Each evening after dinner, our whole family would clear the dishes and gather again at the table for family devotions. This one particular time after clearing the plates, Mom said everyone should go out to the garbage cans in the alley behind our house. So all of us kids trekked outside wondering what was going on. She brought a candle along and placed it on top of our heavy metal garbage can lid. We said our usual opening devotional words, “Holy Spirit, enter in and in our hearts Thy work begin,” while Dad added a flame to the wick. We talked about how our sins are like garbage. Just like we take our garbage out to the waste cans, we offer up our sins to Jesus to take them away for His sake. The garbage man comes and takes our trash away just like Jesus comes and takes our trashy old sins away. There was Scripture read, conversation, and a prayer at the end. Wow! That impressed us so much that we still talk about that to this day! Mom and Dad were very creative and came up with many marvelous devotions that we still reflect upon. Those impressive life-changing moments fed us then, still continue to nurture us to this day, and were great examples for us to do with our children.
Not all parents feel creative enough to come up with something new and visual for devotions with their children each day like my parents were gifted to do. And there are certain times of the year when it seems more natural for family devotions, like Advent with its wreath and Advent calendars and the like. But family devotions are a great blessing when they become a natural part of the everyday family life.
God has given children to be raised in the faith by parents. Deuteronomy 6:5–9 tells us, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Another translation uses the words “impress them on your children” instead of “teach them diligently.” I like that word impress. We can teach, but how do we impress or amaze and make a lasting effect? One way parents can do that is through family devotions. It is a daily devoted time to focus on God and grow together in faith through His Word. We need daily bread—both physical and spiritual. It is a great privilege for parents to care for their God-given children in this way.
God is very kind as He leads and provides for parents. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” God has provided authors who partner with parents. They create resources for moms and dads to use with their children for their family devotions throughout the whole year! Concordia Publishing House has offered many devotional guides for parents to use. One new such resource is Portals of Prayer for Kids. This impressive book of short devotions—one for each day of the year including special days—packs a powerful punch. Parents can even provide a notebook for their children to journal along as each devotional provides ideas. This fun and interactive activity will help connect the children to God’s message for the day and add to their spiritual memory bank for a lasting impression.
I like to think about family devotions as thumbprint cookies and how we use our thumb to indent on each cookie and fill the space with something sweet. Then we bake them and they stay imprinted! Yummy! We impress God’s ways on our children and fill that space with His sweet words. As children grow, that impression stays with them and makes them who they are . . . wonderful treats to the world—Christians!
Take time to love God with all your heart by being in His Word while you teach and impress His commands on your children!