Many years ago, my husband and I were relaxing on the couch when a thought came to mind. I said, “When we have children, I want them to be children after God’s own heart and enjoy His company every single day. I struggled as a teenager to have regular quiet time, so wouldn’t it be great if they went to God every day for everything?”
That evening, we agreed to build this habit. Our hope was that our children would feel something was amiss if a day went by without spending time with the Lord.
We took to heart the Lord’s instructions:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:5–7)
Family Devotions When the Kids Were Young
When our first son was born, we started reading the Bible to him each day. He didn’t yet understand the words, but in the quiet of the evening, my husband and I read Scripture and prayed aloud with him.
As our second and third sons arrived, Bible reading time stretched. Bible storybooks would be piled on us as each child brought their favorites. This was a special time of communing with God for the whole family.
We worked long hours, often coming home late. We would have a play activity with the boys before giving them a shower, followed by quiet time. Many evenings, we were exhausted.
And after a weekend outing, we’d arrive home with the boys asleep in our arms and be tempted to skip quiet time.
But the less exhausted parent would get everyone refreshed and devotions started. Often, one of the tykes would spring up and holler, “Bible time! We can’t miss Bible time!” That got us moving.
Family Devotions for School-Going Kids
When the boys started school, we continued with devotions. We conducted quiet time at the dinner table right after the meal, so the boys could resume doing homework after that.
Those times were too short. None of us liked that, so we added morning devotions. We read from a devotional and prayed. The boys learnt to put each new day into the Lord’s caring hands.
Our children shared a room and they read their Bibles in bed, then discussed what they had read.
Because we were busy, we sought a stress-free method for devotions and decided that teaching by reading aloud was easy. No preparation was needed!
We selected age-appropriate books, and as the boys got older they took turns reading. We paused often to discuss questions.
If we didn’t have answers, we demonstrated how to look up commentaries or search trusted online resources.
The Whole Bible Approach
No one can grasp a novel by reading a few pages here and there. If we did that, we’d have a distorted idea of the story.
Likewise, if we jumped around in Bible reading, we would never understand Scripture’s big picture.
…we decided to guide the boys through a chronological survey of the Bible each year, covering Genesis through Revelation in different ways.
To avoid that, we decided to guide the boys through a chronological survey of the Bible each year, covering Genesis through Revelation in different ways. This helped them learn how each book fits into the Bible’s overall framework. We interspersed this with books covering specific topics.
And as the boys matured, we read books that my husband and I were personally interested in.
We had to adjust our routine to make room for our priority: time with God. We called these “course corrections”. Whenever something wasn’t working, we course corrected.
We selected age-appropriate books, and as the boys got older they took turns reading.
Sometimes we made course corrections every few weeks. But we told ourselves: “No guilt, no shame, no blame when course correcting!”
Life is full of changes and new challenges, and if we wanted time with God, we needed to course correct.
Personal Devotion Time for the Kids
“When should the boys have their own devotions?” my husband asked one day. “They need to learn to have their own private time with God.”
Our boys were now in their tweens and teens. It was time for a major course correction.
“Boys! Time to shower and have quiet time,” we would call out each night. Our children shared a room and they read their Bibles in bed, then discussed what they had read.
The boys learnt to put each new day into the Lord’s caring hands.
Often, we sat with them for our own devotions before praying together. Some nights, I wasn’t sure who was encouraging whom.
Were we encouraging them by having our quiet time beside them? Or, were they encouraging us not to miss a night?
Though they now had their own devotions, we still gathered for family Bible study each week. We’d listen to a lecture series and discuss. We treasured this learning time.
A Living Legacy of Regular Time with the Lord
Our eldest son is now serving National Service with the Singapore Armed Forces. The rest of us are overseas. The other day, we received a message from him on our family chat group.
He was reading Romans during his quiet time and believed he’d found the answer to a question we had been discussing. It was a good conversation.
But the less exhausted parent would get everyone refreshed and devotions started.
How my heart leapt to know he is continuing his daily time with God. Being separated from him is not easy. But the habit we cultivated in him continues to shape his life.
He’s meeting the God of the universe each day for wisdom, comfort, advice, and love. His Heavenly Father is guiding him better than we ever could.
Our season of hovering over our children is drawing to a close. As I reflect on their childhood, I thank God they did not struggle as I had.
My prayer is that quiet time would be for them as necessary as daily meals. I pray that daily devotions would be a lifestyle for them, and their future wives and children. I pray this blessed habit will be the heritage that is passed down to our descendants, generation after generation.