How we do morning family devotionals
So fitting in weekday family devotional time before we start the day can be tricky... When my children were younger and at the same primary school, I could organise the children's time more efficiently so when we sat down to breakfast, we could read and discuss a set text devotional, as we all left the house at the same time. We would follow different texts, age dependant and we could pray for each other in the car on the way to school, if things overran . Now they are older, the timings are different and they need to learn to take responsibility for their own relationship with God...
Our family devotionals rarely included my husband, as he leaves the house before anyone else has woken or he is working away. His schedule is not consistent, so that leaves it to me to organise and do. We both want our children to learn who God is and what it is to be a follower of Christ (Christian). We want them to have a consistent time with God but my husbands job means he is not the one to do this each morning. He's more than happy for me to lead and do this.
How it looks in our house now...
Our eldest is not a morning person and has to leave for his transport first. I do not pressure him to be part of the morning weekday family devotional. This is because he is older, 15, and he has to learn to take responsibility for his own faith. We encourage him and we have bought him short devotionals that he can read to himself in the taxi journey etc. As we have been doing this since he was young, he should hopefully know why we value this time and why we encourage it. We can lead him to the water, but he has to drink it... Its not easy and I would like to micro manage him but as children grow, we have to let them and teach them, to manage their own lives.
Our second child is home educated and he starts the day the same time as the rest of us (7am) so that he is already to start school, when I come back from the school run. This means he has time to do the family devotional with his brothers. Our third and fourth children both attend the same school and we have to all be ready to leave the house for 8.15am.
The children have their routines to follow and we are approximately ready around 745-8 to sit down for breakfast. Whilst they are eating, we do the family devotional time. We keep it simple, the point is to start the day with God, remembering who He is. The point of the devotional is not to get angry because someone isn't listening/paying attention. I would love to have their complete focus, as much as I image the preacher does on Sundays but he does not publicly scorn us for our mind wandering off - we live under grace, so I give them grace too.
If they are distracting others, then this is a discipline issue. In our house, its not acceptable to distract others around you when talking about/to God. We have done training on how we listen to each other, so they know what is expected from them. The consequence is that it takes longer and where we typically would be finished around 8am and they have 15 mins free time - they would loose this. They will learn it is their own time they are wasting, if they do not listen to each other. I have to say, we've been doing this since they were young, so they know what is expected of them during this time and we rarely get to consequence stage. This is because they thoroughly tested this out when they were younger.
As I have said in previous posts, children need to know what is expected of them first. We did this by holding mini training sessions - we call them our family values. I will post more about them later.
This week we are doing a Q&A on our Christian faith. We can get caught up in bible teachings that I think its good to ask my children what they actually believe and think about God, Creation, Sin and Salvation. I do think devotional studies are good and we use them but every now and then I like to ask them these faith questions to see how they are connecting up the dots for themselves. So far this week we have discussed - does God have a beginning or end? and also phrased it - what was there before God? Along with what is God? what is the bible? who wrote the bible? and where in the bible we can find out the answers to these questions for ourselves.
We tend not to do evening devotionals as a family, as with different groups/home times/commitments - I'm too shattered to do this. When we put the children to bed, we read bible stories to them and prayed with them. When they are older and therefore going to bed independently - it is down to them to pray. We have modelled it to them, to seek God and pray whilst they were younger. We can prompt them and encourage them but they have to want this. I do not want to encourage them to pursue an empty relationship or lip service with God. It can be hard to let go but its important for them.
I do ask everyone about their day, which can follow up from this mornings prayers - accountability, prayer requests or just affirms them that I'm interested in them and want to know more about them.
Personally, I like to do my bible reading at the end of the day, it relaxes my mind before I go to sleep. I can pray, listen to worship music throughout the day. We do have a worship CD in the car which is great for grumpy school runs...
So How do you, do yours?