Family Devotionals

If you are wanting to start a family devotional time, here are some tips* and suggestions to make it successful.

Age-appropriate devotional times

If you are also caught in the stop-and-start challenge of engaging your children with family devotions, consider trying these age-appropriate options.

Ages 2 to 3

Stick with Bible picture storybooks until they stop holding their attention. What can I say — they work at this age. And likely your kids will want to hear the same story over and over.
When you read a Bible story to your kids, start out by telling them this is a true story that it really happened. At a young age, we want them to know that Bible stories are true happenings. Also be sure the illustrated story you read is accurate. Sometimes Bible picture storybooks sugarcoat the truth — and when kids get older, they learn the kid-version you read them wasn’t quite honest. That doesn’t make it easy to convince them that the Bible is completely true.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Voss

Ages 4 to 6

Though Bible picture storybooks may still work, your days with them are numbered. When the kids get antsy and bored with the books, move into more active family devotions.
Rob Currie, professor of psychology at Judson University, puts it this way: “Kids this age have lots of energy and want to move. Parents should incorporate movement in any way they can. They [kids] have vivid imaginations, so after the Bible story, have them act out part of the story. They’ll love being baby Moses hiding from Pharaoh or David battling Goliath. If your kids have artistic talent, have them draw a scene from the Bible story.”
Another idea is to use nature to teach kids about our great God and Creator. Simply taking a walk outside and asking questions is a good start. “Do you know who made this tree?” “Can you guess who made the sun?” Simple object lessons are effective at this stage as well. Whole books of these types are available, and you can adapt them to teach age-appropriate spiritual truths.

Line Upon Line (Volume 1) and Line Upon Line (Volume 2) by F. L. Mortimer
(This is perfect for that age gap between picture-book Bible story books and older children, around 1st or 2nd grade. The stories are written in accessible language, but they are also full of biblical language and really point kids to the Bible.)

Ages 6 to 12

Object lessons, activities and visuals work great. Start family devotions with something active to hold the kids’ attention. When you follow that with a nugget of spiritual truth and Scripture, the activity and truth become etched together in their minds.

Family Worship Bible Guide by Joel Beeke
(This has family worship discussion questions for every chapter of the Bible, so it’s great for families who are simply reading the Bible together and want to extend the time with some discussion or reflection. This is good for elementary and older.)
One Year of Dinner Table Devotions and Discussion Starters by Nancy Guthrie

Three tips to help you succeed

Set a reasonable goal

Once a week do something active to teach a spiritual truth. The kids will have fun — and their enthusiasm will fuel you to keep going.

Keep the tie-in time short

Great family devotions get one nugget of truth across after the activity. One. This shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Your kids won’t have time to get bored — and will remember the application. This will fire you up to prepare the next lesson.

With multiple age groups, focus on the older kids

If you bring the level of your devotions down to your youngest, your oldest will think family devotions are only for younger kids. They’ll check out, and you may not get them back for the balance of that devotion — or for future ones. Remember, you’ve got less years to impact your older kids, and likely they’re closer to the bigger dangers. As long as you keep the older kids actively engaged, you’ll find leading family devotions makes a difference, even with your younger kids, and you won’t be tempted to quit.