A Step-by-Step Guide
Many parents find the Christian parenting journey challenging. Trying to be a role model while deepening our own relationship with God can be difficult. But one of the ways to do so is spend time with God together as a family.
Doing devotion together will enable parents and children to have intentional conversations about God and His Word. Faith is built through these interactions and parents can better understand their children’s spiritual condition and well-being..
Every family is different and what works for one family may not work for another. Here’s a suggested structure for facilitating family devotion. Do adapt according to your family dynamics and needs:
As a start, we would suggest once a week. As you go along, gradually increase the frequency to a rhythm that is comfortable for the family.
The best time for family devotion is when the family is able to gather together, without having to rush for work or studies or the next appointment. This relaxed environment will encourage conversations to go to a deeper level. For some families, this could mean Friday evenings or weekends. For others, it could be weekday nights.
It is good to set a fixed time and day of the week so that parents and children can set the time, establish a routine, and look forward to it. However, there is no hard and fast rule about adjustments, especially during festivities, school holidays and vacations.
The recommendation is to start with 20-30 minutes per session, and allow the conversations to carry on until it ends naturally. Typically, the family devotion time would take under an hour.
Take one step at a time. Spending time in personal devotion will help you extend it to your family. Preparation ahead of time will increase your familiarity with the context, bible passages and questions.
Most importantly, remember to see this as an opportunity to learn more about God together with your children, rather than a bible study session to teach your children. Exploring difficult topics together will strengthen your relationship with each other and with God.
Furthermore, do ask questions and get support from other parents by joining our Facebook group, “Our Daily Bread Ministries Malaysia for Families” which we set up specially to build a learning, growing and supportive community.
Ideally, the time together during family devotion would start with singing hymns or praise songs as this will help everyone focus their hearts and minds on God. If the family is musically-inclined, accompaniment of guitar or piano is good. You can also prepare YouTube videos, hymnals or song sheets.
Prayer is an essential part of family devotion. Starting with prayer sets the devotion time apart and goes beyond bonding time as we invite God into our families. When we end our family devotion with a prayer, we are also asking for God’s will to be done in our lives as we seek Him as a family. We have prepared some prayer resources for you. As you grow deeper in your walk with God, you will find it easier to talk to Him personally, and to lead others in prayer.
We suggest that parents lead the time so that children can be guided as they observe and participate. This could be the father or the mother, or jointly, depending on who is more comfortable doing it. As the children get older and more mature, they may be encouraged to lead some sections.
It is highly encouraged to gather the children together regardless of age and gender. While on some days, parents may want to spend special time with each child for prayer and Bible reading, the family devotion is meant for each child to learn from each other and their parents. Parents may need to paraphrase or explain certain context, Bible passages or questions to make it understandable for younger children, but let us not underestimate their abilities to comprehend.