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D.E.V.O.T.E. {Simple Steps for Family Devotions}

“I hate trying to have devotions with my family,” the young mom confided with tears in her eyes.

I was stunned by the emotion behind this well-intentioned parent’s words. She explained that every time she tried to gather her young family for devotions, her children grew restless and cried and her husband took off to do some “urgent” task. After giving her a comforting hug, I told this frustrated mom to look for the key steps to successful devotions hidden in the word devote.

Daily-life Based
Children like devotions that relate to them. If you have young children, look for devotions that stress God’s love and care in the real experiences of childhood, from losing a tooth to being afraid of the dark. Substitute the name of your child or neighborhood friends for those suggested in the devotion.

End when appropriate
Devotions for preschoolers may be two minutes long. There is no magic length for a good devotion. Any amount of time invested in your spiritual walk is good time.

Vary the Format
Many devotions follow the format of a Scripture reading, related comments, and a prayer. Devotions meaningful for your family will take many forms. On some days, you may want to simply share why a Bible verse has meaning for you. On other occasions you may discuss an important event in your lives and pray about it.

Obstacles—Remove Them
One roadblock to regular devotions is the refrain, “I can’t find the book!” Keep devotional materials handy. Access content on your phone or place your Bible and devotional material in a napkin holder on the kitchen table. You might keep a small cross and a flameless candle with your materials. The simple act of turning on a candle delight children and help them look forward to devotion time. If you share a nighttime devotion with your child, keep the materials by the bed.

Expectations Should Be Realistic
Don’t feel guilty if you miss a day. Family schedules get hectic. A quick hug and the words, “Jesus loves you and so do I” share God’s love with a toddler as effectively as a long devotion. Match your devotion time to the attention span and developmental level of your child. Look at your devotional material through the eyes of your child and ask “How will this devotion help her grow with Jesus?” After all, that’s what matters.

No matter how well you plan, devotional time won’t always go smoothly. But the same Jesus who loved you enough to give His life for you promises to bless your family’s little visits with Him.

This article originally appeared in Good News for Families.

An award-winning educator, Dr. Mary Manz Simon is a practical parenting specialist and best-selling author whose writing has impacted the lives of countless children and families around the world.

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