A few months ago I was visiting a church in which I had preached. After the services one of the men and I were talking about this, that, and the other thing. Then our children came up in the course of the conversation.

This man also has a handful of small children, so he thought that I would be able to relate to his situation. He asked me if our family has “family devotions” and if so, how? This has been a question of mine for sometime as well. I would speak with parents who have been where I’m at and the advice has been all over the spectrum. Good advice mind you, but ultimately they would all end up leaving me where I started. Then the Bible provided the answer. So, I would like to share with you some of this conversation and what my thoughts on this subject is, based on God’s Word.

He explained how that when they have their family devotions that it could become more of a hassle than a blessing. After all, how do you get a one or two year old child to sit still and listen to daddy read from the scriptures? Sure, you could demand that the child sit still and obey. You could even scold or punish the child for direct disobedience. You would be in your right to do so since you gave the child a direct order. But, is the order that you have given to that child fair? Furthermore, what is the end result of the battle that is bound to take place?  The parents are frustrated, the child is upset and the memory of “family devotions” is not a pleasant one. I am not suggesting that a parent back down, nor am I suggesting doing away with devotions in the home. I am however asking that God’s people be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Mt. 10:16) 

Our goal is not to cram scripture down the throat of our family members, nor should it be to puff ourselves up with a false since of spirituality. The goal should be to pass on the love for God and His Word to our children. Who are we trying to impress anyway?  

As I told this man, it is my desire to make this time a time of a fun and a relaxed atmosphere. I do not wish to place a burden on myself or on my family with some need of reaching a quota. I want my children and even my wife to look forward to these times of togetherness. I want them to look back on these times with a fondness and a longing in their hearts. I want my children’s relationship with God to be real. I do not want their relationship to be based on some sort of religious requirement. 

We do not have family devotions in the traditional since of the word. We don’t sit around the table and read a pre-determined set of scriptures and then pray and pat ourselves on the back for having done so. Instead we have devotions all day long. I’ll explain that in just a moment, but first let me share our nightly routine with you. 

Most nights before bed we will sit around the living room and sing Bible Songs and then take turns praying. I help prod the children along in their prayers, but for the most part they have learned to pray on their own. The youngest ones will be led in prayer and every so often I’ll tell them to talk to God on their own, until finally they do not need my help. Sure some of their requests and thoughts could be considered silly, but somehow I think God looks upon it with great pleasure. The faith of a child… How wonderful it is to see that faith grow. Did He not say that we should come to Him as children?  

For example, last night our 5-year-old son told God that he was glad he had his mommy and daddy and without them he would be sad. A few days before that, he asked God to let daddy take him to the go-carts. They routinely pray for others without our leading them to do so, then there are times that their prayers are “selfish”. But I believe that it all glorifies their Heavenly Father. 

Now, how is it that we have devotions all day long? My children are 6, 5, 4 & 3. At this stage in their life we cannot truly expect to have a logical, spiritual or philosophical conversation with them. I am their teacher, and my desire is to teach them to love God and His Word. If they love God and His Word, they will know God and His Word. 

God tells us in Deuteronomy, as well as many other places, the way we are to bring our children up in His Word. Consider the following verses. 

Deu 6:1-9
(1)  Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
(2)  That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

Here we see that we are to learn His Word so that we might DO them. You will also notice in verse 2 that this is meant to be perpetual to all generations. “Thou” is a very personal word. Dad and Mom, you can not expect your children to follow God’s Word if you do not follow God’s word. “Thy son, and thy son’s son” leads us to the understanding that this practice is to continue onto and through our children. But, it starts with the parents.

Also consider the use of the male terms. Granted much of the Bible is written this way, but that even further proves the point that I am about to make. It was understood in these times (and should be today) that the husband was the head of the home. Men were meant to lead and the ladies were to follow. It was understood that if the men would do right and lead the family to do right that the women would do right. We need fathers to pick up the torch and lead the families in spiritual matters.

Thank God for godly mothers and women! But the men need to wake up and stop placing the burden and responsibility on the women. Church and such are not just for the women and children but also for the men. O that we would have godly men that would once again rise up and be the spiritual leaders of their homes. 

(3)  Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
(4)  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
(5)  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
(6)  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

We must hear the words and then DO the words. Our children do not need parents to be hypocrites. They see right through that and it will be a major factor in turning them away from God. When you sit down at your “family devotions” and you constantly need to correct and become frustrated you are doing more harm to the spiritual well being of your family than if you had not had devotions at all.

As we hear and do we are promised that we will increase. Furthermore, we have a knowledge of the oneness of God.

Vs. 4 tells us that “The LORD our God is one LORD”. This was significant to the children of Israel as they had come out of Egypt and were under a religious system that served many gods. Now, the God that they were to serve, is ONE GOD.

In addition to that, they learned about the unity that is found within God and His presence. Our times of devotions with the family should create a unity and bond between us rather than create strife and divisions.

Vs. 5 tells us that we should love God. With all of our heart, soul and might. I would like to expound on this later, but for our discussion today I’ll simply point out that our time of devotions should foster a love for God as was stated as our main goal.

This then results in His Words being apart of our life as they are in our heart (VS 6) 

(7)  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Here it is! How should you do “family devotions”? Rather than being stressed and pressured into a formula or criteria and thereby failing at your overall goal, just do what the Bible says.

We are to teach God’s Word to our children and we are to be diligent in our teaching.

DILIGENT, a. [L.]1. Steady in application to business; constant in effort or exertion to accomplish what is undertaken; assiduous; attentive; industrious; not idle or negligent; applied to persons.
~Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary

Consistency is a must. But still, how do we undertake such an important endeavor as this? Let me quote again, … talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

Folks, don’t be so caught up in a specific time and a specific structure. Rather than being concerned with the perfect plan, realize that God has given us the solution. After all, who better to tell us how to raise a family in God’s Word than God Himself?

God’s word should be the focal point all day long. Talk about them when your sitting in your house. Talk about them when your walking or driving down the road. Talk about them when you ready yourself for bed. Talk about them when you get up in the morning. Talk about them with each other all the day long.

Not to point out the obvious, but in order to talk about God’s Word you must read God’s Word. As your children become old enough to read, encourage them to read the Bible on their own. You, as a parent should be doing this anyway. Then as you are around each other make it a point to discuss what you have read. This, in and of itself will encourage a young person to read the Bible just so they can be apart of the “adult” conversation.

Allow the every day things of life to bring up discussions about God and His Word. Teach the children that God is not to be relegated to only certain days or times, but that all we do should be with the knowledge of God’s presence around us. For example, as your driving down the street and you come across something that catches your attention, find a way for it to open up a conversation about God and His Word.

(8)  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
(9)  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

A frontlet was a leather band that would be worn on the head. Many times they would have ornaments that would dangle down between the eyes, much like a charm bracelet. God, in effect, was telling His people to surround themselves with His Word. Everywhere they looked they were to be reminded of His Word. When they would go through their day and work with their hands, there was a constant reminder of His Word.

As they entered their home and as people passed by, there was a constant reminder of God and His Word. Our homes should be filled with Biblical reminders. Our children, our families would gain greatly from these practices, much more so than a 15-30 min. ditty at the end of the night. We should surround ourselves with God and talk of Him constantly with each other.

This does not mean that I am against a scheduled time with the family. But that should just be an extension of what the family has been doing the entire day. My family (at this stage in our children’s age) have a time before bed that we sing and pray. But all day long we surround ourselves with God’s Word. All day long we make an effort to find a way to bring Him into our conversation. Maybe as our children age and they have cultivated a love for God, we might find our set time to be one of deep discussion and conversation and study. But this will be an extension of a day that has been centered around Christ.

Do we err? Yes, we do. But even then we are not faced with failure and defeat. For we have allowed God to have a place of consistency in our home. So even if we might not talk of Him as often as we should on a given day, we are not burdened by guilt as those who only have 30 min set aside and then miss that time frame.

May you find this suggestion as a helpful tool to bring you and your family closer to God. As you come closer to God, may you be closer to each other.

Suggestions:

1. Steer the conversation at meal time around what you read in your personal Bible time.

2. Actively look for opportunities to talk of God and His Word with your family throughout the day. It will be contagious and eventually it we be a natural response. You will even catch yourself doing it with strangers as well :>)

3. Play scripture songs on your home CD player during the day.

4. Get the Bible on CD and play that throughout the day. You can download free MP3 files of the Bible here.

5. Set your screensaver on your computer with a Bible Program. Here is a link to a free one. (Scroll to the bottom of the page)

6. For fun with the family, have sword drills, memory verse contests.

7. Young children and maybe even old ones would benefit from Dad acting out bible stories before bed time.

8. Play charades with your family using Bible characters and stories.

The list could go on and on…

Advertisements