Just the two words put together, FAMILY and DEVOTIONS, sends a shiver of guilt or dread to many parents of faith. We know we should be doing it. We know every other family of faith is doing it successfully. It is number one in the rulebook for “raising a child in the way he should go.”
But even though we as believing parents want to help our children grow up into happy and stable men and women, we feel either intimidated by the idea of “Family Devotions” or simply dread the dry and boring sound of it. Those two words together bring up a picture of bored children listening to a Bible story as Dad reads it aloud.
The first answer may be in changing the name of this family ritual. The word “devotions” is an old and seldom used word in today’s world. How about just “Family Time” or Family Chat” or “God Time”?
The next step is to be realistic about your own family and it’s unique schedule. Every one is different and if morning is too hectic as everyone is heading out for the day, then try it in the evenings before bed. This could be a great way to help your children wind down after a busy and active day.
Now for what happens when you have finally gathered the family and they are all staring at you expectantly. Consider what is important to you; what do you want your kids to take away from this time? Is memorizing Bible verses something you love and have done yourself? Do you want your kids to know the basic Bible stories better? Do you love nature and wish your kids did too? Or do you have a strong prayer life and want to pass it on to them? Choose one main goal at first. Don’t try to accomplish everything at once.
It is important that your goal is honestly something you love and not just something you feel that is expected from you. Trying to be enthusiastic about Bible stories when your real love is the outdoors will only lead to failure and self-condemnation. Use what you love to communicate truth. Be creative.
There is no requirement that the family must be sitting in a circle in the living room with a Bible in the center as you all close your eyes in prayer. This is an old picture that needs to be changed in your head and heart. You could take your family for a daily walk and chat about God as you walk along. You could lie on the lawn together and look up at the stars as you ask your kids questions about how they see God.
Whenever we feel dread or guilt about doing or not doing a thing, it reveals that the event is not true to your own personal values and style. Find a way to make your expression of God’s love for your family, fit your family.