I was so excited! The new devotional I ordered from Amazon had arrived, and I couldn’t wait to sit down with the boys before bed and read it to them. After they got their jammies on, I gathered them in the living room and began to read. While I was reading, son #3 jumped on the back of son #1 and a wrestling match ensued. I calmed them down and began to read again. Then son #2 interrupted because he was thirsty. I insisted that he wait, and he began to pout and wilted like my neglected house plants. Just as I began to read again, son #3 kicked son #2 and they began fighting. By the time I got the fight contained, the #1 had scattered, and my attempt to share Jesus with my sons in that moment was gone.
Do your attempts at family devotions sometimes resemble ours?
We all know introducing your children to God is important, but so often our good intentions end in tears and frustration. We also know expecting our churches and Bible class teachers to do the job for us will not guarantee our children will grow up to follow God. A life with Christ is not built on just learning the books of the Bible and facts, but is built from a growing relationship.
So just how do we share that relationship with our kids without the tears and frustration?
Now most days our devotional time goes a little smoother. I’ve learned from books like The Life-Giving Table and my own study of John that Jesus met people’s needs before he expected them to listen. Consider the story of the last supper in John 13-17. Jesus had a lot of important information to relay to his disciples during their last time together before the cross, but instead of just jumping right into all he had to say, Jesus took the time to meet their needs. He fed them, ate with them, and even washed their feet. When he lived his message in this way, it opened their heart to hear the message he spoke.
As mothers we can do the same. We can live the message we want them to hear. For my sons I find the best setting for a devotional is around the table. Whether it is breakfast, tea time, snack time, or dinner, they are better prepared to listen when I have met their physical needs first.
Another need children have is to interact with what they are learning in a variety of ways. It’s great to sit your kids down and read them a Bible story. I’ve tried that for years. However, when we get them fully involved, it helps keep their attention, and the lessons are much more likely to be remembered.
That’s why I really love Christie Thomas’ Bible study resources for families. In them she gives ideas for not just reading the text but really interacting with it. Here are three of my favorites:
- Wise for Salvation* is a devotional book for ages 1-6. It’s not just a Bible storybook, though it does have many, many Bible stories in it. Instead, it looks at a single Bible story for five days and allows your kids to interact with that story in a variety of ways. For example, to teach them about day 1 of creation, Christie suggests on Day 1 of the study to go into a dark room and turn off the light. Then say, “Let there be light!” and flip on the light. My three-year-old loved this! Weeks later he still asks to do the “light story.” Each week has similar activities. Acting the story out, asking age appropriate questions, building, and playing are all different ways to meet your kids’ needs to not just listen but to do and play. This devotional is appropriate for younger kids, but older kids might enjoy some of the acting out ideas and questions, too. Get your copy here!
- Made to Pray is a good look at prayer for ages 6-adult. It is a 10-day study that gives you 10 different ideas or ways to pray. At the end of each day, the study gives ideas for praying alone or with your kids. Love! Visit Christie’s Website here for your copy!
- 40 Days with Jesus is a study of the book of Mark for all ages. You can purchase just the study guide with Bible readings for older and younger kids, an introduction to Mark, resources, and a printable list of ways to interact with Scripture. The printable list is one of my favorites things created by Christie. It gives ideas like the ones she uses in Wise for Salvation, but it is easy to print out and keep with your Bible to use for other studies. Get yours here! The 40 Days with Jesus Full Devotional Guide gives you questions to ponder and a devotional thought from Christie for each day’s reading. Check it out here!
Try some of these ideas today! Whether you meet around the table or in the living room floor with a special snack, think of ways you can meet your family’s physical needs before trying to meet their spiritual needs. And if you’re looking for good devotionals that not only give your children facts but that also engage their hearts, check out Christie’s book Wise for Salvation or her ebooks Made to Pray, 40 Days with Jesus, and 40 Days with Jesus Full Devotional. I know your family will be blessed!
*I was given Wise for Salvation as a review copy. All the opinions here are my own and my 3-year-old son really loves this book. The others I purchased on my own and have really enjoyed. I share them all with you in hopes that your family will enjoy them as much as mine has!