For many around the world, the school holidays are a time for family vacations and travel. Many spend weeks, even months, planning and preparing for their week away as a family. Many save up all year long in order to have the funds needed to travel, rest, and relax for a week together with their families.
With just a little extra planning and intentionality, you can also make your family vacation into a family spiritual retreat. Not only will you refresh your bodies and minds, but your souls as well. And your family will share the bond of having encountered God together while away on vacation!
Anyone can do this, and there is very little cost. Keep reading!
Preparation ahead of time: Acquire age-appropriate devotional guides for each member of your family. You can buy or borrow these, depending on your budget and access to such resources.
Dianna and I recently did this with our family: our kids were 9, 8, and 5 at the time of our vacation. Here were my personal guidelines when looking for devotional material for them:
- I wanted devotionals that gave a short, guiding thought or story or truth,
- a few Scripture references for the child to look up in his/her own Bible, and
- a short prayer introduction / guide for each day.
I’ll explain these three priorities a little further:
First, I wanted the devotional material to be truth-filled and meaty, not just shallow and fluffy.
Second, I wanted my kids to be flipping through the pages of their Bibles, not just reading a verse printed on the page of the devotional book. I wanted them to start learning through daily experience how their Bible is organized, where the Books are, and what it’s like to find a meaningful verse, read it, and see where it appears on the page. This is an invaluable daily exercise.
Third, I wanted a devotional book that did not leave the day’s entry finished with a story and a Scripture, but also provided a short prayer guide for the child to follow or personalize. I wanted the kids to get into the habit of taking each thought, each question, each feeling, each moment to God in prayer, developing that constant inner dialogue with God that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 teaches us to have.
- For our 9-year-old, we had already been given a copy of Jesus Calling for Kids.
- For our 8-year-old, we purchased a new copy of The Adventure Bible.
- For our 5-year-old, we used The Beginner’s Bible which the older two children had used when they were her age.
So our first step was to get them each a devotional guide book to use during the special “retreat” hour each day on our vacation. Also, when you do this, make sure each child has their own Bible to read during their devotional time. Those are the only two materials you need to gather ahead of time: a devotional guide and a Bible for each member of your family. (Dianna and I already had our own Bibles and journals for ourselves to use.)
Now you have everything you need to add a spiritual retreat element to your family vacation by investing one hour each day in your family’s spiritual nourishment and growth!
In the next post, I will provide a sample one-week plan you can use to guide your family’s daily devotional time on vacation. Each day will include simple introductions for training your kids how to spend meaningful time alone with God, and age-appropriate questions for debriefing your experiences together afterwards.