Every child has just 168 hours in a week, and on average, the church has only 1 of them, which leaves 167 other hours remaining, the majority of those being spent with their families.
Who do you think has the most influence? Who do you think has the most opportunity to infiltrate the heart and mind of a child with the truths of God and life-long godly habits and Christian character?
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in hine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up…” (In other words, training your children in the ways of God is to become a regular, and even daily, way of life.)
One of the greatest tools you can use as a parent to consistently develop the spiritual foundation and godly character of your children is a Family Altar, or more commonly known as Family Devotions. This is a component of family life that has become a real help to our family, having become a cornerstone for spiritual growth and training in our home.
God clearly commands us as parents in Ephesians 6, to bring our children up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” And that is unlikely to happen apart from some intentional times of us pouring into the hearts and minds of our children spiritually.
But interestingly, when God gave parents that command, it didn’t come with any detailed instructions to follow. It just says to do it.
Partly, because God has given us instincts as a parent. When you became a parent, did anyone have to tell you what to do? You instinctively knew certain things that were your responsibility (to clothe, feed, and educate your kids.) And those things that you have learned intuitively, you have passed on to your kids.
The same applies spiritually as well. It is our responsibility to “feed them, clothe them, and educate them” spiritually. As we grow spiritually, we teach them. And the deeper that we develop our own relationship with God, the easier it becomes for us to naturally pass that on to our children.
Deuteronomy 6 commands us to pass on our faith to our children when we sit down in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up.
The spiritual training of our children is supposed to be an everyday part of life, not something we simply relegate to Sundays or Wednesdays. And one of the best ways that we have found to help us do that is through having consistent family devotions.
Whether you currently do family devotions, have struggled to be consistent in doing them, or have never tried doing them, over the next two weeks, I’d like to give you some practical suggestions and tools of the Why, the What, and the How when it comes to family devotions. (We’ll cover the Why below, and the What & How in next week’s post.)
- You are to be the primary spiritual influencer in your home.
- The church’s job is not to educate your children spiritually, the church’s job is to come alongside of you as parents and reinforce what is already being taught at home.
- The church is a “second-voice” in your child’s life.
- Provides a Biblical training ground for your children.
- Family devotions is a prime place for doctrine to be taught, Biblical literacy to be established, cultural issues to be discussed, and biblical world-view to be formed.
- Sometimes as parents we inadvertently think that because we take our kids to church on Sundays, they will naturally know things like the books of the Bible, or how to look up chapters and verses, etc. But honestly, why shouldn’t we be teaching them those things at home?
- Opens up doors of spiritual communication.
- Family devotions give you and your kids an opportunity to talk about spiritual things, which unfortunately, many Christian parents never do outside of church.
- There are many times when I have a plan and a direction for our devotion for the night, but those plans are derailed (in a good way) by my kids and their questions. And before you know it, we are on completely different spiritual subjects altogether. But that’s okay, because the purpose of our devotion time is ultimately to facilitate spiritual discussion.
- Family devotions make your home an easy place for your kids to talk about spiritual things.
- Family devotions also provide a prime way for you to regularly share the gospel with your kids. Many times over the years our family devotion time would take on a gospel emphasis for sometimes weeks at a time when we knew that God was dealing in the heart of one our children. That nightly time allowed us to water the seeds of the gospel that had already been planted and were about to bring forth fruit.
- Prioritizes personal and spiritual time together.
- Your kids need to know that the Bible is a priority in your home. How will they know that if you never open it, read it, or discuss it together?
- Especially if you have young kids, I’d encourage you to always us a physical Bible and encourage your kids to as well. While having the Bible within technological reach on every device we own is a nicety, there is still something special about holding a physical Bible with pages and ink in your hand, knowing that it’s singular purpose (unlike a device) is to learn and hear from God.
- When our kids were very young, we would have them hold and hug the Bible while we did family devotions, because we wanted them from the youngest age to understand the importance we placed upon God’s Word.
- Helps you to grow together relationally and spiritually as a family.
- There’s just something special about growing closer to God with your family. Reading together, learning together, and praying together build spiritual memories that you will never forget.
- It also gives you an opportunity to teach your family what God is teaching you, as well as share stories of things that God has done in your life and on your spiritual journey.
- Ask yourself these questions – do my kids know when I was saved… how me and my spouse fell in love and got married… the things that have happened in our life to bring us to where we are now? All of those are opportunities to grow together spiritually as a family.
- Gives your kids an opportunity to ask you questions.
- Kids have lots of questions. And unfortunately, many of them go unasked and unanswered because parents don’t facilitate and cultivate opportunities.
- Family devotions allow you an opportunity to ask questions and answer questions.
- While I am in full support of answering questions in our children’s programming at church, I would much rather kids be getting the majority of their questions answered at home by their parents. The way that will happen is by parents doing the same thing we do at church – teaching kids the Bible and then asking them if they have any questions.
- You might just be surprised at how much your own kids are thinking about spiritual things and how much they are longing to know. You’ve just got to give them the chance to ask.
Hopefully, these things will challenge you to honestly consider The Why behind doing family devotions. Take it from a family that has done it, and let me assure you that it is very rewarding.
Charles Spurgeon – “Let us expect our children to know the Lord. Let us from the beginning mingle the name of Jesus with their ABC’s. Let them read their first lessons from the Bible… But let us never be guilty, as parents, of forgetting the religious training of our children; for if we do we may be guilty of the blood of their souls.”
In next week’s post, we’ll tackle the What and the How by giving you some practical and proven ways to successfully have family devotions. I’ll also be giving you a free gift that you can use to get started doing your own family devotions!
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