When it comes to daily devotions our strategy is simply:
- Read the Bible
- Repeat the next day.
Surely you could be more creative?
Browsing the internet brings an abundance of creative ideas when it comes to reading the Bible with your kids – printables, reading plans, amazing hands-on sensory experiences. For many people, these ideas are inspiring and motivational. For me, they are exhausting.
I am not good at sticking with anything that involves too much creative effort. When pregnant with my eldest, I finally threw out three craft projects I had kept since I was 7. I never finished them.
But as soon as our son was born, we knew that we wanted him to read the Bible every day and develop a real prayer habit. But it needed to be simple, something we would easily do day after day. So after much deliberation we decided on our strategy – just read it. We picked a children’s picture bible that suited his age and read a section each day. When it was finished? We simply started again at the beginning.
Which children’s Bible?
Our eldest was always an excellent listener, so it didn’t really matter what children’s Bible we used, he would lap it up, even the really wordy ones. The next two? Not so much… So, now we stick to The Beginners Bible. Nice, brief chapters with lots of bold pictures and simple, straightforward text. Sometimes we stop and give a little explanation of what we read, or tie it to the bigger picture of the Bible, or ask some simple questions to check they were listening or to make some simple applications. Sometimes we don’t.
And when you pray?
To pray, we simply started by praying about things the Bible raised – thanking God that he made the world, or telling him how amazing we think he is for keeping his promises. We also pray for things in our children’s lives, because we want them to know that our great big, mighty God cares for them personally. Finally, we pray for one person or group each day who we have some contact with – a sponsor child, a missionary family or our church leaders. We have a little list with one of these people or groups allocated to each day. In this way, we try to help them see the bigger picture of God at work beyond our own little family.
But, when do I have time for this?
In our family, we do this at breakfast. We found that no time was ideal. But, my husband works irregular hours and evenings have been chaotic for a few years as dinner time seems to fall right in the middle of ‘melt-down hour’ and trying to do anything with any sense of calm or patience at that time just wasn’t going to happen. So, for now, it is breakfast. We can revisit this when everyone has grown up a little more. It takes us 5 to 10 minutes. It is totally manageable!
As simple and unexciting as our devotional time is, it is working. Apart from those routine-free periods that happen occasionally, usually on holidays, the Bible is read and prayer happens every day.
Simple and central
Of course, there are many other ways we connect the children to God and His word throughout the day: chatting about things we see or experience; directing them to think about their actions, or what they learn at Sunday School; thanking God for things around us or talking to Him about things as they happen. All these interactions are an important way we disciple our children. But a set devotional time shows them that God is central to our family, that gathering around his word and talking to him in prayer is essential to our family life. And it sets habits for them in later life.
Go on, just do it!
You may do something far more interesting and creative with your family. But for those of you, who like us, may need things to be simpler or who have yet to start a set time of Bible reading and prayer in your family: Can I encourage you to just start. Don’t worry about what other people in your family or church may do that seems so complicated and amazing. That’s great that they can do that! But you don’t need to. Just fix a time, grab and Bible and get on with it!