Devotional Success With Your Child by Joshua Cooley
The tree is lying dead by the curbside for pickup, its brown needles falling away at the slightest touch. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” has mercifully disappeared from the radio airwaves for another eleven months. And you’re wondering who’s going to finance all the batteries that your kids’ new toys and gadgets require.
Yes, you survived another holiday season. Well done! But you might be thinking to yourself, “Now what?” Well, now is the perfect time to begin a devotional plan with your child!
Perhaps that seems a bit intimidating to you. Maybe you’ve never done it before, and you’re not exactly sure what to do or how to do it. Fear not! You just conquered Black Friday shopping, endless eggnog, and mall Santas. You can do anything.
Leading your family devotional time isn’t hard, but it does take a bit of intentionality. Here are seven keys to success:
Timing is everything.
- Every family’s schedule is different. Find a time of day that works for your family and make it devotional time. For example, it could be during breakfast, dinner, or right before bedtime. Just make sure it works for everyone and is free of distractions.
- Kids thrive on routines, so when you pick a devotional time, stick to it. If you model consistent, faithful time with the Lord, your family will see the value you place on dedicated moments in the Word and certainly reap spiritual benefits.
Make it fun!
- Devotional time shouldn’t feel like a trigonometry exam to your kids—or to you! If your kid senses it’s drudgery to you, it will become drudgery to them. So make devotions enjoyable! Be creative. Don’t do the same thing every day. Show them you’re excited about worshiping God with them, and they’ll follow your lead!
Accommodate your child’s learning style.
- Each child’s personality and learning style is different. My ten-year-old is a classic, overachieving firstborn. She loves to read and learn. If she could, she’d probably bring New Testament Greek commentaries and a Bible concordance to our nightly devotionals. My third child, on the other hand, is a sweet little pixie, flitting through life without a care. So I often do separate devotional times for them that look completely different. It takes more time, but the payoff is well worth it.
Allow time for Q&A.
- Remember: Devotional time with your child is not a sermon. It’s two-way communication. A young mind is an amazing processing plant of knowledge. Give your child an opportunity to ask questions and work through what they’re learning.
Don’t forget to pray.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” Modeling prayer for your child is an important part of parenting, so strive to show your child how to speak to their Heavenly Father. Here are some suggestions to do this:
- Memorize the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 together and walk them through what it means.
- Pray as your child listens to you.
- Have your child repeat what you say in prayer.
- When your child feels comfortable, have him/her pray on their own.
- If you have multiple kids, go around in a circle and give thanks to the Lord for specific things.
- But whatever you do, pray without ceasing!
Keep your times gospel-centric.
- Above all, make the glorious good news of God’s salvation through Jesus the focal point of your devotions. The entirety of Scripture points to Christ. As 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” When you think your child has heard the gospel enough, share it again. They can never hear it enough!
Hopefully, these tips will help spark a successful devotional time in your home. If you’re looking for devotional books to go through with your child, there are plenty of great options available. May I suggest my latest book, The One Year Devotions With Jesus ? As a 365-day devotional that walks kids through comprehensive biblical Christology at a pre-teen/teen level, it’s an easy-to-use tool for your family. And there’s no better time to begin than at the turn of the calendar since the book is set up, starting on January 1, to chronologically take them through Jesus’ pre-incarnate state all the way to his second coming. It’s not too late to pick one up!
You can also check out my other children’s devotionals, the Heroes of the Bible Devotional and The One Year Sports Devotions For Kids . But whatever you choose, I encourage you to spend time with your child in God’s Word. Unlike endless eggnog and Mariah Carey holiday songs, you won’t regret it!
Joshua Cooley is the children’s minister at Chapel Hill Bible Church (North Carolina). You can learn more about Joshua and his books on his website, www.joshuacooleyauthor.com . You can also follow Joshua on Facebook and Twitter .