Daily Bible Devotion
Daily Bible Devotion is a part of our family life. It is a habit that both Peter and I formed in our youth and it is one that we desire for our children. We want for our children to know God personally, to build a strong relationship with Him, to know His Word and to live by it.
Find your way around this pageWhat is Daily Bible Devotion?Our Role as ParentTrain EarlyGive your child the skillsHow to RespondChildren on their ownIt becomes a boreChoosing resourcesDiscipleship
In order for any relationship to be strong we know we must treasure it. 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.
The dictionary defines “Devotion” as
- Profound dedication
- Earnest attachment to a person
- An assignment or appropriation to any purpose
- Often “devotions” is used as a religious observance or worship; a form of prayer or worship.
All these definitions apply to our Daily Bible Devotion:
- We are dedicated to building a relationship with God
- We are attached to God and His Word
- We assign or give of our time to our relationship
- Our time together is one of worship, one of prayer
In one sense we can do nothing to ensure our children’s salvation – that is a work of the Holy Spirit. We can do nothing to change our children’s hearts but we can nurture and prepare the soil of their hearts.
We know we have been given the task to
- raise up our children in the paths that they are to go
- we are to tell our children of the good things God has done
- we are to talk constantly of His ways
There are many words to parents in the Bible along these thoughts.
And, ye Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
One of the surest ways to provoke our children to wrath is to be two-faced. Our children see hypocrisy very quickly. Therefore if we want our children to love the Word of God, to pursue the things of God we must be doing so, truthfully, ourselves.
This is the number one thing we can do for our children – we must be walking the talk. We must be living our lives according to what we believe. Keeping in mind the thought that it is all a work of God.
Life is more caught than taught
At times I have wondered about my own personal daily devotions – just like many other mums – we struggle to fit in that private time. So now, with my children older and the privilege of more time to myself, I can look back and see that the things that I did do for my own daily devotion have actually had an impact on my children.
I have always had my devotions in the middle of the house, at the dining room table. My kids could see me. Though this meant that I didn’t always get that private time that I sometimes yearned for though it did mean that the children saw me reading, studying, and praying. The negative side of this is that there were interruptions.
Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful, later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
So instead of seeing those interruptions as inconveniences they were moments of training the child to respect my time with God. It was a discipline on the child and it was a discipline on myself to train the child. This started from a very young age and by preschool age they were sitting doing quiet things until it was their own time with God (with Mummy or Daddy). Nowadays we have a family rule that it is all quiet till 7.00am. This is when everyone has the opportunity for his or her own daily Bible Devotion. After that time, music goes on, chores happen, breakfast starts and if you are not finished with God, you have the freedom to continue in amongst the noise or to move to a quiet place.
When I have my devotions I
These are the skills I want for my children, along with the daily habit of putting aside time for the Word of God and prayer.
- Initially I spend time with my child, sitting on the couch together reading Bible stories. We generally read one story a day. I ask the child to narrate the story back to me. Sometimes I need to read it again so they feel comfortable with this. There are no rules – this is all about your child’s relationship with God.
- I may ask a question which would lead into a short discussion on applying the word to the child’s life. I would then either summarise their thoughts or ask for a dictation so these points could be recorded in their Devotion Journal.
- We then close in prayer.
You will find a trend in our family to respond to things in writing. This is our family way. This is not the
way; this is why I write about Responding, rather than Writing. Your response to Him can be with Music, with Song, with Dance, with Prayer, with Thought, with Art, with action. Though I do encourage at least a little writing (when appropriate to their skill development for writing) my real encouragement is to just Respond
God does not set out requirements for a Devotion Journal! The reason I like the Devotion Journal is as a record of our thoughts and prayers, a record of what God has put in our heart.
- Writing these things down
- Keep our focus
- Fine tune our thinking, making things clearer
- Cement our thoughts in our hearts
A Devotion Journal is not the height of spiritualness 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 so our ultimate response to God needs to be a changed life.
As the children grow older and mature in their own walk with God I am needed less and less. I have found once the children become independent readers it is not long before they want to do their devotions by themselves. Our children receive their first Bible at about this time too with an encouragement to let it be a light to their path.
I continue to encourage my children to use the skills that we developed earlier on
Read / Think / Respond
In the beginning of this stage we choose a reading direction together; this maybe a reading programme to read through the Bible or a book of the Bible or it maybe a devotional book. Later on they come to these decisions by themselves and ask for help if they need it.
To encourage them in their thinking we have at times given them a little list to help them focus
- Is there a command to follow?
- Is there a promise to hold onto?
- Is there a principle to live by?
Depending on their age or how they would handle this list I may well translate these questions into something at their level. For example:
- Does God’s Word tell you to do something?
What are you going to do about that?
- Does God promise you something?
Do you have to do something first?
Do you believe that promise?
We encourage our children to continue with their Devotional Journal. This hasn’t been easy for some – others have thrived on it. While they are getting comfortable with this form of communication (with themselves and with God) we encourage them
- To write answers to the above questions
- To do copywork – copy out either a scripture to memorise or a passage that
spoke to them
- To write out a narration – retell the story or the word they read in their own words
- To write out their prayer, or a list of prayer concerns and answers
Reading the Bible without meditating on it is like
trying to eat without swallowing.
As anyone knows who has practiced daily devotions themselves there are times that things get dry - kids will see this as boring and what is the point. At times like this you wonder if God is really listening, you feel like you’ve read it all before and nothing comes to you as fresh. This is a great opportunity to take your child back under your wing and spend some one on one time with them during their daily devotion time.
If our attitude is one of pushing them through to maturity then we may well show disappointment and frustration that they are feeling like this. This 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 have prayed with the child and certainly prayed ourselves for wisdom. We have 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 children. 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 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.
There is so much on the market to help our children. But I offer some caution.
- We want our children to treasure the Word of God. We can encourage this by encouraging their reading of the Word. I believe devotional books are helpful but not to replace the reading of the Word.
- Choose resources that are at your children’s level. There is no holiness in being
advanced. This is not school. If your child struggles to read, give them a Children’s Bible story book as their Devotional. If your child struggles to think sit beside them for a few more months.
- Choose resources that are where your child is at, meeting their needs right now. What is it that they really need right now? Do they need the Bible stories? Do they need to be comfortable reading a real Bible? Do they need to be thinking more not just skimming? Do they need encouragement in heart faith not head knowledge? Do they need to be encouraged in memorising scripture – taking it to heart, or applying what they have learnt? Choose a resource and direction for your children that match their needs, not a predetermined pathway set out by friends, church, or publishers.
- Consider your goals in choosing a resource.
- Many Devotion books, especially those written for pre-teen and teens, are written for kids who are faced with issues of the world daily. Their peers are making unwise choices and Christian young kids are being challenged in areas of fashion, boy/girls, drugs, heroes etc. If these challenges are not in your child’s face on an everyday level, you may want to consider if you want them introduced to these things via a devotional reading. We have chosen to avoid these types of devotionals and rather focus on ones that build a heart response to God regardless of situations. We deal with the above-mentioned issues together in our family time.
We can have some excitement as parents when our children practice the daily habit of meeting with God, when they take ownership of their walk with God. (Read more in Digging your own wells) The skills of reading, thinking and responding are established. The diligence to continue even when God seems far away has been worked on. Though we must remember that you don’t just
this training off as done. It is a discipline that we commit to for the rest of our life.
Encouraging your children to have their own personal devotion time is in no way diminishing your influence in their life. I still see our children as our Disciples – they still need to be mentored – to be held accountable and to be encouraged on to greater things in God. This though, now comes from a relationship, strengthened by our mutual love of God. It is at this point that the children live as members of the Body, one in Christ.
This is a challenging thought to parents
- Can I relate to my children as Christians?
- Can I share my spiritual journey with them as I fellowship with them?
- Can I receive a spiritual challenge from them as I would any other member of the body?
- Can I let someone else have spiritual input into his or her lives?
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