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The Importance of Family Devotions
I have had the privilege of working with families for almost twelve years here at Coastal Church, and for almost 20 years in my overall ministry life. As I reflect on my time of ministering to children and youth, there is no doubt that kids today face more unprecedented challenges now than they did even ten years ago. The rapid ascent of social media, the unique challenges the lockdowns brought on, and the woke ideologies presented to them in seemingly every facet of their lives, have created a hostile environment for children to grow in.
More than ever, we have encouraged families to make family devotion time a priority in their homes. In a culture that aims to indoctrinate our children with values not rooted in the Word but in the world, having a consistent and set aside time for worship, prayer and Bible study as a family, is crucial in raising children that will “shine like stars in the midst of a crooked generation” (Philippians 2:15).
In Deuteronomy 6, God promised the children of Israel abundance, security, and prosperity. However, these promises preceded an important command in verses 7 and 8: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Setting time aside for family devotion not only insulates the hearts and minds of our children from the perverseness of the world, but it also ensures God’s continued hand of blessing upon them!
With all that said, family devotion is not the only way we are to train our children in the Word of God and the culture of the Kingdom. In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses says we are to teach them “the way” (NKJV). This means that we are to take advantage of little everyday moments to instill the principles of scripture in their minds. However, setting aside an intentional time dedicated to God as a family, models the priority God’s word should have in our lives. They will not forget it.
If you are not already doing family devotion, I want to share some simple practical steps you can take to get started today. If family devotions are already taking place in your home, take this as an encouragement and confirmation that you are on the right path!
What are Family Devotions Anyway?
Family devotions are regular, consistent times set aside within a family to be devoted to God together. They typically involve reading God’s Word, praying, singing together, and reflecting on His goodness. They are distinct from personal devotional times as it is meant to be enjoyed as a family. I use the word enjoy intentionally as it is not meant to be a time that your family can look forward to and enjoy the rich presence of God together.
When Do We Do Family Devotions?
It’s a question that only your family can answer. Each family is unique and has its own busy schedule. The key is to find a time – ANY time. Still, it’s important to not simply find a few leftover minutes but to set the time apart from all other responsibilities and activities. Remember, however, that you are teaching your kids a habit. Just like they need to brush their teeth every day, you need to teach them that touching base with God is as vital for their spiritual well-being as brushing is for their teeth.
What Should Family Devotion Look Like?
The main activities should be Bible reading, worship and singing, and prayer. The key to conducting effective family devotionals is to keep it simple and to the point. Select a Bible story, read the scripture (choose a version of the Bible that will be understandable for all ages), and then talk about how the scripture can be applied to your family’s life.
It will look different in the various stages of family life. For example, when your kids are toddlers, the emphasis may be more on singing and Bible stories with a picture Bible. As they grow older, you can include scripture memorization and challenge them to come up with ideas on how those verses apply to everyday life. Childhood is also an excellent time to memorize Bible verses when minds are quick and eager to learn.
As they go from elementary age to teenagers, have them lead some family devotion times by reading scripture, conducting a devotion, or leading a song of worship. Regardless of their age, go around the room and encourage them to pray out loud. if they can communicate with you, they can communicate with God. Focus on the Family has a great primer to get started with Family Devotions whichever age your kids might be.
How Long Should They Be?
There is no exact science here. If you have younger children, it might be a good idea to start with a short time—maybe 10 minutes. By starting small, you can teach them to sit in short increments and begin to set a routine. When they have mastered the 10 minutes, move it up to 15. As they grow and mature, increase the time you spend doing family devotions.
Some Practical Tips:
- Choose a Bible translation that your children can easily grasp. A Children’s Bible can also be a great alternative for new believers in grasping the Bible’s basic yet essential truths.
- Stick to a plan. Pick a time of day that works best for your family. When choosing a time, don’t pick one when family members are too tired or not awake. If you have early risers, breakfast might be a great fit. If you have young children that have early bedtimes, during or right after dinner might be the best fit.
- Turn off ALL electronics.
- Engage your kids in the lesson. Kids love learning, but more importantly, they enjoy being a part of something. The more you involve them, the more they will learn – and the more they will look forward to family devotions each week.
- Our Family Life team has a page for parents with great resources you can use including Bibles, devotionals and books!
Don’t strive for perfection in family devotions, strive for consistency. As you train up your children each day, remember the goal: We want our kids to know that God is at the center of the family. Kids won’t necessarily remember whether family devotions were perfect, but they will remember that they were important.