Saturday, July 25, 2009

What Our Family Devotions Look Like

Family devotions/worship/bible study has now become a regular and very enjoyable part of our lives. I thank God for His grace in bringing us to the point of consistent family devotions.

Based on my discussions with other Christians, I believe there are many Christian parents who have never even considered having a regular time of family devotions. They've never heard of it, so it is not even on their radar screen.

For others, they have a desire to spend time in family devotions, but they do not know how or where to begin. Their difficulty is what we might refer to as "the launch."

In light of all this, I thought I would describe what our family devotions look like from start to finish. If this is helpful, then I'm thrilled. I hope that those of you who also have a regular family devotional time will leave comments describing what you do, what has worked well, what hasn't, etc.

Here we go:

We plan to begin at 8:00 AM and finish by 8:30. This doesn't always happen, but it does fit our family's schedule well. We all know that we need to plan to eat breakfast before 8:00 or wait until after 8:30.

We tend to sit at the dining room table for devotions.

We usually begin by going through 10-20 catechism questions and answers. We have decided to to use the Baptist Catechism published by Desiring God Ministries, but I'm sure there are other options. The question and answer format of a catechism is simple to follow, and everyone enjoys it. I read the questions, and then we all answer them together. It is exciting to hear my three kids rattle off a biblical answer to questions such as "What is God?" and "What is sin?"

Next, we usually move on to singing a hymn or two. One of the children often picks the hymn we will sing. My only concern is that we sing hymns that are faithful to the scriptures, so I act as a sort of filter in deciding if the hymn is appropriate (biblical). Alice and I decided a while back to use the Celebration Hymnal. We have found this to be a solid hymnal that is full of the great hymns of the faith. As an added bonus, since Alice plays the piano, we sometimes sit in our living room and sing with her playing. We are thrilled to hear our children praising God and learning wonderful songs. By the way, hymns are certainly not the only options. There are many good, modern praise choruses out there.

After singing, we go to the bible. As the family's spiritual leader, I take it as my responsibility to lead this process carefully. With my wife's sage advice, I select the book we will study. We are currently in the middle of the book of Proverbs. Each day we have family devotions, we read either one or two chapters. To cut down on confusion and frustration, it is very important for everyone to have the same version of the bible (we use the NKJV, but I would be just as happy with any of several other versions). Since all our kids are old enough to read, we take turns, splitting each chapter into five segments. I try to give time for the kids to ask questions; they usually have not only several questions, but also some very good comments. We find that all five of us learn during this process.

We conclude our devotions with a time of prayer. Many times only one of us will pray. I either pray, or ask someone else to pray. We use this time to praise the Lord for who He is and what He has done, to thank Him for His provision for us, to intercede on behalf of others, and to ask Him to help us live holy lives for Him today. Now, the prayers aren't always like that, but I hope they are most of the time.

We have found that morning devotions work well because they set a tone of godliness for the day. I realize that not everyone can do this in the mornings, but if you can, I highly encourage you to do so.

Everyone can find the time to have family devotions at least three or four times per week. For some of us, the question is simply "Will we do it?"

Do it. You will never regret it.

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