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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Parent's Guide to Family Devotions

: my faith
Quiet Time Connect
A Parent's Guide to Family Devotions
by Mike Calhoun, Sr Vice President - Word of Life Fellowship
from mtl magazine

Keeping family devotions fresh and exciting is easier said than done. I believe most parents really desire to influence their children spiritually but simply do not know how. If given a realistic plan, families can establish personal spiritual habits that can serve as a foundation for family devotions.
This process begins by helping every family member enhance his or her own personal walk with Christ. Talking about personal devotions when addressing family devotions may sound strange, but the two must be connected. Family devotions come alive when the parents and children can share how God is working in their lives individually.
A dynamic tool that can be used for both personal and family devotions is the Word of Life Quiet Time devotionals for all ages. Each day when individual family members have a personal quiet time, they are preparing for family devotions. They will all read from the same Bible passage; however, the number of verses will vary according to age. The parent's Quiet Time has additional commentary to aid them in understanding and discussing the passage. Word of Life also publishes Quiet Time Connect, A ParentÕs Guide to Family Devotions, which provides parents with insights and ideas.
"Prayer is a strategic aspect of family devotions."
Using the Quiet Time as a basis, here are some practical tips for family devotions:
Choose the best time of day for your family, realizing that every family is different and has unique schedules.
The ages of your children may determine if your devotions are in the morning or evening.
The lengths of time spent in family devotions will depend upon the ages of your children. You might consider the following times if you are new to family devotions:
Young Children — 5-10 minutes
Teens — 10-20 minutes
Strive to make your time together fun.
Begin by selecting two days a week for family devotions, and then add more days as you grow together.
Variety in your family time is important.
Prayer is a strategic aspect of family devotions. Creativity on the part of the parents will greatly increase the effectiveness of the family prayer time. I suggest that the parents do a little brainstorming for creative ideas relative to their family, but I have listed some ideas to get started:
Establish a prayer focus for each night, such as a family member, your church, friends or missions.
Pray for individual missionaries your family or church supports.
Focus on a particular family member and a personal prayer request.
Pray for the pastors and teachers in your church and schools.
Pray for unsaved friends and family.
Create a prayer bulletin board and post pictures of those for whom you are praying or handwritten requests from family members. (Make it portable for easy use.)
Get out of the house and take a prayer walk with the family — take turns praying as you walk.
If your children have cell phones, pray through the people in their phone contact list.
Have you ever been with a group of people and did not know how to start a conversation? This has happened to most of us at one time or another. One parent told me that his greatest fear was how to begin their family devotions. He confessed that he just did not know what to say. To help alleviate that fear, let me share some discussion starters to consider:
Use the two questions found in each day's Quiet Time:
What is the writer saying in today's passage?
How does this apply to my life?
If you have devotions in the morning, how can you apply this today?
If you have devotions in the evening, how did you apply this today?
Ask about the characters in the passage (if applicable).
Ask who is talking in the passage.
Ask who the writer is addressing in the passage.
Ask if the writer was happy or sad when he wrote this passage.
Ask what the family learned about God from this passage.
"With a little creativity, this can be an exciting time for families."
The perception is that family devotions are boring. Perhaps this is often true, but it does not have to be the norm. With a little creativity, this can be an exciting time for families. Once again, using variety in family devotions can prevent them from becoming stale. For those parents who do not feel creative, here are a few ways to create enthusiasm:
Draw a picture of the key thought in the passage (for younger children).
Make a mosaic from different objects to illustrate the passage.
Role-play the passage or key thought.
Make up a song to illustrate the passage.
Sing a song that goes with the passage.
Use a "game show" format for discussion.
Quiz each other about the passage.
Print the verses on cards or poster paper, and put them on the wall.
Write an encouraging card to someone, using a verse from the passage.
Using a verse from the passage, send an encouraging text message to someone, and tell them the message is from your whole family.
Watch a video together about the devotional topic.
Take a family walk or hike and discuss the passage.
Use props (such as homemade costumes).
Have a missionary in your home to share their ministry.
Put on a puppet show to illustrate the passage or truth.
If you or a family member is involved in an online community or blog, share some observations from your family time.
Getting our families into the Word of God and growing together spiritually should be one of our major goals. The Word of Life Quiet Time devotional for all ages provides the perfect materials for both individual and family worship.

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