Most Christian parents believe having family devotionals are important. But with busy schedules, a mixture of children’s ages and personalities, and sheer exhaustion, the desire for family devos often gives way to guilt. Are family devos simply an unattainable goal in the 21st century?
Not at all. Actually, I believe that teaching the Bible in our homes is of greater importance now than at any other time in history. Here are some ideas to help you overcome some commonly experienced obstacles.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Sometimes it is tempting to turn family devos into mini church services. We begin with expectations for everyone to sit quietly and drink in the learning. Within a few minutes, a child talks out of turn or begins fussing because their brother touched him. We become frustrated and give up. It is important to set realistic expectations keeping in mind the attention span and needs of your family. Remember that a few minutes of fun Bible learning and prayer will go much further than several minutes of unfocused and anger-filled attempts.
2. Age-Appropriate Bible Reading
I am very thankful for the variety of Bibles and devotionals written for younger audiences. When our four children were young, my husband read multiple times, from cover to cover The Beginner’s Bible. This gave our children a solid foundation of the Bible stories. Then we advanced to the My First Hands-On Bible which allowed the children to hear the Bible stories in verse form. Now, for personal application we read from the Our Daily Bread of Kids: 365 Meaningful Moments with God and are transitioning to actual Scripture with Billy Graham’s God’s Good News children devotional. These Bibles and devotionals have paved the way for understanding and provided conversations for further learning.
3. Interactive Learning
One of the best ways to keep children focused during devo time is to make them active participants. Involve them in the Bible story with props, visuals, and actions. The older the child, the more of a role they should play in the devotional time. For those with preschool to elementary-aged children, the ABCJesusLovesMe website offers an Old Testament Curriculum which many are using in their homes for family devos. Each lesson includes an interactive script, comprehension questions, memory verse, song, and activities to choose from.
4. Learn Your “Should”
In parenting, I long for an equation to produce perfect children. I want an ABC list of activities to yield an XYZ result. But there is no magic plan for a family. And if you polled 100 families who successfully hold family devos, you would receive probably as many ideas. This is because each family has a different combination of ages and personalities, needs and schedules. Trying to mirror how another family has devos usually doesn’t turn out well. Instead of worrying about what others say you should do, discover what the “should” is for your family.
Simply pour in a Bible story, mix in a song, and bake with prayer. You will be amazed at how God will use the time.
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