“Supper’s Ready!” I loved hearing my Mom or Dad shout those words to us. Besides being hungry, dinner became a great highlight of our day because we were all together, enjoying a meal, listening to each other talk about school and friends. We laughed a lot and we bickered too, but inevitably after dinner, my father would direct our attention to listen to scripture being read…either by him or Mom and sometimes one of us kids would take a turn reading. We would talk about the verses or passage of scripture and my parents would help us to see an application that was relevant to our situation. They would explain the meaning of words, doctrine, theology and the bible stories were always full of adventure, intrigue and alive with God’s power and love for us. We would pray for each other and pray about anything and everything. Our family devotional time became a tradition. However, it wasn’t always easy to keep up with, due to schedule conflicts or the tyranny of urgent mingled with different attention spans. Nevertheless, my parents continued to persist. Even though we were very involved in our church programs and ministry, my parents took full responsibility to disciple us. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-21; Psalm 78:5; Proverbs 1:8-9; Ephesians 6:4) This spiritual legacy has been passed down from my parents to us and to our generations that follow.
Family worship and devotions became a rhythm with my husband and I when raising our children. It’s a beautiful thing to see God’s promises fulfilled in our next generation as we watch our grown children teach their very young children about Jesus.
The following are suggestions and simple steps for beginning to incorporate a tradition of family worship and devotions.
Step 1. Eat dinner with your entire family regularly.
Step 2. Mom and Dad sit next to one another to lead the family discussion.
Step 3. Open the meal by asking if there is anyone or anything to pray for.
Step 4. Someone opens in prayer and covers any requests. This task should be rotated among family members so that different people take turns learning to pray aloud.
Step 5. Start eating and discuss how everyone’s day went.
Step 6. Have a Bible in front of the parents in a translation that is age-appropriate for the kids’ reading level. Have someone (parent or child) open the Bible, and assign a portion to read aloud while everyone is eating and listening.
Step 7. Parents should note key words and themes in the passage and explain them to the kids on an age-appropriate level.
Step 8. Ask questions about the passage. You may want to begin with having your children summarize what was read—retelling the story or passage outline. Then, ask the following questions: What does this passage teach us about God? What does it say about us or about how God sees us? What does it teach us about our relationships with others?
Step 9. Let the conversation happen naturally, listen carefully to the kids, let them answer the questions, and fill in whatever they miss or lovingly and gently correct whatever they get wrong so as to help them.
Step 10. If the Scriptures convict you of sin, repent as you need to your family, and share appropriately honest parts of your life story so the kids can see Jesus’ work in your life and your need for him too. This demonstrates gospel humility to them.
Step 11. At the end of dinner, ask the kids if they have any questions for you.
Step 12. If you miss a night, or if conversation gets off track, or if your family occasionally just wants to talk about something else, don’t stress—it’s inevitable.
For your children, the point is to learn what they are thinking about God, to help them know and love Jesus as God and Savior, and to teach them how to articulate and explain their Christian faith. For parents, the point is to lovingly instruct children and each other—thereby creating a family culture in which every member freely and naturally talks about God and prays to him together. In short, the goal is simply that your family would open the Bible and grow in love for Jesus, one another, your church, and the world.
Finally, remember that family Bible study requires a sense of humor, so make sure to have some fun, enjoy some laughs, and build some memories. Discussing the Scriptures is a wonderful way to see into the heart of your children, and to reveal your heart for them and Jesus’ heart for you all.