Are you looking to create deeper connections with your children in their faith journey? Join us on Episode #54 as we dive into a topic every parent can relate to: how to guide your kids in making their daily devotional time more meaningful. 

And I’ve also got a special bonus for you— Heart Booster download with 5 prompts designed to help your child connect with God on a deeper level during their daily devotions.

Don’t let your child’s devotional time become just another task on the checklist. Tune in now to equip yourself with the tools that will make their faith journey more real for them. 

These 3 Skills will Help your Child’s Devotional Time

The main focus of our daily devotions is to build a relationship with God. There are many “skills” required to build a relationship (to build any relationship) – we listen, we talk, we need to be honest, we remember, we celebrate. All these aspects of relationship can be a part of our relationship with God too.

 Though when it comes to our daily time with God there are some specific skills that we use to have that devotional time, and we can encourage our children to learn these skills so when they read the Word of God they can make that time meaningful.

When I have my Devotional time I

  • Read
  • Think
  • and Respond

These 3 basic skills are foundational skills that will help our kids connect with God.

I heard this quote many years ago – and it was an illustration I talked about with my kids that helped them see that their Devotion time was more than just reading the Bible.

“Reading the Bible without meditating on it, is like trying to eat without swallowing.” (Anonymous) 

 

Download a copy of Devotion Response Kit to help your kids connect with Jesus in their Devotions

 

Before we dig into those three skills and how they play out in our daily devotions I just want to mention a developmental pattern when it comes to daily devotions.

As we know we set the example – so our children need to see us reading God word, thinking about, talking about and responding to it.  I know as a young mum we pine for those moments we can have alone with God, but sometimes in a season of family life that just isn’t going to happen.  And if we can see the example we are setting our children – then it turns what we see as a limitation (not able to spend time with God by ourselves) into an opportunity (spending time with our God and our children!).

So in the early days, the kids would wake up, and come out to find me reading the Bible.  They were told this was my quiet time… and I don’t mean Quite Time as in Devotions – I told them this was a shhhhhh time!!  And they could sit and read or go back to bed!  

It didn’t take long before they had their Bible or Bible picture books and they did their Devotion time beside me.  I would often read a story to them, and talk about it, and pray togehter after I finished journaling myself.

Eventually, they would read the Bible story for themselves, we’d talk about it and they’d pray with me too.  Then they moved to doing this by themselves somewhere else in the house.

So it starts with an example, then they join you and it is during this time they learn the skills, and then they are off on their own.  

So keep that process in mind as we talk about these skills – regardless of how old your child is – if teaching them how to have devotions is a new idea, then you need to still go through those phases.  Model, Practice, Do.

These 3 Skills will Help your Child’s Daily Time with God

Read:

As I said, before our children could read independently they had their quiet time with me so I could read the Word of God to them.  Sometimes this was a picture book, sometimes a children’s Bible, sometimes a verse or two from what I was reading.

 I encouraged our children to read the Bible for themselves as early as possible in their reading journey. In fact, a Children’s Bible was one of their earliest readers, and once they were independent readers I bought a full proper Bible, but a reader’s edition.  This was one way that we elevated the Bible as an important book for their life.  

Once my children were independent readers, and to a degree had an independent relationship with God, they had input into what they chose to read for their devotional time. Over the years different children chose different things – in the young years they had a devotional book relevant to their age, but they also chose to read a specific book of the Bible, or reading plan that helped them read a little bit each day.  I never expected that they finished it – if it became hard or irrelevant we found something else.  These days  I know teens enjoy apps on their phones – that may or may not work for your teen.  

Just a comment though on finding devotional books for teenagers.  So many of the teen devotionals are written for stereotypical teen challenges.  If your teen isn’t facing those challenges then those devotional books won’t be that relevant for them.  My kids enjoyed adult devotional books more.  So don’t box your kids into what you think is best for them – talk about what they need, and what they want to try.  

 

Think:

Initially thinking skills are in the form of comprehension. In those early years –  I would always ask a child to narrage back to me what they heard. This helped them keep their attention while I read, as they knew they would have to retell it.

 The most exciting thing about a child retelling something is you get a glimpse into their heart. They will innocently retell something from the angle of something that sparked in their heart and this gives you an opportunity to fan the fire as you discuss that aspect further. If we go into Devotion time, or even Bible study time, with a pre-determined plan that we aren’t prepared to let go of, we will miss this opportunity. So listen carefully as your children talk back about the things they have heard and be ready to go down a few rabbit trails.

 Another way to teach them to think is to ask them questions:  ask them what it meant to them, or how they can apply it in their lives, or if they have any questions.  By talking about what they are thinking we can dig deeper and they grow further.

A third way to teach them to think is by sharing what we are thinking. When we share what the Bible verse/s mean to us, what it made us think of and how we are going to respond to it – that helps them see what thinking about the Bible looks like.  They will start to mimic you and that then becomes a skill they will develop themselves.

 

Respond:

You will find a trend in our family to respond to learning situations by writing. This is our family way. This is not the only way; this is why I use the word “respond”, rather than writing or journaling. Your response to God can be with Music, with Song, with Dance, with Prayer, with Thought, with Art, with action.

 God does not set out a requirement for a Devotion Journal! The reason I like to Journal is it helps me stay focused, and becomes a record of my thoughts and prayers, a record of what God has put in my heart.  A journal becomes a point of focus for our children as they process what they are hearing and thinking about.  My kids, my girls really, enjoyed colour with markers and stickers.  They boys just wrote.

A Devotion Journal is not the height of spirituality, but rather a tool for us to use as we respond to God’s love towards us. Faith without action is no faith at all, the Bible tells us, so our ultimate response to God needs to be a changed life.

So as you teach your child to read, and think, and respond don’t limit them to a particular way or style – but do challenge them to be conscious of how they are responding to what God has said to them.

Why have a Devotional Time with God?

It is important that our children understand why we have a daily devotional time and why we are encouraging them to do it too.   It is about setting aside time where were can connect with Jesus and by connecting with him daily our relationship grows stronger.  

Any encouragement we give our children to have a daily quiet time, must be because they want to have a growing relationship with Jesus – otherwise they do their Devotion Time, they read, think, respond out of obedience to us – and they miss the point.  The point is – Jesus!

When parents ask me about teaching their kids how to have a quiet time there is a balance between the art and the science.

The science – the how to – is tied up with these three skills: reading, thinking, responding.  But the art that is our kids’ desire to have a growing relationship with Jesus.  We cannot focus on the how to without firmly establishing the why. Our children must want a relationship with Jesus before we encourage them to have a devotional time on their own.  Otherwise we lean into legalism and we push them into mindlessly reading the Bible because they don’t want to be there.  

What we do in the mean time though is to establish family lifestyle of reading God’s word, thinking and applying it to our every day life, and responding in prayer.  If your child doesn’t want a personal devotional time – then make sure you have family devotional time.   

What you are doing by having a consistent family devotional time is:

  • Establishing God’s word as important in your family lifestyle
  • Introducing your children to God and His ways
  • Teaching them the skills (as we’ve talked about today) so that they can engae with God’s word when they want to.
  • Modelling the Christian disciplines of reading and praying

Heart-focused Action Step

A few things to think about when it comes to your kids having daily devotions

  1.  Are your children already having personal daily devotions?  If yes, are they meaningful and helping them know Jesus more and grow to be more like Him?  If they are not having devotions? Are they ready to and how can you help them?
  2. Are you giving your children an example – do they see you read, think, apply, and respond?  
  3. Do you need to establish a family devotional habit?  

Let me just finish by saying there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to daily devotional times.  You and I will connect and respond to God in different ways and at different times of the day.  It will be the same for our kids.

One of the big lessons I learnt heading into the teen years is Joshua said to me – Don’t expect my devotions to look like your devotion.  My walk with God is different than you.  He was so right – and it is a good caution for all parents to hear. 

Our kids’ walk with Jesus will be different than our walk with Jesus. We need to give them the understanding and the tools, and nurture their desire but it is still going to be different.

I encourage you to pray and ask God to show you where each of your children are at in their faith journey, in their relationship with Jesus.  Then ask him what next.  

He will help you see your child’s heart. And what they need.

Don’t forget your Devotion Kit Download

As I mentioned it right at the beginning – I do have a  Heart Booster for you to download this week.   It is a bundle of 5 different prompts that we can use in our daily devotions as we learn to respond to God.  I used these prompts growing up, and I taught them to my kids – and I know they still use some of them today.    So go to the link, download, print them out, and use them, maybe one at a time, teaching your child how they can respond to God.  

Read more about this resource here

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