Family Devotions

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When our kids were younger, we read the Bible as a family at dinnertime. At least we tried. As our kids got older that got harder. Just having meals together was harder but even when we were all together it could be a challenge. Some days the older kids weren’t home from a sports practice or play practice yet. The younger kids needed to do their reading minutes or other homework. We should have always made devotions a priority but we didn’t.

Maybe your family is like mine. I recently was asked if I had any idea what percentage of families are doing family devotions. I don’t know the answer to that. (If you are aware of any statistics about family devotions, please let me know in the comments!) But the question got me thinking about the topic.

So I was quite interested when I discovered that the latest issue of Nurture is on the topic of family devotions. If you're not familiar with Nurture, it's a blog written especially for busy parents and caregivers, or others who play an important role in kids' lives (like stepparents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles). It's full of fun, faith-building ideas, articles, and devotions to use at home.

This issue of Nurture addresses question such as “How do help our kids listen to God’s word?” and “When is a good time to have devotions?” There's also a section with prayer ideas for preschoolers, elementary school agers and teens.

The blog also highlights some good resources like a new devotional called DIVE Devotions written for middle school kids. It's based on the Heidelberg Catechism and has fun doodles on every page. It also happens to have been written by my son! There are other resources mentioned too, like “God’s Big Story Cards” and “Faith Talk Cards” which are wonderful resource to help families talk about their faith. I've placed these cards in the Sunday School classrooms for the teacher to use if they have extra class time.

The Nurture blog has some good ideas for busy families to think about family devotions. Add this resource to your church web page or highlight it on Facebook, email, or in your churches newsletter or bulletin.

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In terms of their spiritual life and growth, family devotions have a much larger impact than christian school, or any church activities, including catechism, sunday school, gems, or worship.   So if you are concerned about your children, and if you love them, you will not neglect family devotions with your children, especially at young ages.  By the time they are twelve or fourteen, they will quite likely have their own personal devotions daily, provided the family has modelled and encouraged them.  

A couple of options for family devotions that work well:  1.  family devotions at mealtimes.   This means that you either start or end the meal with prayer, reading scripture, possibly discussion, and possibly singing of some songs, preferably from memory.   In my case, this is what we do at least at breakfast and supper, and when on vacation or weekends, also at noon meals.  The children enjoy this.  When we read the bible, or a bible story book, invariably one or two will want to sit on my knee when we read,  although this diminishes when they become older.  At breakfast, I am often gone, so my wife leads this reading.    When the grandchildren are also there, then often four of them are trying to sit on my knees, and I can barely see the book.  They also love to pick the songs, especially the action songs.  As they get older and learn, they may want to play the piano for a simple song they are learning.  

The other option, 2, is family devotion at bedtime.   This works well if children more or less go to bed at a similar time.   It can also be done with parent and single child.   Again, the children miss it when it is skipped.  

Sometimes both options done together are possible, and the children do not mind it at all.   In fact, sometimes they are the ones who insist on it, and this keeps the practice consistent. 

Usually simply reading the bible, rather than all kinds of devotional books,  is the best. 

Just some suggestions to consider.