10 Practical Tips For Having A Family Devotion

Below is a quick list of how to do a family devotion for those of us who find it difficult to know where to start. I think it is more important to just get started  than to worry about finding the perfect method.

  1. Set a time. All this advice may seem over simplified, but trust me, some of the most simple points are where we usually miss the mark. Have a designated time. If you don’t set a time, the time will never come. We would prepare more if we had a time to prepare for. You will find that your kids will remind you if you miss it, too. If you cannot find a time that works conveniently for you, then do it during dinner or some other major intersection time you already have with the family. The point is to set a time. Something I noticed preaching through Psalm 119 a while back was how many references to the time that the Psalmist interacts with in Scripture.
  2. Make it a habit. Stick to the time when even when you do not feel like it. That does not mean to purposely slop through it and come at it half-hearted. I have found that, on the days I have felt the coldest, things turned around for me after I saw God at work in the life of one of my kids. There is no catalyst like watching the Holy Spirit at work in real-time right in front of you. Make it a habit because many other ungodly habits are waiting in line to take its place. It may be a strenuous day that you have just gone through, but seek God through His word in the evening for peace of mind (Psalm 119:55). Make it a habit to tend to your family nightly parents by sharing God’s heart with them.
  3. Let everyone have a turn sharing. You may have kids that are far too young to lead a devotional completely on their own, but they can say something authentic about God even if they cannot yet read. You’ll be surprised what the Holy Spirit stirs up in them. Of course, this should be within reason. This is not for the kids’ comedy hour, but they can have fun. The Bible was written for young people as well as adults, and we need to not forget that (Psalm 119:9). For me, there were times that I regret being too strict about “how” the children  acted. If they are aloof one night, do not lose your grits over it. Are you not aloof with thoughts bouncing around sometimes during devotional time too? They are children – not angels. So much more I could say on this point, but we will move on!
  4. Be as enthusiastic as you can. I realize some people have never been enthusiastic a day in their life. This is God we are dealing with. He is amazing. He is full of riches and wonder. Let us get serious about loving Him. If you have a zeal for God and His word, they will catch it! I have seen family Bible times where everyone is sitting perfectly still almost like statues and the Scriptures are being read like tax returns. Come on, folks! Get a fire burning in your own heart if you want to see a fire in theirs. I don’t know about you but I love sweets! Sweets make me excited (like Halloween candy). Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth”.
  5. Use The Bible. Get your family used to using the Bible. There are a lot of really good devotional books out there and quite a few that cover family devotions. Other books are great if they help out from time to time, but nothing replaces using the Bible itself when it comes to the health and help your family will receive. You want your family to grow up being able to find their way around the Scriptures as well. They need Scripture now, but one day they will really need it (Psalm 119:71). Make sure they can find the promises they may need in their future life when you are long gone.
  6. Keep it short. How long is your attention span? Many statistics point out that the average attention span is, at most, fifteen minutes. I am not saying to always cut the family time short so you won’t lose them. I am saying that you should never go unnecessarily long. Be mindful of your time. Don’t torture your children into the Kingdom. How long is the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)? That is a solid story if there has ever been one. Do not go so long that the Prodigal Son never makes it home.
  7. Turn off technology. The average family in America uses cell phones and other devices to actually babysit their kids. The thing that people use to occupy the attention of kids should not be able to distract them during devotional time. You will find that it is a relief to turn them off for young and old. It would be most profitable if it was just you, them, and God… that’s it! We have all the information of collective mankind at our fingertips, but we are none the wiser. Take time away form the knowledge and entertainment of man in order to hear the voice of God again in the lives of your kids (Psalm 119:100).
  8. Make Jesus the spotlight. If you are in the Old Testament, see if you can make the connect to Jesus and the truths discussed. The spotlight should be on Jesus and not our own moral lessons without Him. Many a lesson has been taught without Jesus at the center either by mistake or out of our ignorance. Your ignorance will become their ignorance if you are not careful in this matter. The good news is that we can always back up and start fresh. Show them the riches of God in Christ Jesus (Luke 24:27).
  9. Be honest about your struggles. Many a parent hides or tries to hide all their imperfections from their kids. Don’t get me wrong – we should not parade our sins in front of our children, but they should at least know that you struggle like they do. In order to show them how to overcome their struggles and sins by trusting in Jesus, it helps to be honest that you are trusting Christ in your struggle as well. You can also show them your victories in Christ. You will find that this will lift a low-hearted child or teen quicker than many other methods you could come up with. The Scriptures build up all of us that struggle if we read them (Psalm 119:105).
  10. Pray together. Lastly, sometimes people mean well when they pray long, high sounding prayers. However, the parent that prays in plain language helps the family to be authentic and raw with their prayer life. Our families need God; they do not need to spend their prayer time trying to impress each other with how they sound. If our vision toward God is a little blurry on any given night (either before or after our devotion), we can pray with the Psalmist: “open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things” (Psalm 119:18).

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