5 Tips for Doing Family Devotions
The most important thing a Christian parent can do for their child is to show them their need for Jesus. There are many different ways to do this, but one of the main ways to help your children understand the Gospel is through some form of family devotions. Now, this too can take many different forms. Perhaps you have a full worship service with your family, or maybe it consists of a short prayer time. I believe that the format or even amount of time does not matter nearly as much as the content. Children need to see their parents loving them through showing them the truth of God’s Word and actually living out their faith. Here are some tips that might help you as you try to train your children in the truth.
Know Your Kids
Every child is different and has different needs. A parent must be able to understand what their child can take in and what will not be helpful for their child. Maybe your daughter can sit and listen to you pray for 10 minutes, but your son checked out at minute 2. Hopefully, your family worship time is not your only time in God’s Word, so really this isn’t about you or what you need, rather it is focused on your children and helping them. If that is the case, then talk about God in a way that is helpful for them. Perhaps, it would be unwise to read Romans 9 to your 6 year-olds. There are many good children Bibles for different age groups that would be helpful for your kids. Keep the goal of communicating God's truth in mind and adjust accordingly to your children.
Keep it fresh
Children Bibles are great. They are helpful for little ones and usually give them pictures to help them understand God’s Word. Yet, don’t get too tied down to one single children’s Bible. Sometimes a child outgrows their version, or they know the stories so well that they zone out during the reading. So don’t just read the same Children’s Bible over and over. Take a trip to the Christian bookstore and pick up a new version and see how well your kids pay attention. This also goes into the format, sometimes you might just have to shake things up and try something new to keep your kids’ attention and help them know God better. Here are some good children’s Bibles.
Don't Water it down
Your kids are able to understand much more about God than you might think. Just because they are children does not mean that the Bible or theological concepts are beyond them. Jesus made it very clear that children can have faith. Make sure to communicate God's Word in a way they can understand but also be careful to communicate it wholly. Don't water it down or leave something out. Tell them what God says and tell them all of what God says.
Don't use Family Devotions as punishment
I know, you would never do this, right? Sure. Me neither…actually I have and I think maybe you have too. Have you ever gotten upset at your child and read them the Bible in anger, pray a quick prayer, and put them to bed? Have you ever used family devotions as a punishment for bad behavior? Don’t. You don’t want to set a precedent with your child that God’s Word is only for when you are bad. You don’t want to associate the Bible with punishment. It would be better to not do family devotions for a night then do it with an angry tone that your child can clearly read.
Ask them questions
Family devotions is a perfect time to both ask your kids questions about what they read or heard and to let them ask you questions about the faith. It’s vital to Christian parenting that children have the freedom to ask their parents important questions about God, the Bible, and life. Parents can give that freedom to their children by asking them questions first. It may begin with something as simple as “what did this verse say about Jesus?” but could then lead to them asking you deep questions like “what exactly does my sin do to God?” or “are Christians allowed to drink?” If you give your children the opportunity to ask you questions, they will reward you with plenty of good and insightful questions. This does not mean you have to know everything either, it’s OK to tell your child “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.” In doing this you will save your children from seeking answers from unhelpful places.
Family devotions are a helpful way to make sure that you are measuring up to all the responsibilities God has given you as a parent. Just make sure that you are keeping the goal at the forefront rather than the format of this devotional time. Take advantage of the moment as well, don’t just wait till family devotions, talk about God often with your kids. As God says, “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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” - Deuteronomy 6:6-9