One of the highlights of our day together as a family was family devotions. This was not always the case and I’ll share with you how it transpired for us. From the beginning of our marriage , I really wanted to have devotions as a family.
My husband has a very private relationship with the Lord and for him, it wasn’t something he felt pressed to do. I waited and prayed. I know God didn’t want me to bug him about it, so I quietly asked God to help us know what to do.
In 1988, my husband attended the Trinity Pastors Conference in Montville, NJ and it changed his life. During that time, the Lord spoke to him about having family devotions. From that day forward, we began to have family devotion daily.
Over the years it took various forms because of the children’s ages, etc. We primarily used the Bible and would read systematically through a book of Scripture. We would go around the table and each person would read a verse. Any child who could read, took a verse, and the non-readers, would repeat their verse after us. So everyone was included in the reading.
Please don’t think this just happened perfectly every day. We had disaster days, where the kids were fussy, not paying attention, fighting with each other, etc. But we kept at it, and over time they learned the routine, and it became a wonderful habit at the end of family dinner. I had a special shelf or basket in the dining room for the Bibles, everyone had their own, and we would read together. Todd would give a short explanation of the passage and we would pray. Short, simple, but a consistent habit.
I can truly say the Lord blessed our feeble efforts. As the children got older we would have wonderful discussions about daily life, spiritual truths, and at times, very significant conversations. If there was something going on in the family we needed to address, we’d gear the devotions around that. If some tragedy happened, we would gear devotions around that.
At times we’d separate younger kids from older boys so Todd could have a heart to heart with the boys. The book of Proverbs was read often as it directed us how to live as God’s people. We gave a lot of direction to the children on what to look for in a spouse. We knew this would be one of the biggest decisions they would make in their lives and it was important for us to give them guidance as to how to choose a mate. We often would discuss what to look for in a spouse that would give them a happy marriage and blessed life. As a side, in the last 15 mos, we’ve had 4 of our children get married and they have chosen quality spouses that have been a blessing to their lives and the entire family. (I can’t help but believe that the groundwork for them as they were looking for spouses was laid in those years of family devotions and teaching on marriage.)
There also were times we would discuss current events and use that as a springboard for our devotions. For example, if abortion was in the news, or some big tragedy happened, we would see what God’s word had to say about those things. We wanted our children to know that the Bible is sufficient for life and practice. 2 Timothy 3:15.
Some other things we did for family devotions, when the children were very young was to use a picture bible for children. We also did Bible memorization at times, memorizing as a family as well as Catechism questions.
Another thing we did was to sing hymns. I want to say this was one of the richest things we could have done for our children. To this day, our children LOVE hymns. They love to attend churches that sing hymns. In our culture, sadly, many churches have done away with hymns, much to their detriment. The theology behind many hymns is rich and has a depth that is hard to find in the praise songs of today. I am not against praise and worship music. I love music, all types of praise music, but hymnology has a richness that I am so thankful our children appreciate.
Please understand, I don’t want you to think we did ALL of these things all the time. Not at all. These were some of the things we did over a 35 year period. Sometimes it was very basic with just a couple verses and a short prayer. Other times, the spiritual depth and the things that were on the kid’s hearts led us to a long devotions time and just discussing spiritual things. But it’s the daily discipline of having devotions that gave our children a rich heritage.
So I just encourage you to start, just begin. Simple at first, gear it to their ages, and the Lord will bless your efforts. Please share with me how your family has devotions, what it looks like, how you are working to convey your faith to your children. I’d love to hear how its going. Consistent and persistent is the key. God bless you!