God instructed the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 6:6–9, "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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Though these specific commands do not apply to believers today, this passage makes it clear that God's intent is for parents to teach their children about God and His ways. God's Word should be at the forefront of our lives and the center of our homes.
Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." One way we teach our children this truth is by coming together as a family to be in God’s Word and praying together.
Proverbs 22:6 gives this wisdom: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." As parents who love God and believe Him, we want to help our children also come to love and believe Him. Setting aside time for family devotions each day will show our children that God is the center of our lives, spending time with Him is our priority, and we desire to do His will. We want to show them that God can be the center of their lives, too. We also want them to see how God guides them through life in their community, schools, family, and decisions. Being in the Word feeds us with everything we need from advice, to wisdom, to His salvation. It sets us up with a solid foundation and a place to turn in times of trials, tribulations, and praise.
Family devotions are a wonderful time for discussions with your children. As you read through God's Word, you can discuss the ways in which it is relevant to their lives. For example, some of your discussions might include the ways in which God's character applies to our attitudes and behaviors. Be sure to not only discuss troublesome behaviors, but positive ones as well. Your discussions might also include questions about how and why the world works the way it does. You might find yourselves talking about your relationships with others and the ways in which God's character and His commands help transform those. These discussions can help your children see that God's Word is "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12) and "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16b–17).
Family devotions help create a firm foundation for your children's spiritual growth. In practicing the spiritual disciplines of reading God's Word and prayer together, you help train your children to carry these practices with them through life. You're also helping them to learn the truth of God's Word and to come to know Him better. When we dive into God’s Word, we are teaching our children that God loves and cares about them and us relentlessly. When we pray, we are showing our children that we have access to a God who is holy, loving, and able to meet our needs. Our family devotions will likely challenge our faith and contribute to our spiritual growth as well.
Family devotions also help us meaningfully connect with our children in the midst of a sometimes hectic world. Taking time to pause to focus on God together is the sweet intimacy of Christian fellowship. A family time that is set apart can also serve as a time to relate with one another. As we share our prayer requests or discuss how God's Word applies to our lives, we are sharing in our lives. Dedicating this time to focus on your children and on God can help strengthen your relationship with your child.
Family devotions do not have to be elaborate. You can keep them as simple as reading through a passage that pertains to issues you might be facing in your family, to reading through a certain book of the Bible, or purchasing age-appropriate devotional books. You can include time for worshipping with music if you desire. There is no set time-length that devotions have to last, but you can be assured that you will soon find this experience to be a joyful time together. At the conclusion of your time together, pray for God’s goodness in your family, any requests of friends and family, and for His guidance in your lives. Remember to praise God for His answers to your prayers, too. Create an environment that is calm, loving, and memorable, one that your children will want to impress upon the lives of their children.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).
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