In the previous post, I introduced the concept of using just a portion each day on your family vacation to lead a mini-spiritual retreat for your family. Anyone can do it – truly! It only takes a little bit of advanced planning and just a few focused minutes of intentionality each day. Not only will your body and mind be refreshed by the week of vacation, but so will your soul by the daily interaction with God!
In this post, I will provide a sample one-week plan that you can use to guide your family’s daily devotional time on vacation. Each day includes simple instructions for training your kids how to spend meaningful time alone with God, followed by age-appropriate questions for debriefing your experiences together afterwards.
Dianna and I did this for our family not long ago. Each day, we followed basically the same 4-step routine:
4-Step Daily Routine for Family Devotions:
- Gather together for a short (5-minute) explanation / equipping time.
- Commit the time to God together in prayer (1-2 minutes).
- Disperse for each person to have their own individual time alone with God (15-30 minutes).
- Reconvene to discuss your experiences with each other (for just a couple minutes, or for as long as you want!).
DAY 1: During the car ride to our vacation destination, we told our children that we had a special gift that we wanted to give to them during this week of vacation. This gift is more important than theme parks, pools, lakes, mountains, or beaches. We are giving you the gift of a vibrant daily relationship with your heavenly Father! He delights in you and wants to spend time with you, listen to you, and speak to you!
Ahead of time, we wrapped up the devotional books that we had acquired for them. During the car ride, we gave them their wrapped-up books, and had them open their gifts and start flipping through the pages to get acquainted with the format of their new devotional books.
I explained that each day of vacation, our family would be devoting just a few focused moments together to grow closer to God, by learning how to establish a vibrant daily devotional habit with Jesus. I briefly explained the basic 4-step daily routine (outlined above), so that they would know what to expect each day.
You may want to plan anywhere from 30-45 minutes (total) for this 4-step routine each day, depending on the ages of your children and how talkative they are during your equipping time and debriefing discussion together. Beforehand, you will want to determine at what time each day you will lead the 4-step routine: mid-morning? before lunch? mid-afternoon? after dinner? We chose mid-morning, basically right after the latest sleeper had gotten up for the day (hey, this was still our vacation after all!).
Allow time during the car ride for questions and further explanation. Let the kids explore what you have decided to do. They will want to know why you are doing this – be honest with them. Share your heart with them. Share with them when you started your own daily devotional habit with Jesus, and what it has meant to you ever since. Or, if you are using this vacation to start your own devotional habit for the first time, share that with them as well – this may be something you are all starting together this week, and that is great!
DAY 2: At our chosen daily time, we assembled our family in a comfortable sitting area, and began the 4-step routine.
Step 1 is a your daily explanation / equipping time. During this time, you are briefly teaching your kids, one step at a time, how to have a vibrant time alone with God – giving them one new tool to employ each day. You are training them how to relate, 1-on-1, with their heavenly Father.
On this day, we explained how having a special meeting place for your time alone with God can make it really meaningful: a certain chair, a desk, a particular corner of the house, a porch swing, a specific tree or bench outside. We called this our “holy ground” and read Exodus 3:1-6 and Joshua 5:13-15 together.
We prayed together, then we told the kids to each claim a spot in or around our vacation lodging to setup their own “holy ground” for the week. These would be their own unique spots for spending time alone with God on each day of our mini-retreat. We encouraged them to use bed sheets and pillows to make their own holy ground special for the week. Once setup, each person took their devotional book and Bible and had their own individual time alone with God.
Afterwards, we gathered together and asked each person to share one thing they learned, felt, or prayed during their time alone with God.
DAY 3: On this day, we introduced the Biblical concept of hearing and recognizing God’s voice. We read and briefly talked about the following verses together: John 10:3-4,14 and 1 Samuel 3:1-10.
After a short prayer together, we each dispersed to our own holy ground setup with our devotional books and Bibles to spend time alone with God.
When we gathered back together afterwards, we asked if anyone felt like they heard anything from God as they read and prayed alone in their holy ground. We explained that it is okay not to hear anything audible, but to listen instead to the thoughts that come into your mind and the feelings that come into your heart as you pray and read God’s Word.
DAY 4: We continued teaching our kids the Biblical concept of hearing and knowing God’s voice. Today, we read and briefly discussed the following verses together: 1 Kings 19:11-13; Jeremiah 29:12-14a; Jeremiah 33:3; Isaiah 30:21; Deuteronomy 4:29; and Matthew 7:7-8.
After praying together, we scattered with our devotional books and Bibles to our individual “holy ground” spots.
After our individual devotional times, we gathered again and asked everyone to share one thought that came into their mind or one feeling they had in their heart as they read God’s Word and talked with God in prayer. We did not force discussion, but instead let it carry its own momentum until it felt like everyone had shared what they wanted to share.
DAY 5: Today, we briefly explained that having a set time each day for your devotions makes the habit easier to keep. Dianna shared her normal time of day for devotions, and why she chose that time; then I shared mine. Then we read Psalm 5:3 and Mark 1:35 together.
As before, we prayed together, split up with our devotional books to spend our own time alone with God in our separate holy ground locations, then reconvened together afterwards.
When we came back together, we asked each person to share one thing they learned, felt, or prayed during their time alone with God. Then, we asked each person to share when might be a good time of day for them to have their own time alone with God, once we return back home from vacation and get back into our normal routines.
DAY 6: On this day, we continued laying a Biblical foundation for having a daily time alone with God. We read and briefly talked about Mark 6:30-31 and Luke 5:16 together.
We prayed together, then dispersed for our separate time alone with God. We reconvened afterwards, and each of us shared one thought that had come into our minds or one feeling we had in our hearts during our devotional time.
DAY 7: During the car ride on the way back home, we had an interactive discussion together about how we can apply the things we learned this week to our everyday lives back home. We asked the kids to share where they might want to setup their own little “holy ground” back home. We asked them to share their ideas for when the best time each day to spend time alone with God might be, for them personally.
Finally, I prayed a prayer of blessing over them as we drove on together:
- that they would continue to cultivate a vibrant daily devotional time together with the Lord
- that they would develop a close, moment-by-moment relationship with Him
- that they would be able to recognize, know, and listen to God’s voice all throughout their lives
- that they would delight in speaking with God in authentic prayer
- that they would have a hunger and a thirst for God’s Word, and the discipline to satisfy that hunger each and every day of their lives.
In the next post, I will provide a few specific, practical tips for leading your family’s mini-spiritual retreat during your vacation – tips that can help the experience be a meaningful and impactful one for each member of your family.