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“What do you do for family devotions?”

How a simple question can help spur each other on to better family times with God.

If you’ve had a conversation with me in recent months, there’s a good chance I’ve asked you this question: “How do you spend your devotional time?”

It’s a question I’ve been asking - not to put people on the spot, but out of a desire to grow in this area myself, and an eagerness to learn from others.

I’ve been throwing in a second question if I’m speaking with someone who is also a parent: “Do you do family devotions, and if so, what does this look like?”

I’m the father of two young children, and while it’s early days (they’re aged 3 and 10 months) I want to get off to a good start. I want to help them to know and love the Lord and His Word. And if you’re a Christian parent, I’m sure you do too. But what’s your strategy for doing this?

How Spurgeon did family devotions

I can be big on good intentions, and small on action. While the spirit is willing, the flesh is often weak.

As I have wrestled with my own weakness, I have been spurred on by the example of other Christians. Take for example, Charles Spurgeon. This 19th century Baptist preacher is a hero of mine, and much of his life and ministry provides inspiration for godly living.

I recently read about what devotions looked like in his family - a daily event that took place at 6pm every evening, not only with his wife and sons, but also with whoever else happened to be in his home at the time. During this time, Spurgeon would lead a devotion from a passage of Scripture and pray. A visitor one evening observed:

“I remember, especially, his reading of the twenty-fourth of Luke: 'Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.' How sweetly he talked upon having Jesus with us wherever we go. Not only to have Him draw near at special seasons, but to go with us whatever labour we undertake…Then, how full of tender pleading, of serene confidence in God, of world-embracing sympathy were his prayers,…His public prayers were an inspiration and benediction, but his prayers with the family were to me more wonderful still…Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory.” [1]

What we can learn from Spurgeon's example

If you’re anything like me, you probably read this and thought: “Life was simpler back then. I could do that if I didn’t have so much on my plate, but life is busier now.”

In many ways, life was simpler back then; Spurgeon didn’t have to travel 90 minutes each way to get to and from work. And he didn’t have an iPhone.

But don’t be deceived - Spurgeon’s responsibilities were immense and his output extraordinary. If anyone met the criteria of “busy” it was Spurgeon. He often worked 18 hour days and when asked how this was possible replied: “You have forgotten there are two of us.”

I don’t share the example of Spurgeon to trigger feelings of guilt and inadequacy. I share his example for 2 reasons:

  1. I’m not convinced that as parents, “busyness” is our biggest enemy when it comes to time with God - either on our own or with our families. It’s easy to convince ourselves that when life slows down, or work is less intense, or when the kids are older things will be better. But is that true?
  2. I have discovered that it’s greatly encouraging to hear the stories of how others pursue faithfulness in the areas in which we too would like to grow. Every example shared is an opportunity to consider “would this be good for me and my family?”.

For me, asking other men about their family devotions has actually been a bigger blessing that I expected. I benefit from hearing how other men are seeking to lead their families. And we both benefit by having a meaningful conversation - taking seriously the instructions from God to disciple the small but precious congregations He has given each of us.

So at church this Sunday, why not have a go at asking the question yourself—“What do you do for family devotions?”. Many families will thank you.

About the author

Steven Kryger is the Chair of Katoomba Easter Convention - a great weekend away in the Blue Mountains with excellent Bible teaching for the whole family. Steven also recently wrote 12 Quality Resources To Help You Cultivate A Deeper Devotional Life In 2016.

[1] Arnold Dallimore. Spurgeon: A New Biography (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985), 178-179.

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