Here is an introduction to Family Devotions after a recent article encouraged women to challenge their husbands in this important task.
Talk about [these commandments] when you sit at home … Deuteronomy 6:7
I begin this section with some trepidation. Family devotions can be the Holy Grail of Christian family life. Have family devotions consistently and you are “in.” Admit that you fail at family devotions and….well, let’s just say you are a second class Christian family.
Family devotions are not the magic bullet that guarantees success. I grew up in a church-going home and I am walking with the Lord today. Yet, my father never once had anything close to family devotions. On the other hand, men I greatly respect consistently conducted family devotions when their children were young. Yet some of their children are not walking with the Lord today. Remember what we said at the beginning: there is no magic bullet. While fathers are commanded to nourish our children in the word and to talk about these commandments in the home, no clear method is commanded.
What is Family Devotions? The Positives
Having stated the cautions, history and experience resounds with the positives of Dad, Mom, and children sitting around and listening to the word of God.
History is full of pastors commending the importance of family worship.
“But family worship was also, to the Puritans, vitally important. Daily and indeed twice daily, the Puritans recommended, the family as a family should hear the Word read, and pray to God.” -J.I. Packer
“Masters of families, who preside in the other affairs of the house, must go before their households in the things of God. They must be as prophets, priests, and kings in their own families; and as such they must keep up family-doctrine, family-worship, and family-discipline: then is there a church in the house, and this is the family religion I am persuading you to. You must read the scriptures to your families, in a solemn manner, requiring their attendance on your reading, and their attention to it: and inquiring sometimes whether they understand what you read? Those masters of families who make conscience of doing this daily, morning and evening, reckoning it part of that which the duty of every day requires, — I am sure they have comfort and satisfaction in so doing, and find it contributes much to their own improvement in Christian knowledge, and the edification of those that dwell under their shadow; -Matthew Henry
“If we want to bring up a godly family, who shall be a seed to serve God when our heads are under the clods of the valley, let us seek to train them up in the fear of God by meeting together as a family for worship.” -Charles Spurgeon
There is something about family devotions that seems to wrap up a number of spiritual dynamics neatly in one package. When a family is together as a whole and the head of the household takes his place as the pastor of the family, something feels safe and right. A man is reminded of his appointment as pastor of his family. The children are reminded of their authority under Dad and Mom. Everyone is reminded of the centrality, authority, and necessity of the Word of God.
Yet, to be so good, family devotions are also rarely practiced. George Barna’s surveys have found that 90% of born-again Christians families do not have family devotions once a week! “Fewer than one out of ten born-again families read the Bible together during a typical week or pray together during a typical week.”![i]
Next time we will talk about 7 Principles to Guide Family Devotions.
[i] Barna, Revolutionary Parenting, page 31