What is Family Devotions?

Meeting together regularly as a family to read the Bible and pray

How do we get started?

1. Find a time that works

Choose a time that’s easiest for you to meet consistently as a family. It often helps to attach this to something you’re already doing. Breakfast? Dinner? Bedtime?

Decide how often you will meet. Every day? 3 times a week? Once a week? Daily is good for continuity, but 3x a week or even once a week may be more realistic.

2. Read something simple

Keep things short and simple, especially when starting. Five minutes focusing on the word and prayer is all that’s needed. The cumulative effect over time will be significant.

Younger Kids (Toddlers – K/1st): Read The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm or The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.

Older Kids (2nd & up): Read a short section of a gospel (like Mark or John). Look for the subheadings in the text, which often follow natural breaks in the story. If your kids can read, ask them to read the passage or go around and have each person read 2-3 verses.

3. Ask one or two questions – Give a brief explanation

Ask fact-based questions to help you know if kids were listening. What did Jesus do in our story? What did the disciples do? What happened next?

Ask questions that get at the main meaning of the passage.

  • What does this teach us about God?
  • What does this teach us about how we should respond to God?
  • Is there a command to obey?
  • A promise to rely on?
  • Something we can thank or praise God for?

Ask questions that help kids think about how to apply what’s been read. What does it look like to be kind? What are ways you can be kind this week?

Explain words or concepts that children won’t understand.

Teach them something you’ve learned from the passage. How has God used this in your life?

Ask your teens, “What stood out to you from this passage?” You’ll be surprised what they come up with. Talk about their ideas and insights.

4. Pray (Choose one of the following…)

You pray for the whole family. Thank God for his blessings. Ask for his help. Pray for something you learned in your family devotions.

Have each of your children say a short prayer. If they’re old enough to talk, they’re old enough to pray (almost!).

Pray the Lord’s Prayer together from Matthew 6:9-13.

Here’s a common model for prayer – the ACTS method

  • Adoration – Praising God for who he is
  • Confession – Confessing our sins to God
  • Thanksgiving – Thanking God for his blessings
  • Supplication – Asking God for help

Suggestions

Start today! Don’t put this off until you feel better prepared. Get going now and keep going. Success is only measured by this: Did we do it?

Whenever possible, dad should lead the family in devotions.

Minimize distractions – turn off electronics. Keep Bibles or other materials where you do your devotions so they’re ready to go when you need them.

Expect resistance, boredom, silliness and all manner of interruptions. This is normal; don’t be thrown; keep going. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.

You can add time or additional elements later (like singing, Scripture memory, praying for missionaries, etc.), once you’ve established a pattern. You can add other things, but you don’t need to.

Change things up to keep it interesting. Family devotions don’t need to be fun, but they most not be drab either. Focus on engaging your kids rather than entertaining them.

Keep at family devotions until they become a habit. It often takes one or two months to establish a new habit. It will be difficult early on, then gradually become easier as you continue.

Resources

Everything a Child Should Know about God (Kenneth N. Taylor) For kids ages 2-4. A basic and light-hearted overview of key points of systematic theology.

Long Story Short (Marty Machowski – Old Testament) & Old Story New (Marty Machowski – New Testament)Includes a daily Scripture reading (working through key stories over the course of 5 days), but each day adds some new perspective or activity.

The Big Picture Story Bible (David Helm) Focuses on young children (ages 2-7) using 26 stories to capture the storyline of the whole Bible.

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments (Marty Machowski) Designed for family devotions, this book shows how all the stories of the Bible are ultimately connected to Jesus.

The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones) Geared for early to mid-elementary aged children… but adults will enjoy it too!

Family Worship 101 (Don Whitney) 5-day series of videos giving practical suggestions for family worship. Includes a sample 30-day family worship schedule pdf.

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