Thursday, October 17, 2013

Family on Purpose {Devotions}

In an ideal world we would have family devotions much more often. In the real world we are kind of all over the place.

I don’t pretend to have this all down. We are a work in progress. 

Sometimes the thought of sitting down and doing devotions with the family seems about as likely as scaling Mt. Everest. We get tired. Or sick. Or grumpy. Or busy. And so we learn to hold our plans lightly. 

Our routine may not work at your house. In fact, it probably won’t. I share what works for us just to get you thinking about what might work for you. We do have regular conversations about the Lord and our beliefs. We call them devotions, but they’re really just conversations about our faith. We often share what we’ve been learning in our own private Bible time. Because, as the mom and dad, we need to be feeding our own spiritual lives daily. Alone. With God. Just us. We can't lead our kids to something we aren't doing ourselves.

As it stands now, Mondays are the easiest night for us to make time for a devotional teaching. Before you get all worked up over the idea of teaching, remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Your local Christian bookstore probably has scads of family devotional books, use them to your advantage. 

Right now we aren’t using a devotional for teaching our kids. However, we are often thinking of issues that need addressing in our home. With the mindset that the word of God is medicine, we treat the problems that arise with Scripture. On a recent Monday we took the preventative route and I shared something that I had learned at a recent retreat with the kids. It was a simple lesson, taken from the book of Joshua, about remembering what God has done. We shared the story, reminding the kids that it’s more than a story, it’s history. And I shared what I had learned. And then I asked the kids what we could do to apply the truth of this particular incident in Scripture to our own lives. It was that simple.  

It does take a little planning on our part, but it’s worth it to show our kids how God’s word applies to their lives right now. And it’s one evening. The rest of the week, we might grab our copy of Jesus Calling and read the daily reading at dinner time or before bedtime. 

A few keys to successful family devotions:
  • right before bedtime is the best time to hold their attention, because a devotional time then holds the promise of staying up a bit later. 
  • keep it simple and age appropriate. You wouldn’t spend half an hour talking about the Holy Spirit with your two year old. Or color pictures representing the fruit of the Spirit with your teenagers.
  • keep it short.
  • make it reflect your own family. 
  • the most important thing is to make it applicable to their lives. If we aren’t showing our kids how God’s word can change them right now, we are missing a valuable opportunity for our children to know the power of Scripture. No matter what we try to make it apply to their lives in a practical way.

As you do this, remember that there is no formula. There is also not one perfect way to do this, it will ebb and flow as your own family does. You just get to ride the seasons out with your children. Don’t forget to ask God about it; ask him to show you how to do this at your house. The God of all creativity has ideas that are as boundless as the ocean, ask him and listen for his inspiration to drop.

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