By Beth Howe
I love December. I love the Christmas festivities, the decorating, and all the time with family as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Our family has lots of birthdays in December, and it can get overwhelming at times. Sometimes expenses can become my focus, but I work hard to keep my family focused on our Savior. But what about once all the thrills and craziness of December are over?
The world will tell us to set New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. To read more. To give more. To be better parents.
We often try all of these to no avail. We make it two weeks — maybe. Then we forget. We eat that donut. We binge-watch that show on Netfl ix. As much as we try to be the perfect parent or spouse, we know it’s not possible. Anxiety ensues. Failure hangs over us like a cloud.
But what we forget is that our children do not need perfect parents. What they need is a perfect Savior and parents pointing them to Him daily. Your spouse doesn’t need you to be a perfect husband or wife. What they really need is a perfect Savior and a spouse who calls out their name to the Savior daily. And family devotional times are integral to this.
A family devotional time would have been quite intimidating for me 10 years ago. But God has helped our family discover rhythms of grace that allow us to spend time with Him daily. If you’re like us, bedtime is often the best time to recap the day and close with a time of intentional Scripture reading and prayer. The amount of time this takes, what you focus on, and what you typically do adapts as your children age.
With preschool children, use a simple preschool story Bible. For gradeschoolers, use a devotional Bible that is age appropriate. Regardless of the age of your kids, your goal should be to read Scripture in accordance with their understanding and attention spans and pray together.
Another great idea is to have a weekly family worship service. Let your kids decide the songs and Bible story, then let them lead in prayer. This typically takes 20 minutes or less depending on how old your kids are and the number of songs you sing.
Finally, I challenge you to memorize Scripture as a family. If you have older children, learn a verse a week. If you have younger children, learn a verse a month. Start with verses like John 3:16 or Proverbs 3:5-6 — verses they’re likely familiar with. Once they have those down, graduate to passages like Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:31; and 10:9 to help them learn more about salvation. Children’s minds are like sponges, and beginning the practice of Scripture memorization at an early age can lead to lifetime of hiding God’s Word in their hearts.
So before you set an unkeepable family resolution, set a simple goal of reading Scripture daily and praying as a family. Find an age-appropriate resource that will help you reach that goal with your family, such as The Bible is My Best Friend Family Devotional, The Big Picture Interactive 52-Week Bible Story Devotional, and the Devotions Off the Map.
This year, I challenge you create a family worship service. Place a Bible verse in a central location for your family to see often. Start reading Scripture as a family daily. After a few days, your kids will likely be reminding you each night when it’s time for Bible reading and prayer.
Let’s make 2018 the year our families to grow in the Word, in prayer, and in worship to the One who is worthy.
Beth Howe is the wife of Jonathan Howe, mom of four, and has worked in Children’s Ministry for the past 14 years. She loves writing, teaching, and serving the church and families to see children discipled.
This article originally appeared in ParentLife Magazine (January 2018) ParentLife.