4 Practical Tips for Leading Family Devotions

family reading3So you’ve decided to devote just a few focused minutes each day to lead your family in interactive times of spiritual nourishment and growth.  That’s awesome!  It requires a bit of extra work and some daily intentionality, but you can do it!  You won’t regret it, and your family will benefit so much in so many different ways because of it.

If you would like a sample one-week schedule you can use to guide your family’s daily devotional time on vacation, click here!

Here are 4 practical tips to help you in leading your family’s daily devotional time:

1. What exactly do you instruct your kids to do during their time alone with God?  I teach them to do a simple routine that is basically the same I do myself as a grown-up.  The only difference is that I have provided them with a devotional guide book to help along.  I no longer use devotional guides myself, but I did for many years, and they were highly valuable in teaching me how to relate to God through daily devotions.  Here is a link to a full explanation of my daily devotional routine.  For the kiddos, I have taught them this simplified version of my routine, using their devotional book as an aid:

  1. Reading_Bible1Ask God to speak with you; open yourself up to hear from Him.
  2. Share your most present, urgent, and distracting thoughts & feelings with God, no matter what they are.  No matter how big or small, no matter how silly or serious – God loves for us to share our everything with Him!
  3. Open your devotional book to today’s date, and begin reading.
  4. When it references a Scripture verse or story, open up your Bible and read the verse or story from there.  Think & pray about what you are reading, always asking, “God, what are You saying to me through this?”  Write down any thoughts or insights you sense may be from Him.
  5. Ask God to direct your thoughts towards the people & situations that He would like you to pray for; then pray for whoever or whatever comes into your mind.

father-daughter2. My child cannot yet read.  Can she still develop a meaningful devotional habit?  Absolutely YES!  But she will need your help.  This is the one time where my favorite term for one’s personal devotional time (“time alone with God”) is not accurate.  For children who cannot yet read, one parent will need to help by doing their devotion together with them.  This is a wonderful teaching time, though, as you can walk with them through the steps for spending time alone with God, even coaching them through prayers and listening for what God may be saying to them through His Word.  Father God speaks to young and old alike.  Your young children will benefit from having you by their side in those early years, helping them discern the voice of God – just like the priest Eli did for the boy Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1-10.

3. How much should I expect of my kids’ time alone with God?  Don’t expect too much, and certainly don’t pressure your kids into thinking they have to come away with some amazing spiritual epiphany each day.  The goal here isn’t to try to manufacture spiritual fireworks, but to introduce your kids to a consistent, relational habit, built on simply talking to and listening to Father God.  The goal is a two-way conversation.  So whether that only lasts 4 minutes or 40 minutes – whether they come away with a whole page of notes or maybe just two words – either way, mission accomplished!  Your child sat alone with God, talked to Him, and listened for Him speaking through the Bible – that’s exactly what you’re hoping for!  Applaud even the smallest efforts.  Celebrate even the simplest insight.  They are getting to know God’s voice, and that is AWESOME!

family prayer44. What about having a guided family devotion together each day?  Yes, those are great, too!  If you are traveling together or on vacation, the driving time is a great opportunity for family devotions.  While driving to/from the beach, to/from the theme park, to/from Grandma’s house, etc., you could do a short family devotion together during the daily car ride.  Or you could lead a short devotional time during one of your daily meals together.  These can be a powerful addition to your daily time alone with God.  There are numerous wonderful resources out there to support family devotions.  Our week of vacation last year fell during the first week of December, so we did Ann Voskamp’s Christmas family devo book (Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas).  The cool thing about this book (and many others like it) is that it guided us in a short, meaningful, daily devotional time as a family for several more weeks after our vacation (with its mini-spiritual retreat) had ended!

What about you?  What other tips would you suggest to make family devotions successful?  Or what other questions might you ask regarding family devotions?  What problems or frustrations have you encountered with family devo time?  Leave a question or comment below, and let’s keep the conversation going!

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