Here are a few more practical suggestions for family devotions that our family has followed over the past 20 years.
1. Start while the family is eating. If you decide you want to have devotions around the dinner table, then it might be good to start while everyone is still eating. This will help focus the conversation and keep little people occupied.
2. Let little hands do something to keep them busy. If you decide you want to do something a little longer after dinner then make sure their hands have something to do. Our family let little hands color or play with a small toy. I would often ask a few questions to make sure they were listening… and they were!
3. There is nothing wrong with moving completely away from the table to the couch. If you move from the table, you are making devotions a bigger deal. The advantage is that you will spend a longer time together. The danger is that once you get up from the table you will get distracted and not get back to devotions. The other danger is that you will make devotions such a big deal that you will quickly give up when you don’t have a large amount of time. At times, our family did move away from the table and I would read to our children on the couch, but our default was always to stay at the table.
4. Solve the Bible Dilemma – When opening the Bible at dinner time there are three options. One, Dad brings a Bible and the others listen (or find something to do with their hands when they are little.) Two, the family has generic “devotion” Bibles that are brought enmass to the table so that the family can follow along with their eyes. Three, the children go and get their own Bible so that they can look at the verses with their own eyes.
Our family has done all three of these. Dad or Mom bringing his own Bible is efficient but the children can be more passive. Grabbing generic devotion Bibles and looking a different verses keeps our older children engaged and looking at more complicated passages with their eyes. Having their own Bibles allows them to see the verse or story so that later they may go back to it. Each methods has its positive and negative points.
Family devotions is hard work. But it is worth the work. And yields great fruit. As I said in the introduction, though not specifically commanded by Scripture, family devotions seems to incorporate a number of biblical commands.
Next time: Why You Should NOT Have Family Devotions!