Does your family spend time in the Bible or doing family devotions together? Today we’re sharing some encouragement for how to get started with family devotions!
Some of you might cringe at the idea of family devotions, remembering stale times around the dinner table listening to a passage of Scripture you didn’t understand and waiting impatiently to finally be able to eat! If that was your experience, let me assure you, that is not what family devotions need to be!
God has given me a passion for His Word, so spending time together as a family in His Word during our devotional time is important to me. However, family devotions isn’t the only component of spiritually investing in our kids. Family devotions is only a piece to the puzzle, but it is an important piece that can be a catalyst for helping our kids learn and love God and His Word.
As important as it is to me to have consistent family devotions, I haven’t always known how to implement them.
- What do family devotions look like?
- How often should we engage in family devotions?
- How do we get started?
As we continue to add to our family and as the kids grow and change, the way we do family devotions changes, but here are some ideas to help you get started.
1. Start simple.
If I set a goal of waking up an hour earlier each morning, the most effective way for me to change my habit is to start incrementally. If I move from 7 am back to 5 am right from the start, I’ll end up feeling exhausted and failing.
You could replace the goal of waking up earlier with beginning a running program. If I want to start running, gradually increasing my speed and distance will result in greater success and longer lasting change. Attempting to run five miles (or maybe even one!) right out of the gate is a sure fire way for disappointment, failure, or even injury.
The same can be true of family devotions.
When I first started planning our family devotional time, I imagined elaborate activities followed by deep conversations around the Word of God. Visions of eager-to-learn, compliant, calm children hanging on my every word filled my mind.
What a set-up for disappointment!
My kids are kids! Changing the kids’ routine and our expectations of them is better done gradually and with intention rather than suddenly.
So start small. This will look different for each family, but it may mean you
- start by having family devotions 1x-2x per week or
- set a goal of spending 10 minutes each morning reading a Bible passage and praying together or
- jump start your family’s devotional time by using a devotional centered around a holiday, like Easter, to build momentum or excitement.
It’s okay to start small. Just start somewhere!
2. Be realistic.
As you plan your devotional time together, consider the age and activity level of your kids. Some people learn best or focus better while moving; others need stillness and quiet. Some kids will listen more attentively while coloring a picture.
Adjust your activities, the resources you use, and the time you spend according to the needs of your kids and your family.
Remember how old your kids are and try to choose age appropriate activities to help engage your children in the Word of God. I’m not beyond stretching the kids to grow, but understanding my kids’ abilities, interests, and learning styles calibrates my expectations and helps me as I plan.
3. Set a time.
We all know how hectic life is. In our home, if we don’t intentionally set a specific time to gather together, family devotions gets overlooked or crowded out.
Look at your schedule and see what fits best and then make family devotions part of your family’s rhythm. Perhaps it’s every Sunday evening or on Saturday mornings; maybe family devotions happens right before bedtime or around the breakfast table. Find what works best and seek to be consistent.
4. Have a plan.
Your plan doesn’t need to be elaborate, but having an idea of what you’d like to focus on or what you will do during your family devotion time is helpful. If any supplies are needed, gather them ahead of time.
I have found that if I’m not prepared, I’m more likely to skip family devotions all together or I’ll lose the kids’ attention while I’m scrambling to gather what I need.
Remember however, that though we may have a plan, God may speak in a way we hadn’t planned! Sometimes the kids will have questions and your conversation may go in a different direction or God might prompt you to sing a song or read a different passage or do something different than you usually do — that’s okay! A plan is helpful, but we want to follow the Spirit’s lead.
5. Aim for transformation, not just information.
While it’s wonderful for our kids to know Bible stories, remember Bible facts, and retain information about the Bible, our goal in family devotions is not just for our kids to retain information. We want to see life transformation brought about by the Holy Spirit of God!
We cannot manipulate God or force the Holy Spirit to work, but we can ask Him to be at work in and through us and in the hearts and lives of our children. God does not only speak to adults — God speaks to children, too! Part of our responsibility in leading our children spiritually is helping our kids listen to and respond to the Holy Spirit of God.
Don’t complicate this important time together. Ask God to guide you and go get started!
Question for you:
What advice would you give others who are just beginning family devotions?
Resources for You:
- If you have young kids –> Resources for Family Devotions — over 20 different resources to help your family spend time together in God’s Word
- If you have elementary/middle school kids –> Our favorite resources for Family Devotions
Grab our free Surprisingly Simple Plan for Family Worship here!
Claire Trainor says
These are all great tips! We now have a family devotion time during breakfast 4-5 days a week, but it took us a while to get into a groove. Consistency is so important with kids, and even though they still grumble and complain sometimes as all kids do, the fact that it’s just a regular part of our mornings now definitely cuts down on the protest. I also had to learn to not take it personally and to remember that we have an enemy who doesn’t want our family to grow in Christ. While I definitely want to take some cues from my kids and try to make our devotional time as engaging and meaningful as I can, I also can’t take every eye roll and huff and puff as a sign that I’m doing a poor job or that the Holy Spirit isn’t at work in their lives. Of course we will have more arguments and spills and toddler tantrums during that time; the enemy doesn’t want us to persevere in digging into God’s Word! The more I recognize that the more motivated I am by those interruptions instead of discouraged by them. This is warfare for the souls of my kids, and while the battle is ultimately the Lord’s He has given me a role in the fight. As I’m learning to be more sensitive to the Spirit’s leading I’m learning to give up control of how that time goes. We use a simple devotional with a passage, reflection, and a couple questions, and we mostly stick to it, but when someone has a question that takes us on a tangent we roll with it as long as the conversation is still centered around biblical truths. I’ve also recently realized that my oldest (almost 11) is way more engaged when I let him take the lead a bit, and even though his younger siblings protest sometimes, I’m excited to see our oldest more engaged and motivated by being the one to read and ask the questions. Our family dynamics are always changing as kids go through different stages, so our devotional times need to be flexible and grow with our family, but the one thing that is consistent is that we are modeling for our kids that God’s Word and knowing Him together as a family are central to who we are as a family. I want my kids to know that while it may look differently in different seasons, God’s Word and prayer are our lifelines and as long as they are in our home we will expect them to be present during the most important time of our day.
Thank you for all your encouragement and wisdom!