I’m often asked what our family’s devotional time looks like. I’ve hesitated answering this question because the truth is not as poetic or glorious as I would like!
So before I get to the gory details, let me tell you the good part. Our family’s devotional time is one the most consistent pieces of our family puzzle. As my girls get older and life gets busier there are a lot of shifts, turns and adjustments that take place in order to make everything fit around what matters most to us—growing together in God’s Word.
Consistency is key. So, at least three evenings a week we are committed to sitting together around the kitchen table after dinner or sprawling across a bedroom floor before bed and studying God’s Word together. This takes on many different forms, but it always ends in prayer and a time of worship. (by worship I mean one song!)
This sounds good, right?
Just picture it, my husband and I, hand in hand, surrounded by our four daughters singing worship songs, playing the ukulele and quoting scripture. Just thinking about it makes me…
…did you think I was going to say smile?
Sorry to disappoint. Thinking about it makes me cringe a bit and it has made me cry on more than one occasion. Don’t get me wrong, we do have some tender moments with smiles, giggles, and intriguing conversation but truthfully that’s not the normal.
I cringe because our daughters are 12, 10, 7 and 7 (twins) and we have a 7-month-old puppy. So yes, we are surrounded by our girls but if we are holding a hand, it’s normally to prevent them from throwing a sock at their sister or from feeding the dog the week old bag of chips he found under their bed.
I cry because our daughters are 12, 10, 7 and 7 and we have a 7-month old puppy! You don’t have to let your imagination do the work there. Every form of mayhem that you can imagine happens or has happened during our family’s devotional time. Nothing makes you feel more like a spiritual failure then having to punish a child in between Bible verses!
But despite the chaos around us as we seek to put God first in our family, I am grateful.
I am grateful because God is good and He chooses to meet us right in the middle of the chaos.
It’s often when I least expect it that God shows us a moment of success. It might be our daughters harmonizing on a worship song with pure hearts. Or it might be us hearing one of them respond to a Bible question with accuracy and confidence in the truth. It could be us seeing them make the decision to spend time in God’s Word and prayer on their own. Or it could be them applying what they’ve learned and us seeing a moment of growth in them that we didn’t know existed. Regardless of how it happens, I can’t help but thank the Lord for His working in the mess.
Remember that God has not asked us to perfect our children and then lead them to His grace. As parents He has called us to create an environment where they see His grace lived out through us, in a way that lines up with His Word. Jesus entered the chaos for us, so we choose to enter the chaos with our girls.
So despite the commotion, laughter, fidgeting, and tears, here are a few things we do or have done as family during our devotional time together:
- Read the Bible. Either choose a new passage, use one that you have been studying during your personal time or even have your children choose one to share. Remember that God’s word is enough. Allow them to ask questions and relate what you read to everyday situations. Recently we chose to use the Bible Story Book by Nelda Banek. This Bible book summarizes each book of the Bible into concise groupings of chapters and ends with a few questions that help start a conversation. It has amazed us to see the recall and insight that our girls have had using this resource.
Bibles my girls love:
- Zondervan Faithgirlz (They offer a plethora of Bibles to choose from!)
- A Child’s First Bible (for younger kiddos)
- We’ve used online devotionals, audio and written. The audio is perfect for a night when you are just plain out of energy. It allows someone else to moderate while you try to keep yourself from a meltdown! The written is good for when you are out of words, but you still want to lead. This can be an app on your phone, a website or even a podcast. A few we love:
- Read Biblically-based books. Often Jonathan and I will choose a book to read chapter by chapter together with the girls—
And of course we love our own For Girls Like You resources! Each devotional was actually written from conversations and time spent with my girls. My girls now use the devotionals during their personal time and we use them around our table together. You can find You’re God’s Girl and For Girls Like You Devotionals here.
A few helpful tips:
- If you have multiple children with a variety of ages like we do then you can create a schedule, giving each child a turn to lead your time together. Not only does this build them up in God but it builds them up in patience, grace, and kindness for each other. Don’t get frustrated if this doesn’t happen right away. We have to admit that we are a work in progress ourselves.
- If you ever have guests over or extended family, use it as an opportunity to invite them into the conversation. We have found that our girls’ interest peaks if they get to hear someone else’s journey with God. It gives them a different perspective and reminds them that we aren’t alone on this journey.
- Get creative. God has given you everything you need to succeed. It comes down to allocating the time and attention and being willing to pull up to the table of hardship. Treat it like a workout. Everyone works out a little differently depending on their particulars. Spiritual exercise is no different.
- Have Fun. Worshiping and spending time with God can be fun. Yes, learning can always seem “boring,” and routine can start to feel “old,” so make sure you are doing things to inspire them, open their minds, and captivate them. The options are limitless!
Most of all I encourage you to be consistent. Be committed. Be patient.