they get older, begin to change the Bible version you use. This will allow your children to grow in wisdom Biblically as they grow physically.
4. Family Discussion
The family discussion time will focus on questions that deal with the activity as well as the Bible reading. It’s a good idea to review the whole lesson before beginning to do the devotions as a family. Some of the discussion questions may challenge you to search for some clear answers before you have your family devotions. Try to anticipate the way that your children are going to answer, and be sure to think of follow-up questions that you could ask or they might ask. Don’t be intimidated if you children have questions you can’t answer off hand, rather tell them what a great question they have and that you will look into that for next week. Be sure to allow for God to guide your discussion time. Don’t stress about trying to get through each question. If you are having a great discussion based on a specific question, follow that line of discussion because it may be God leading you.
Prayer is an important part of family devotions. The prayer time will look different based on the makeup of your family. With younger kids, the prayer time might be focused on finishing sentence prayers ‘Thank you God for…’ or ‘God please help…’ As they get older, their prayers will mature. This is a great time to share with them some prayer requests that you have as a parent. Allowing your children to see that you are dependent on God will make it easier for them to develop that sense of dependency as well. Below is a basic format you can use for your prayer time:
A- Adoration (telling God how great he is)
C-Confession (confess things that you have done or thought)
T-Thanksgiving (thank God)
S-Supplication (present your requests to God)
6. Extention Activities/Discussion Starters for the Week
Finally, the extension activities/discussion starters for the week are designed to help you keep discussing the topic throughout the week (such as at dinner or in the car). This will allow for you as a family to continue to engage in subject spiritual discussions. Each family is different; when and where your choose to do the extension activities/discussion starters will vary. Doing these will also reinforce the importance of what you are doing during the weekly devotional.
A word of encouragement…
This might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but don’t stress! If you have never done Family Devotions, start off small: pick one or two of the components above and go from there. Consistency is the key; it will show your family that these devotional times are important to you and your family. Above all, make sure that you enjoy the time together! Sometimes things can get so busy that there seems to be little time for family. This is a time you can guard and create into something that you can look forward to all week! We encourage you to make it your own!