Family devotions are notorious for giving migraines to parents and causing children to groan. Formal family devotions at home can range from breakfast Scripture readings, bedtime prayers, or even “sermonettes for Christianettes from the dinette.” But even these can come across as irreverently artificial, canned, and hokey, further creating a gap between church and home. Christian parents realize the value of time at home spent with God — but how do we do it? Family faith-building need not always be structured to be effective. Whether the setting is formal or impromptu, the purpose is a conscious effort to strengthen communication, to experience communion, and to build community.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 suggests the best way to meet these goals. Moses says that “these commandments…are to be upon your hearts.” We are told to “impress them on [our]children.” How? By talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” WOW! Here’s movement; crafts (gee, we should even write on our doorframes — get out those stencils!); conversation; and creative, hands-on teaching at its best — all to be done with our children.
Activities that are natural yet directed, routine yet imaginative, personal yet spiritual, nurture faith at home. A spiritual home will produce a spiritual child who matures into a spiritual adult. Here are specific activities to help parents build their children’s faith at home.
- Worship Preparation — Prepare for formal “at church” worship before you leave home. Wake up earlier than your
kids so you’re not rushed. My mom diffused the Sunday-morning-rush stress by waking us up to the soft sounds of Christian music. Music sets an emotional tone wherever it’s heard. It worked for King Saul, and it worked in our madhouse also.
- Prayer— Have you ever passed by someone broken down on the side of the road but you just couldn’t stop? Why
not pray aloud for that person? Or when you spot an ambulance or squad car speeding to the scene of a problem, pray for the people involved, their safety, and their relationship with God. You’ll find that children fight over who gets to pray. Another time for prayer is just before kids run off to school. My wife commits our children to the Lord and challenges them to stand up for the things that are right and against the things that are wrong.