The ideal: Family devotions, children all sitting around very well-behaved, intently listening to Father share his wisdom and insight from God’s Word. Training up children just like Proverbs says, Norman Rockwell style.
Reality: The family barely ever is in the same house at the same time except for when everyone’s sleeping. Or if you are home and attempt to gather for family devotions, the children are figgity, rolling around on the floor, saying “he’s touching me” or the teenagers put up a fight to take the earbuds out of their ears, all the while saying, “This is lame” while giving a grand entrance eye-roll.
Been there, done that. Therefore, family devotions usually are NOT.
But a consistent time for families to gather is important.
I came across a resource from Annie Fox’s blog on family meetings. As a school counselor I highly recommend it. As a mom, I recommend it because a few years ago we began our own family devotional time after a suggestion we received from our vacation at Life Action Family Camp. Though our family gathering time is definitely NOT the ideal, we have persevered, and these are some reasons why.
#1. It’s important we hear God’s Word together at home rather than just at church. There’s something remarkable about hearing the reading of the Word of God that gives it validity and importance in a home when it’s honored together, even if it’s a small passage.
#2. It’s important we all gather together even for 5 minutes in a disconnected, fast-paced life for families with children in school. The ideal rarely happens for us, but being routinely together – whether it’s dinner time or devotional time, is important. Time outside of mealtime is unique, though. For a few minutes, we are connected and not distracted by food, TV, cell phones or internet. We talk, listen, and engage.
#3. It’s important all kids interact together, no matter the span between ages with parents. We have an 8-9 year span between our oldest and youngest. They never will be at the same stage in life. Opportunities to be together and interact with each other other than holidays and family vacations are important in building life-long bonds between siblings. We’ve seen this develop in our home, not exclusively from “family gathering time,” but it makes times when we do gather Not Quite So Awkward. Seriously.
#4. It’s important to pray together and for each other outside of dinner time. We’ve taken bold steps we wouldn’t otherwise have taken in our family’s walk if we did not have this time routinely set aside. We’ve had interventions of sorts with our family when there were issues needing to be dealt with rather than brushing them under the rug. We’ve prayed over our children, one by one, declaring God’s divine protection and blessing over their life. There is something powerful in a family praying blessing together over each and every one. Yes, we’ve done this, and we are probably weird. But when you realize your family is under attack from the enemy, it’s serious business. Been there, done that, and it’s been worth it.
#5. It allows time for laughter, tears, and bonding. Most of our family times have been the REALITY scenario. Lots of eye rolls, grumbling children, and mumbling under the breath. But just like a classroom full of complaining teenagers, you march on with the agenda because it’s important. They really do listen, even if you don’t think they do. As our older children are in process of leaving home, it’s been worthwhile to persevere through the eye rolls and complaints because our time together now is shrinking. It’s worth is if you can plow through the resistance.
Ideas for gathering time for families?
- Read a short passage of scripture with a short lesson from it.
- Sing a hymn, praise song, letting kids pick the song.
- Pray for each other – have everyone pray for the person on their left or right. It’s powerful to hear siblings who don’t get along pray for each other.
- Do some trivia.
- Pose a question: What was the highlight of your week? Where did you see God work this week? If you could ask mom or dad any question, what would it be? Be creative or simple.
- Make it short. If kids have homework or need to go to bed, then at least pray together.
If you have other ideas for what could be used for a family gathering time, I’d love to hear them! Or, if you have questions or other suggestions, list those, too! Our times are not Norman Rockwell quality, but they have been consistent. It’s been worth it.
Have a great week.
For those of you who prayed for the time I had speaking to moms and women this weekend, thank you! The Lord ministered to many hurting moms!