It’s a new year with some new goals that you may have as a family. What are they? Maybe it is eating better as a family. Or, being a better steward of all that God gave you. Maybe one of those New Year Resolutions would be being better at doing family devotions. Maybe last year you wanted to do it and you had all of the best intentions but it just never happened. All resolutions are tough to keep going but I would argue the spiritual ones seem to be even harder because we have an enemy, the devil, that wants to distract you and destroy you. You may start out strong but stuff happens throughout the year and you find yourself asking, “we didn’t really keep it up, what happened?” Why are family devotions so hard? Here are a few reasons why.
Because it is Important to do:
Anything that is important is going to be hard to do. I do not think family devotions need to be that hard but they need to be a top priority for us as parents. British Baptist leader, Erroll Hulse said, “Of foremost importance is family worship. That practice is something we must maintain at all costs. Tremendous and relentless pressures come upon families as far as time and commitments are concerned.” As Erroll Hulse argues it is of foremost importance for parents to do family worship (family devotions) yet it may be one of the most neglected things among Christian parents.
“Of foremost importance is family worship. That practice is something we must maintain at all costs. Tremendous and relentless pressures come upon families as far as time and commitments are concerned.
In Scripture, we see that the role of parents was sharing the greatness of God to their children. The Bibles says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV).” It is a privilege as well as our responsibility to share with our children who God is and His plan of salvation for mankind which is found in the pages of the Bible. We must view family devotions as important.
Because devotions are so important to do as a family it must be guarded as priority in our lives. If we do not block out to the time and guard that time, other things will come into its place and then we will find ourselves asking where did the time go? Or, I forgot! We live in a busy society but that is no excuse. We must guard the time and set it as a priority.
Because it takes commitment:
Just like any resolution we must be willing to commit to it even when it is hard. Family devotions will need to be something that you are committed to. You may have your children fight against it at first or they may not understand why you are even doing it but you must be committed. You must be willing to encourage them and point them in the ways of the Lord regardless. At the end of the book of Joshua he makes a declaration about following the Lord. He says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15 ESV).” He made a commitment in following the Lord. We can follow the Lord by reading the Bible together as a family.
We have young children and sometimes they are fighting against the family devotion time, especially our youngest. This takes some creativity where we can engage each of our children with where they are at in age and comprehension. We need to be committed even when it is hard. We need to be committed to doing devotions even when hiccups happen in life and we also expect these hiccups in our life. Are you committed as a family following the Lord? One of the ways we do that is through having family devotion time.
Some suggestions to try this year:
Again, family devotions do not have to be labor intensive nor overbearing for parents or children. They should be done with joy and reverence knowing that it is a time to worship our creator and to know him through his word.
- Do a yearly Bible reading program as a family. There are many types of reading programs that could be done as a family. You can go to YouVersion for some suggestions as they have many plans to choose from. A plan that I am excited to try this year is the 5 Day Bible Reading program from Bibleclassmaterial.com. Parents can also pick one chapter out of their daily reading that they go over as a family from the New Testament chapter or Psalm. If your children are older you can have them take turns reading from the Bible or each night a different child gets to read.
- Go through a Devotional Book. I am fan of Old Story New by Marty Machowski as a fun way of going through the New Testament. There are five studies to go through in a week where you go through the Gospels and aspects of the New Testament for the whole year. Another type of devotional that we are currently going through is Big Beliefs by David R. Helm. This book takes big doctrine and breaks it down into segmented teachings. We have had fun with it with our kids and recommend this one as well.
- If you have younger children I would suggest using the Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I have used this with my children and not only do the illustrations grab their attention but I love how each story from the Bible points to Jesus. Another good book for young children to use for family devotions would be The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung. Again, the illustrations are amazing and each story that is summarized from the Bible points to Jesus.
Maybe you have had some ways you and your family do devotions. What has worked for you? What has helped you and how were your kids engaged? We would love to hear from you.
- Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney
- A Neglected Grace by Jason Helopoulos
- The Family Worship Book by Terry L. Johnson
 Whitney, Donald S. Family Worship. Pg. 41