Before I get into how we did our family devotions on Proverbs 25:28, allow me to share with you a little family devotionals 101.
First of all, having family devotions is not the “be all and end all” for our children to be Christians. That is not our job. It is solely the grace of God and the working of the Holy Spirit. Our job as parents is found in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The word “train up” is a call for us to be intentional in our parenting. With the downgrading moralities of this world, we cannot be passive about teaching our children the authority of the Word of God in the Bible. We need to teach and live out the power of prayer with childlike faith. More so, we need to be intentional in sharing the Gospel to them, that we are sinners in need of a Savior only through Jesus Christ Only Jesus can give joy to their lives like how He gave ours. Jason DeRouchie said in one of his articles “Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go” (Link here: Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go)
“Proverbs 22:6 is focused more on an intentional, sustained, God-dependent shepherding of our children’s hearts as they grow into adulthood — one in which the children themselves are aware of the parents’ trajectory-setting intentions. This is not a passive calling for dads and moms.”
Having family devotionals is just an avenue and instrument for parents to intentionally inculcate the truths in the Bible to their children. We just cannot leave that to their Bible classes or Sunday school teachers because the call to train and dedicate our children in the ways of God is given primarily to us parents.
So here goes Family Devotions 101:
1.) Start them young. If you are hesitant that they couldn’t understand yet, don’t! You will be surprised how much your toddlers can absorb what you are teaching them. Sometimes, we just need to think out-of-the-box to get their attention and interest. You can start as soon as they can sit up and see more colors or even just when you have adjusted with the no sleep game. You can start reading to them the Bible for kids every morning or every evening. It doesn’t have to be a whole chapter. I remember reading to my eldest when he was about 6 months old. If I just simply read to him, I will loose his attention but if modulate my voice, make some sound effects and even put a little action with my hands then I get to finish one Bible story to him.
2.) Set a schedule. Decide if you will do it weekly or every other week. Although I would highly suggest that you do it weekly. After, choose a specific day and time. Last year, we did our family devotions every Friday right after dinner but since we are back in the ministry, we need to reschedule it to every Saturday, right after dinner. Just a note, let this be one of your non-negotiable. Prioritize your family devotions. If you miss one or two family devotions, it might dampen the kids excitement. This is to send the message to your kids that this is important. They too will make it a non-negotiable when they have their own schedules.
3.) Be prepared. Before gathering as a family, BE PRAYED UP with your spouse. Pray for your family devotions because only God can change the heart of your children. No matter how much effort we put in our family devotions, unless the Holy Spirit moves, no change can happen. Plan what Book in the Bible or what topics you will be sharing during devotions. It is better to study one Book in the Bible at a time or one general topic than just select verses randomly. There will be consistency. In doing this, we started out with the Book of Proverbs and selected verses from it that we really feel what our kids need. Come this year, we started with the Attributes of God. Study the Scripture with your spouse first. Discuss your roles during family devotions and fathers, take the lead. Share your thoughts on how you will share it to the kids, the flow, the materials (if needed), and so on.
4.) Be creative. Especially for younger kids, creativity can come in handy. You can add coloring materials, toys, games, and activities that will support the Scripture. We started our first family devotions with just sitting down in our living room and just had a discussion. We treated them like adults. We got those “when will this end” look from them. They then politely asked us, “Are we done already?”. Vincent and I then knew that we are not getting through our kids.
5.) Encourage Interaction. Don’t do all the talking. Let them share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. This way you will get to know your child better. You will know how to pray for them and lead them in the ways of God. Tim Challies said in his article “10 Ideas and 10 Tips for Family Devotions in 2017” (Link here: 10 Ideas and 10 Tips for Family Devotions in 2017)
“Family devotions don’t need to be fun, but they must not be drab either. Focus on engagement, not entertainment.”
6.) Start and End in Prayer. Parents are just instruments to show them the way they should go and we should rely solely on the grace of God that will touch the hearts of our children. Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”