In the church we talk a lot about personal devotion or having a “quiet time” with the Lord. But we hear much less — if anything at all — about family devotions, or “family altar” as it used to be called. The family is the first institution that God created, and if our families are not united in communion with God, we cannot hope to have strong churches or strong communities.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Happy is the household which meets every morning for prayer! Happy are they who let not the evening depart without uniting in supplication! I wish it were more common — I wish it were universal with all believers — to have family prayer! We sometimes hear of the children of Christian parents who do not grow up in the fear of God and we are asked how it is that they turn out so badly. In many cases, I fear there is such a neglect of family worship that it is not probable that the children are at all impressed by any piety supposed to be possessed by their parents.”
Parents cannot expect their children to grow strong spiritually if they only spend time in spiritual matters on Sunday mornings. Just as we need to eat every day for physical strength, we must spend time in prayer and in the Bible for spiritual strength.
So, what is involved in family devotions?
1. Prayer. The family that prays together stays together. Instead of arguing and harboring resentment about problems in your family, take them to the Lord in prayer together. Praying together as a family also teaches your children the value of depending on God and the need to take their concerns to Him.
2. Bible reading. Read the Bible through together as a family. You can use a year-long Bible reading guide or just read straight through. Talk about what the passage means and how you can apply it to your lives. Help your children see the relevance of God’s Word. It is helpful to read a commentary or Bible study for each book of the Bible in order to deepen your understanding.
3. Read other Christian books. Down through the years, God has used men and women to explain and expound on His Word and speak directly to their generations. For your own spiritual formation and the spiritual formation of your children, it is helpful to read some of these books together. Some title you should consider are: Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan; My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers; The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer; and The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.
Daily family devotions will strengthen your family’s individual bonds with God and your bonds with each other. Don’t let the devil tell you that you are too busy to spend this time together with the Lord. It only has to take about 30 minutes (but don’t limit it; let the Lord lead you). No matter the amount of time you spend, you and your children will reap dividends in spiritual strength and unity as a family.
by Paul Montague