Setting aside time for devotions can be challenging in today’s busy culture. How many times have you and I come to the end of our day and realized that we didn’t make time to pray or open our Bible? We go to bed, vowing that tomorrow will be different. And yet, the next day we find ourselves once again bowing to the tyranny of the urgent.
The truth is we all need to learn to be still and put ourselves in a position to hear from God. There is no substitute activity to gain Godly wisdom than making time to be in His word to hear from the Lord. Our children need to learn this skill too, and they need it modeled by us.
Here are 5 tips to cultivate fruitful family devotions to grow spiritually healthy kids:
1. Set aside a place for your family to come together.
As my children have grown, the need to alter the time of day and place has changed.
When they were little, it was in the morning right after breakfast before we began homeschooling.
When we transitioned to Cary Christian School, my kids and I had devotions in the car on the way to school. (They truly were a captive audience! My teenagers took turns reading our selected verses while I drove.)
2. Set aside a time for your family to come together.
Five to fifteen minutes is a good starting point. The younger your children are, the shorter your time will be.
Don’t be legalistic about where and how long. This is about starting a habit of daily devotions.
3. Purchase a devotional book for your family to do together.
Many devotional books are structured for 365 days of devotions and fit a 10-15 minute window.
4. Don’t fall into this trap! “I don’t have a devotional book; as soon as I purchase one, we’ll start.”
Though devotional books are helpful, they are not the only format for quiet times with God as a family.
Consider these suggestions:
- Share Scripture verses and lessons you are learning from a personal Bible study.
- Review the week’s church sermon and discuss how to put it into practice.
- Have your child share his/her Sunday School lesson or an Awana memory verse. Help them identify ways they can obey God at home and school.
- Choose a book of Scripture to read through. The book of John is a great beginning place.
- Choose a topic to study: obedience, integrity, doing the right thing when others aren’t, sin, friendship, peer pressure, perseverance, kindness, gentleness, gossip, etc.… Your concordance will give you verses to explore.
Most importantly and regardless of what you choose to study, challenge one another to apply the Bible’s principles. Incorporate accountability by sharing these real life applications.
5. Teach your children how to study Scripture for themselves.
Follow these steps and you will see much fruit for years to come!
1) Pray before you read the selected Scripture verses. Ask God to teach you from His Word. Pray for soft hearts and open ears to hear His truth.
2) Read the passage together. Now review the facts from the passage.
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Facts: God loves the world and gave us His Son. Whoever believes in Jesus will not perish, but have life forever.
3) Take a moment to define and check for understanding of words that may prove confusing (eternal = forever, perish = separation from God).
4) Using the facts you see in the passage, now identify lesson(s) from the passage keeping it in context of the surrounding verses. Discuss truths found, principles to follow, warnings to heed, and good examples modeled.
Examples of Lessons:
- God loves me.
- God gave us Jesus, His Son.
- God’s proof of love to the world is giving us Jesus.
- Believing in Jesus gives us eternal life.
- If we don’t believe in Jesus, we will be separated from God.
5) Finally, make the application to everyday life. Ask questions for each member to consider and contemplate.
Examples of Applications:
- Memorize this verse. Recite it when I feel sad or lonely.
- Who needs to know that God loves them? How can I share God’s love with this person this week?
- How do I know God loves me?
- God showed me He loved me by giving me Jesus. How can I show God that I love Him today?
- Who is Jesus? Have I believed in Jesus as God’s one and only Son?
- How can I have assurance of being with God forever? If I reject Jesus, what does God say about that decision?
6) End with prayer. Ask God to help you put into practice what you learned as a family.
May your family time around God’s word bring much joy and fruit!
3 John 1:4
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”