A New Year’s Resolution: Beginning Family Devotions

As we prepare to enter into a new year, you are likely thinking that 2019 will be different, right?!  In fact, you may even make a list of resolutions because you are resolved that the new year will be different!  Well, we all know the story of broken new year’s resolutions. But that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to make them. The dawning of a new year reminds us of new beginnings, so it’s a perfect time to evaluate and restructure.  For those of you who are parents with children still at home, particularly younger children, let me encourage you to evaluate and structure, if necessary, family devotions.  The important counsel to keep in mind is, “Keep it simple!” You don’t have to organize an entire worship service.
 

Conviction: These things must first be on your heart.

Whatever steps you take toward shepherding (discipling) your family should be borne out of personal conviction that this is the biblical requirement for parents (Ephesians 6:4; see Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Psalm 78:1-4; Exodus 13:3-10; Joshua 4:1-7). If you are convinced from Scripture that you as the parent are the primary discipler of your family, then you will want to establish helpful practices on an ongoing basis to assist you in your effort to raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. One such method is family worship or devotions.

Pray that the Lord would grant you the grace to see the necessity of shepherding/discipling your family and the strength to be faithful in implementing helpful strategies to fulfill this biblical command.
 

Content: What should I be teaching my children?

As I have studied Scripture, I see two primary areas that we should be covering with our children on an ongoing basis. First, is the gospel: we should be telling, re-telling, teaching and living in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our children should understand the difference between rebellion, religion and the gospel. There are many helpful resources that our pastors would be happy to recommend, but it is best to go directly to God’s Word, the Bible. So, choose a translation that is faithful and easy for your family to understand. Again, your pastors are more than happy to help you find a good translation for your family. Just ask!

Second, we should disciple our children in worldview thinking. In other words, we are to teach our children the implications of the gospel and its perspective on all of life. According to Ronald Nash, a worldview is comprised of at least five components which ask and answer ultimate questions. A worldview addresses the following questions – What do you believe about God (theology)? What do you believe about humanity (anthropology)? What do you believe about truth and how we know truth (epistemology)? What do you believe about this world and the world to come (metaphysics)? What do you believe about right and wrong (ethics)? These questions can only be adequately answered in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, the best way to address these questions is to ask them of the Bible as you are reading together. So then, the most essential content of family devotions is the Bible, God’s Word. 

 

Course: How do I go about discipling my children?

If you are to be faithful in gathering your family to disciple them, it will be vital that you set a regular time each day, being flexible of course.  Our family has also found that it is helpful to have a regular place – for us, it has generally been the breakfast table.  Then establish a plan, a simple plan.

Contrary to what you may have read or been told, the key to regular family discipleship is to keep it simple! Too many parents are scared away from a regular time of family discipleship for fear of what it may involve. Don Whitney, in his book, Family Worship in the Bible, in History & in Your Home, suggests that there are essentially three components to family worship (37-39):
 
►Read Your Bible: There is no rush in reading the Bible. Various plans offer one year and two year plans. The key is to be sure to read regularly, even a little each day.  And ask lots’ of questions.  Then let your children answer them.
 
►Pray Together: Your children will learn to pray from hearing you pray. Pray with them, and invite them to pray with you.
 
►Sing: Singing helps us remember. Find a hymnal that is strong theologically. Find the music we sing when we gather together and teach those songs to your children. Also, be sure to teach your children the classic hymns of the faith.  If you are not musically inclined, it’s ok.  There are lots of music resources available that could be of help.  Also, you may want to introduce the singing component at some other point in your day.  Singing is fun and memorable, so at least consider exposing your children to Scripture put to good music.
 
If time permits, you may add other components to your time such as Scripture memory, catechism, reading of devotional books, missionary biographies.  But the key is to read your Bible and pray regularly with your children.  May the Lord grant us grace to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  And if this is new to us, then may 2019 be the year that we begin to disciple our family.
Love,