Folk have this idea of family devotions as a family huddled over a three hundred year old family Bible, everyone dressed in pinafores and having gotten up at four in the morning to pray and grind wheat to bake bread. Now noble as that may be that is hardly the reality of most families gathered together to study the Bible and spend some time praying together each day.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 specifically asks us to teach our children His ways as we sit as we stand and as we walk on the road – it isn’t a vague request, that we just hand our kids spiritual needs over to someone else and hope for the best – it is a direct command to parents. It is not some strange sort of legalism that we want to inflict on our children – but it is their Godly heritage and if we deprive them of it we are depriving them of their heritage.
When I talk of family devotions amongst most of our friends they look at us like we are a bit, well extremist or they squirm anxiously and hope the topic will change. They don’t have time, they are too busy, their kids aren’t interested. I have found that anything can be dull if you don’t make an effort to make it interesting for them, and we never have time to do stuff unless we intentionally plan it – since it is a direct command I don’t really have a problem with planning it directly!
In our house family devotions usually happen at meal times, when we are gathered together anyway! Little snippets of time throughout the day works best for us now when most of our children are small. The kids take turns to say grace before a meal even the smallest ones can do a good job. At breakfast time everyone has a turn to pray for someone, near or far around the world. At lunchtime we read our way through the Bible and talk about what we have read, the real Bible – they love waiting to hear the next installment in this great saga. At suppertime we just survive the meal!!! At bedtime one of our stories is always a bible story and we take turns praying together about our days and hopes and dreams.
We also do Sunday afternoon tea with our kids, not every Sunday, but most – they call it Bible Study, tea in a pot and a yummy snack! Not long 15 minutes or half an hour if there is lots of discussion. The father person reads something from the Bible and then asks the kids what they think about it – starting with the shortest verbal kid and working up. If you start with the oldest then we have found that no-one else gets to engage their own brain! Everyone has their own age appropriate Bible and it is a great honor to get to do the reading. This is one of the highlights of our kids week – they are spending time with their Dad – getting to know each other better and learning about their Godly heritage.
When I was a teenager I would spend my holidays visiting a Christian Family and at the end of the day, just before bed they would have family devotions and ask each other about their day, read a short Bible passage and pray together. This was not a “super crunchy Christian family,” just a regular family. Their kids were finished school and were working or studying or doing whatever it is young adults do! They obviously had been doing this all their lives and they obviously just carried on with it once the kids had finished school and started to go their own way. It was so normal and part of their routine that everyone just joined in. It had a profound influence on my life especially now that I have kids and I am “in the market” to teach my kids. We don’t change our routine if friends visit we just carry on – there is no squirming or worming of embarrassment to read the Bible, though we have had the odd guest look a bit well “quiet”! Soon enough they realize this is how we live and mostly they join in or sit quietly.
We don’t only read through the Bible sometimes we look at famous hymn writers, sometimes we look at missionaries and how they lived. Learning hymns together and making a joyful noise is a great way for younger children to be able to participate in church when a song they know comes up and there are many truths written in Hymns, they are well worth learning by heart for humming as you work through the day. We also talk about where the church came from, the history of the Church – there is a great leap between Bible Times and the Church today! What about the basic building blocks of Christianity that don’t get taught per se in church but they need to know about them… How does communion work? Why do we say The Lord’s Prayer? What does it mean? And so on…
Anyway moving onto the GiveAway… At last you may say! I am giving away these two books on Family Devotions: the first one is a very practical handbook on what they are and how to go about doing them in a realistic way! The other is an excellent book, which is a walk through the Catechism: each question covers a page and includes relevant Bible readings, topics for discussion and a hymn – perfect family devotions in a nutshell! Great for anyone really: couples, families with small kids, teens whatever… short and to the point and frankly I wish I could enter!!!
As usual I have to thank Christian Book Discounters who kindly supplied the books for this GiveAway…
The GiveAway works in the usual way, comment before the end of Friday and I will draw and publish the winner next week on Sunday! – I won’t respond to your comments as I usually do because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway!!! Good luck and get commenting!