We know that in order for any relationship to be strong we must treasure it. For our relationship to grow we must spend time together – this is also true with our relationship with God. We must spend time talking and listening to Him just as we do with other people who are precious to us.
Over the years I have learnt that it isn’t so much how we have our time with God, but that we do spend time with Him. It isn’t about being up early and reading for a set time, it isn’t about journaling, or doing it before the kids wake up. It is about finding the time, and the focus, and getting to know Jesus.
Our daily devotion isn’t something we have on our to-do list, it is a mindset that gives our love and attention to Jesus daily. This is the understanding that we must pass onto our kids – we don’t want them to do devotions as a to-do, but rather as a relationship-building part of their day.
As anyone who has practiced daily devotions themselves knows there are times that things get dry – times when you wonder if God is really listening, you feel like you’ve read it all before and nothing comes to you as fresh. Kids will see this as boring and “what is the point?”
When your kids start expressing this type of attitude towards daily personal Quiet time, it is a good time to remember that your children are people – just like you are people – and to remember your own challenges going through these spiritually dry times.
At times like this we would do any one of these things:
- Pray with the child and certainly pray ourselves for wisdom.
- Have the child come to us after their time with God, and discuss what they read and learnt, and then we’d pray together – this gives us an opportunity to help them hear and apply what they’ve read.
- Check that our child know how to pray by themselves – do they know how to adore, confess, and give thanks or do they only know how to ask?
- Go back to having personal QT together, maybe giving them time to Respond privately or maybe out loud together – both of us being open about what we are reading, thinking and praying.
- Encourage them to spend time listening to worship music as a part of their devotional time. Suggest that they listen to the words and respond accordingly.
- Give them a passage to memorise – more than a verse – a passage that you think will help them to focus on who God is.
- We often changed the format the child was following. This may mean buying a new devotional or encouraging them to have a different focus. Often the change that is needed is less knowledge about God and more heart-felt love towards him. This is indeed a great trap to fall into – we must keep our eyes on our love for God rather than our desire to know the Bible.
There is a trend these days to make everything fun for our children. I don’t have a problem with this – it has its place. Little children do respond to hands-on, bright colours and exciting voice tones etc. I can appreciate that what I am laying out as training for devotions may seem very unexciting. You need to do what fits right with your own style of teaching your children, as well as the needs of your individual child.
But we need to keep in mind what is the goal of this timeslot in our family life. For our family, it is to focus on the Word of God and our heart response to God. It is about developing a habit of giving time to God as a principle we live our life by. There are other times in our family life that we do fun activities around the Word of God. We must keep our eyes on our goal for this time.
At all times handle your children with grace and love, modelling our Heavenly Father’s responses to us.
And if I can just close with a very blunt comment: don’t make your children have Daily Devotions. There are other ways to help your children hear the Scriptures and to think about God throughout the day. By making them, by insisting, we make it a to-do, a religious activity, not a heart response to build a relationship.
Christian Parenting is about Discipleship: Christian Parenting is about discipleship in the family. As Christians we are called to make disciples and our children are the first people we are to teach.
How to Teach our Children to Hide God’s Word in their Heart: We need to expose God’s Word, the Bible to our children, if we want them to value it enough to hide it in their heart.
Are your Children Growing Spiritually? Parents want to know that their children are growing spiritually but we have to be careful not to make it a checklist of things they should be doing.
How to Respond when Teens Question their Faith: When teens question their faith don’t take it personally. They are just asking questions – and they need good answers. Be careful how you respond.