Family Devotions . . or a Devoted Family

He tells me in a text that the day's scripture is from his favorite chapter, Isaiah 58.

I gave the yellow devotional, the same one that has sat on our dining table for twenty-four years this March according to the dedication in the front, to the three married couples for Christmas.

Mom and Dad gave us ours when Josh was barely one year old. The daily dose of scripture, a poem, and a short paragraph or two has fed our family's souls for many meals. I usually read it at breakfast and, like that first simple meal, it supplies just enough inspiration to fuel my day's beginning.

There have been seasons where I've read it religiously every day. And seasons where it's gathered dust. But over the cycle of seasons and year, it has faithfully fed and instructed my heart and mind. It's dog-eared pages (almost every one), the cover that has faded in the sun, and its broken binding all testify to its faithful service.

We aren't a family that "does" devotions. We've tried, and it didn't work well. Maybe we didn't try hard enough. I still believe the practice is powerful in the life of a family! We just aren't very good at it.

I like to assuage my conscience with the thought that we are a family of doers. I'm the only one around here that enjoys sitting still and being instructed. On the other hand . . . and the debate continues in my head. Guilty or just not designed for that kind of structure? The verdict is still out.

But whether we are guilty of "family devo" neglect or not, here's the thing . . . my oldest son has a favorite chapter in the Bible!

We did read faithfully before bed from the kids' children's Bible for years. When Josh was about eight, Jeff and I were out of town for a few days. On a call home, I asked Josh what he'd been up to. I'll never forget his answer. 

"I read Amos," he replied nonchalantly. He read the book of Amos!

More recently, our eighteen year old son Ben has been digging deeper into scripture. He was sharing his excitement with me as God's word is "coming alive." He's discovering a fresh connection and relevance. Through the Bible, God is engaging Ben in a new way in a new season of life.

Then he said this: "I'm so grateful for how you and Dad have taught us and read scripture to us for our whole lives."

I stammered, "Thank you," feeling a bit like someone taking credit where it was not due.

There are precious few things that make this momma's heart as happy as children who love and seek God. Somehow along the way of our "devotion-less" family days, we managed to instill a love and respect for God's word. Like the meals we set before them, day after day, they were nourished on truth. Not every meal was formal. In fact, most weren't. But they were mostly healthy, prepared with love, and faithful.

Our Bible instruction has rarely been formal (hardly anything around here is). But it has been served through thousands of conversations, consistent fellowship with other believers, the example of our own imperfect pursuit of truth, a few formal times of family devotions (think holidays), and faithful lives.

Family devotions are awesome! If they're a part of your family's life, that is wonderful. But if they're not, don't be discouraged. All is not lost! Your life is the loudest message to your children.  Devotions, like any other tool, are a means to an end. In this instance, the end is a family that is devoted to God. 

In Deuteronomy 6, God told His people to teach their children His ways throughout the day.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, 
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, 
when you walk by the way, 
when you lie down, 
and when you rise up.

The apostle Paul reminds us to bring our children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. That's the goal. How we achieve it will look as unique as our family.

The same little yellow devotional is now in the homes of our oldest three. I secretly hope it's sitting on their dining table. And in a decade or so, I pray it's dog-eared, grease stained, and falling apart.

And their family's appetites are fed on truth, sated with His Word, and hungry again every day.

Are you tempted to focus more on family devotions than a devoted family? Does your family do family devotions? If so, how have you made it work? What are some other intentional ways you teach your children God's ways and truth?

I'd love to hear your thoughts! You can leave a comment here or on my Facebook page Winsome Woman.

I'm linking up with Holley Gerth and friends at . . .