Family Devotions That Won't Burn You Out

famtime-logoWhen my kids were little, I tried to do family devotions every night. That lasted about 3 weeks, and then life happened. Once I stopped, I never went back. How could I have kept it going?

I knew that Scripture commands us to teach God’s ways to our children (Psalm 78:4-7) but when the going got tough, I got off track and never found it again! I learned the hard way that overcommitting can lead to burnout. I should have set realistic goals for doing a devotional time with my kids. If I had paid attention to Scripture I could have known God's principles for teaching children. One of those principles is that our teaching should be in the everyday matters of life, as Deuteronomy 6:7 expressly tells us. Another one is clearly shown by Jesus. He used object lessons and parables to teach His followers. Those adults needed object lessons to help them learn, so it should be no surprise that kids need them too. 

Actually, Jesus was just following God's example. God expressly instituted Passover as an object lesson for parents to share with their children. Read about it in Exodus 12:24-27, 13:14-16. Passover came only once a year, so maybe daily devotionals weren't required. with these lessons in mind, here are a few hints to help you teach your children in a fun, memorable family devotion time.

Helpful hints for starting and maintaining family devotions:

Always use a visual example, or even better, an activity, to illustrate the biblical truth.

Set a weekly family devotion time on your calendar.  Daily devotions (at least the fun kind) are too hard to maintain.

Prepare well.   One memorable devotion weekly teaches better than a boring one done daily. Since the helps I recommend include good lesson plans, your preparation can be simple and quick.

Make it fun by letting your kids learn at their own pace. They may only remember the funny face you made and fail to learn the Biblical point. That's ok. Relax. Count on the fact that you've got 51 more to do and eventually, they'll learn.

Determine to stay with it even if you don't get a standing ovation each time. Make it a priority and build it into your family's routine.

Clear other responsibilities.  Turn off cell phones.  Let others know that this time is important to reduce interruptions.  Plan a simple meal on that evening so clean up is easy.

Pray for God’s help discerning what is going on in your child’s heart, and choose a topic that addresses it.

Encourage participation by asking open ended questions (not yes or no) if part of the lesson includes discussion.

Look for applications of the lesson throughout the week. (this follows the pattern of Deuteronomy 6:7)

Engage older children to do the activity and teach the lesson to the younger ones.

Find and use available resources - there are some great ones out there, including the six books from the National Center for Biblical Parenting called Family Time Activities. The icon above is a link to purchase them.

Another great source is available free by subscribing to