As parents of three young daughters, my wife and I frequently remind ourselves of two verses: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), and “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:3). While the context of these verses may differ from one another and from our current setting, these two verses have served as a foundation for the spiritual guidance that my wife and I provide for our three daughters.
When it comes to family devotions, we have used a variety of methods and resources. Some of our ideas and the variety of resources have turned out to be useful in helping our daughters; we have also ruled out other methods and materials. The purpose of this article is to give you some practical ideas for family devotions and include a few resources that we have found to be helpful.
Model a Devotional Life
Children need to see that devotions are important to their parents. They often will do what they believe is important to their mom and dad. I believe it is important for children to see their parents spending time reading Scripture. Personally, I try to read from a physical Bible rather than reading it on a smartphone. While there is nothing wrong with reading Scripture electronically, I want my girls to know that I am reading God’s Word and not just spending time on my phone.
I try to read from a physical Bible because I want my girls to know that I am reading God’s Word and not just spending time on my phone.
Set a Consistent Time
Speaking from experience, if you don’t have a consistent time, family devotions will not happen. Even with the best of intentions, something else will likely have a higher demand on your time if you don’t keep to a regularly set time for devotions. The enemy of our soul will do everything he can to prevent families spending consistent times together around God’s Word and in prayer.
If you are not in the habit of having family devotions, start now! You don’t have to have a perfect plan in place—just start. Pick a Psalm, read it, and have prayer. Devotions don’t need to be complicated or advanced; they are simply a time of listening to God through His Word and talking to Him through prayer. Family devotions can feel uncomfortable the first few times you do them, but start somewhere and push through the awkwardness.
If you are not in the habit of having family devotions, start now! You don’t have to have a perfect plan in place.
Memorizing Scripture is an excellent practice to include in family devotions. Decades have now passed since I memorized Scriptures as a child, but I still remember many of the passages, recalling them almost daily for encouragement. Scripture committed to memory is a powerful weapon for our children to use against the enemy.
Resources for Devotions with Younger Children
There is no better time to start family devotions than when your children are young. When our girls were younger, Arlene and I read from several children’s Bible story books, in addition to reading short passages of Scripture. Here are a couple of our favorites:
Egermeier’s Bible Story Book by Elsie Egermeier. This one is a classic, and the Bible story book that I read as a child (which is probably one of the reasons that I included it). When I read it to my girls, it felt like I was returning to a trusted friend. This story book helped fuel my passion for God’s Word at a young age.
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones. There are many good children’s Bible story books, but I especially love this one because every story points to Jesus. If you have different ages of younger children, The Jesus Storybook Bible Coloring Book for Kids is a fun supplement to this resource.
Resources for Devotions with Older Children and Teenagers
Two of my daughters are currently in this age group, and they are the motivation why I created Kids’ Bible Travels. While I wish that KBT currently had more resources, let me share the principles of how I teach my girls to study the Bible:
- Explore. The first skill that children need to learn in how to study the Bible is to explore. This is where we read God’s Word and ask some questions to help us better understand what we are reading.
- See. What do we see about God in the Scripture that we read? The entire Bible is about God. We can learn something about Him in every passage that we read and study.
- Walk. After we explore Scripture and see God in it, we must walk—we must do what God tells us to do.
My oldest daughter is still engaged with this three-step Bible study method. It is exciting to see her answers deepening. Her application has moved away from short answers to applying the Bible in real-life situations.
If you are struggling with or have never had family devotions, let me assure you of this: Our family devotional time is not perfect. There are still times when I feel like I am struggling with the whole concept. There are exhausting days when it feels as though it takes everything in me to gather our family together. But we still do it. We still open God’s Word and listen to what He has to say. We still talk with Him. Why? Because I desire my daughters to have a vibrant relationship with God. I want them to have the joy of walking with God. I long for them to experience the delight of His speaking to them and their speaking to Him. I desire for my daughters to always “walk in truth.”