One of my richest memories growing up in my family was the sweet times of family devotions, or “wisdom search” as we called it. A couple mornings each week, you could expect Mom to wake you up at 6:30am and herd us all together into the living room. With most of the eight of us children it was certainly pulling teeth to get us out of bed, but in the long run it was certainly worth it. Dad would lead us through a chapter in the Bible and we would each take turns reading 5 verses and sharing a comment. “What golden nugget can you share with us? What stood out to you?” Mom or Dad would often ask.
It was a simple time together. Not longer than an hour. Some times our response was minimal, but they would faithfully encourage us to think about the verse and share any thoughts that come to mind. Each time we were digging deeper into the Bible and growing in our love for God’s Word. My parents faithfulness certainly made an impact on my walk with the Lord. Praise God that all eight of us are walking with the Lord. Certainly a testimony to God’s grace.
Ultimately, it can be as simple as reading one Proverb a day, as we did over and over again.The Word is living and active, and sharper than any two edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) You can come together in the morning, evening, or around the meal table for your devotions. Whatever works best for you. Now there are numerous wonderful resources available to give you tools for helping hide God’s word into the hearts of your children. Here are a few recommendations that we have used or previewed.
For the toddler/preschool age, we have used and love the Jesus Storybook Bible. We have read it through at least 4-5 times now since my daughter was 2. It is so solidly Biblical and rich as it traces the story of Jesus’ redemption through each chapter. This takes maybe 15 minutes depending upon how many stories you read and discuss. We read it together before our school time each morning. Another good one is Big Picture Story Bible and Family Time Bible (we used this one primarily for the beautiful artwork, the stories are shorter than the Jesus Storybook Bible but it also covers many stories that other picture bibles do not include).
We also integrate this with bible memory verses and character reading. My ABC Bible Verses has verses that correspond to the alphabet along with character building stories. Along with this we are memorizing the catechism questions in Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan Hunt. I’ll ask, “Who made you?” And I love hearing my 2 & 4 year old shout, “God!” or “What are the three persons of God?” and they proudly declare, “The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It’s so much fun.
For the elementary ages, some recommendations include: Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski. This book is fabulous for short devotions together whether you are tight on time or lacking in the area of children being able to focus. The devotions are simply reading a short passage of Scripture followed by discussion questions. Mighty Acts of God (another longer storybook style), Training Hearts, Teaching Minds (devotions based upon the shorter catechism), and Big Truths for for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware (a great introduction into the study of doctrine and theology- probably best for 10-12 year olds) are a few other excellent resources.
A recent new release by Nancy Guthrie, called One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters, is another I am really excited about. Here’s a snippet about it:
“Whereas most family devotionals focus on Bible stories or on practical moral lessons, Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters focuses on biblical themes, concepts, and words, in ways that are understandable to children without talking down to adults or teens. It will help your family take a step back to look at the big picture of what God is doing in the world and his purposes and plans in creating and redeeming the world. Once you and your family have worked your way through this book, you will have discussed nearly every major attribute of God and a host of profound theological truths, such as justiﬁcation, redemption, substitution, and sanctiﬁcation–without all those daunting words. You will have looked into important concepts from the Bible, such as covenant, adoption, judgment, and redemption, as well as spiritual realities, such as hell, angels, resurrection, and gloriﬁcation. This is not dry theology for theology’s sake, but living theology that makes a huge diﬀerence in how we do battle against temptation, deal with disappointment, and determine our futures.” Sample the first 10 chapters here.
From a young age, at least when we were first able to read (5-6 years), my dad would purchase for us our own Bible and encourage us to start our own personal devotions. We would start with The Picture Bible for our own reading before graduating up to a full bible. The Picture Bible was one we all loved and was so well read by each of us it would start falling apart. So we would do a personal devotions time followed by family devotions each day.
I pray you would be encouraged and blessed to press on in planting God’s Word in the hearts of your children! It’s a worthwhile pursuit.
What tools or tips can you share for establishing family devotion time together?