Having family devotions with children at any age is a challenge. With young children especially, parents must combat the “wiggle worm” and a short attention span. However, family devotions are vital to the healthy spiritual life of a family. Young children are often taught to pray during family devotions. They learn to ask questions about God and talk about Him openly. Everyone in the family benefits from spending time together around God’s Word. For those of you with young children, here are a few tips to help you make family devotions a vital part of your family life.
1. Start Now! Do not wait until your children are school-aged before setting aside time for family devotions. Children are able to comprehend ideas about God and the Bible at much younger ages than we give them credit for. Even if your two-year-old cannot comprehend what Jesus’ death means to him, teaching facts at a young age is building a solid foundation for spiritual growth in the future.
2. Pick the Right Time. This will vary by family. Some families are full of morning birds and can have effective devotions early in the day. For other families, just before bed is an ideal time. For us, just after dinner time works best during the week. We move directly from the dinner table to the living room (the dishes wait) and spend time with God. On the weekends my husband brings the Bible to the kitchen table as we are finishing breakfast.
3. Have a Plan. If you want to have devotions as a family consistently, you must have a plan for what you are going to read and discuss. If you leave the method to chance, you probably will not be successful. Our family started in the book of John. We would read one paragraph per day and then discuss and explain it to our children. We then moved to the book of Proverbs.
4. Keep it Short. It is not realistic to expect your one and three year olds to sit through a twenty minute dissertation on the Bible. Aim for about five minutes of discussion after the passage is read. Even small children can sit still for this short period of time. This is also good practice for preparing your child to sit still in church.
5. Include Prayer. There are few things as precious as hearing your young child talk to God. Teach him early to depend on his relationship with the Lord, don’t leave it to chance. We put missionary prayer cards in a photo album and my husband and I each pray for one missionary at the end of our family devotions. Our two year old has learned the names of several missionaries and even asks to pray for some of them himself.
Don’t leave family devotions to chance. Start early, be consistent and reap the rewards in your child’s future.
For more great ideas and information on devotions, check out these articles: