It goes like this….
You get inspired to have more meaningful family times, including family devotions. So, you call all your kids to the living room and hand Daddy the Bible. He starts at the beginning or picks some random spot. The New Testament is good place to start, right? He starts reading, the kids start squirming. And whining. And someone needs a drink of water. And someone has to go potty. And someone is just full of questions! “Dad, what’s fornication mean?” He just reads faster. Forget it, let’s just pray. Who wants to go first? For the first time since you started this, everyone falls silent. OK, fine, you, The Mom will pray. Well, you’re in the middle of changing a diaper. OK, someone else can pray….the three old is game. And so you all thank the Lord for cereal and sloths and grandma and ask the Lord for new Legos. You call it a night. You say you’ll try again tomorrow. Then about two weeks goes by.
Come on now! We are not the only ones!
You can find lots on instructions on how to do family devotions. There are lots of pages and books and speakers that will tell you all the how-to’s. The thing is, no two families are alike. What works for one family may not work for another. There is no one right away and a thousand great ways to have family worship. The point is to do it. The how of that is completely up to you! And it may change and grow and develop as you develop as a family in your faith.
Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9
1. Rather make one big, elaborate time for family Bible study and prayer, we recommend working your faith in throughout the day, in small, doable bite-sized moments. We find that times when the family is already together work the best–such as meals, rides in the car, bedtime, etc.
2. Daddy can lead family devotions. Mommy can lead family devotions. The kids can lead family devotions. Give everyone a chance to share and don’t place the full weight of getting it done on one person’s shoulders.
3. Don’t get locked into rigid standards. Sometimes it will be short, sometimes long. Sometimes deep, sometimes lighthearted. Go with the flow.
IDEAS FOR YOUR DOMESTIC CHURCH
- Before you eat a meal together, sing a hymn or praise song. Let the kids take turns choosing. We have several hymn books and use them regularly.
- Memorize a passage of Scripture together as a family. (We’ve had some great success using Seeds of Courage music CD’s as a way to make memorizing easy and fun for the whole family!)
- After dinner read a portion of Scripture. Just a bit–like a few verses from Proverbs or one Psalm. Afterwards ask each person to say one thing that stood out to them.
- Use the daily Mass readings as a guide for what to read each day. Even our non-Catholic readers can use this! Those from non-liturgical traditions may not realize that if you follow the daily readings you will have pretty much covered the whole Bible in three years. A good way to do this with young children is to break it up and do the first and second reading at breakfast, the Psalm at lunch, and the Gospel reading at dinner. (You can find them here at EWTN Daily Readings.)
- Memorize prayers you can pray together as a family such as The Lord’s Prayer or The Prayer Before The Crucifix.
- For children who are too young to read, put together a prayer picture book. This can be a photo album. They can go through this and pray for each image. Include family members, your church and pastor, your neighborhood, a map of the US, a map of the world, picture of an unborn baby, etc.
- Giving children something tangible is a great way to help them connect truths with their every day lives. For example, on the day we pray for the Persecuted Church, we tie a rope to our wrists, reading the children Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those in bounds as if bound with them.” (See the picture above!)
- Use your time in the car to listen to teaching CD’s, sing worship songs or pray for special prayer requests.
- We’ve written a book that we use every Spring. Radiant! Inside and Out! It’s a Spring Cleaning book–for heart and home. Again using practical things to connect the prophetic applications of the spiritual life! This little book is packed full of truth and beauty for your child’s heart! And your house will be cleaner when you are done too. Win-win!
- Before you drop your kids off at dance/martial arts/school, etc. take a moment and pray for them and bless them.
- Before they go to bed bless them. Numbers 6:24-26 works really well. (This book, The Blessing, is a great place to learn more about and be inspired about speaking blessings to your children! We highly recommend it!)
- Fast as a family. Let the whole family pray together and decide together what they will fast, such as go without dessert for a week or instead of going to the movies, use that money for charity. The possibilities are endless.
- Pick a prayer target and be spiritual missionaries! We love this book about Praying through the 100 Gateway Cities of the 10/40 Window !
- Keep your churches missionaries and staff pictures in a book or on a bulletin board. Pick one each day and pray for them. Breakfast is a great time to do this.
- Observe Biblical Feasts together. We have seen this bring our family together around the Word in such a unique and beautiful way. (Lots of resources here.)
- Observe a day of rest. A true Sabbath. A Shabbat Meal is a lovely tradition that sets a perfect tone and encourages our rest in Him.
- Make a game out of Bible Trivia. You could even offer prizes! (See Kristina’s Bible Challenge here.)
- Let your children see you have prayer time. Of course we all like to get away by ourselves for quiet time and prayer (like early in the morning or after they go to bed at night), but make sure that there are times your kids see you reading your Bible, on your knees in prayer, journaling, weeping, etc. There is a lot that is caught, rather than taught.
- Need to get some wiggles out? Take the kids out for a prayer walk. As you walk the neighborhood pray for your neighbors and your community.
- Dance regularly! Turn on your favorite worship music and dance before the Lord. After all, David danced before the Lord and God said in regard to David, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22)
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It goes like this…. You get inspired to have more meaningful family times, including family devotions. So, you call all your kids to the living room and hand Daddy the Bible. He starts at the beginning or picks some random spot. The New Testament is good place to start, right? He starts reading, the kids […]