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Home Devotions

My five-year-old prays, “Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to take away our sins. Amen.” I never get tired of hearing it, and she never gets tired of praying it. Her prayer is in response to devotions we have together as a family. God encourages parents, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Spending time with our families in God’s Word strengthens faith and helps us live that faith.

The Obstacles
What gets in the way of daily home devotions? One obstacle is that we don’t truly recognize their importance. When we don’t spend time with God’s Word ourselves, we forget how vital devotions are to our family members’ faith. Another obstacle is the difficulty in finding time for devotions. Life gets in the way: jobs, making dinner, managing children, homework, sports practice, and piano lessons. In addition, we may not feel confident in our abilities to lead devotions, or we may not be sure of the resources we should use. If you’ve never had home devotions or have fallen out of the habit, it can be daunting to get started. To develop this habit, we first need to realize the importance of having home devotions, then find the time, gain confidence in giving them, and also consider various devotional resources.

The Importance of Home Devotions
This world is filled with struggles and joys. When we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, we are equipped to meet our daily challenges. God instructs us in Proverbs 4:11-13, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” Eternal life is at stake. What an encouragement to spend time daily reading God’s Word!

When we experience the benefits and joys of personal devotions, we will naturally want our family to grow in that grace as well. God’s plan is for parents to teach their children. “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (Psalm 78:5-7). How will our children know and value Jesus unless, together with them, we teach, discuss, study, and wrestle with God’s Word? We, as parents, have the responsibility to spend time with our families in God’s Word.

Time
Time is a valuable commodity for families. Some days there is barely time to sit and catch a breath. We may feel like Jesus’ friend Martha, struggling to make everything just right. But Jesus reminds all of us, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed” (Luke 10:41,42). We can’t do everything, but we can find time for our families to study God’s Word (even if the furniture doesn’t get dusted).

Practically speaking, finding time for devotions depends on developing a routine. In our home, we have family devotions every night after dinner, just before dessert. If you’re not all together at dinnertime, consider having devotion time first thing in the morning or before bedtime. The key is to find a time that works for your family and make it your routine.

The other aspect to sharing God’s Word with your children is to look for teachable moments. It might be a question your child asks, an argument you have to settle, or discipline you have to give that leads you to talk about Jesus and his amazing grace. It might be something wonderful in God’s creation that causes you to marvel at how much God loves us. God encourages us to look for those moments: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds. . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:18,19).

Confidence
You may feel intimidated in leading devotions: What if I don’t know what to say? What if I say the wrong thing? Jesus promises to guide us: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8). He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide his disciples in their teaching, and the Holy Spirit will also guide us. “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

I never know exactly how our family devotions will go. Some are better than others. Sometimes we discuss an entirely different idea than what I had planned. Every time, though, the Holy Spirit guides our devotions. When I can’t answer a question, I ask my pastor for help. Some questions won’t be answered until we’re in heaven. Those tough questions are valuable because they cause us to dig deeply into God’s Word. Just dive in and start devotions; it won’t be perfect, but it will be blessed.

Resources
There are many resources for home devotions:

  • The Bible! Begin with one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) that tell about Jesus’ life on earth. Then look for sections in the Bible that have stories for your children to learn and discuss (like Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Ruth, or Acts).
  • Sunday school handouts. Look on the back of the handout for Bible verses, prayers, songs, and ways to extend the lesson into devotions for the week.
  • Bible storybooks and Christ-Light materials (available through NPH).
  • Devotion books. Make sure they focus on Jesus’ salvation and not only on leading moral lives. Books are available for children of all ages, from toddlers (lots of action and rhymes) to teens. A good resource for devotional books is www.nph.net.
  • Songbooks. The hymnal and other Christian songbooks have comforting, uplifting, and instructional songs for you and your family to learn and sing.
  • Prayer. Discuss the meanings of your favorite prayers. Read, learn, and discuss new prayers. Make up your own prayers based on what you’ve studied in your devotions.

One issue we have in our family is that our oldest child is six years older than our youngest. For a while we had separate devotions. Sometimes we still do. We also talk about the same lesson at different levels, starting with key ideas for the younger children and progressing to more advanced ideas for the older children. It’s amazing how all of them, at times, show a deep understanding of Scripture.

In our devotion this evening, we were reminded of Jesus’ promise: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). With this comfort in mind, my youngest prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to take away our sins and rising on Easter. Amen.” That just about says it all.


By Sue Heinitz, from Parents Crosslink © 2014 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Sue Heinitz has a master of science in education degree and teaches preschool. She; her husband, Brian; and their four children live in Henderson, Nevada.

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