Having regular family devotionals has been our family's bedrock practice for the last few years.
We follow a very simple routine. Before we put the kids to bed, we read, we pray, and then we sing.
It's called "Bible time" in our home. That time together in the evening slows us down before bed, focuses us in on remembering the Lord and His provision in the day, and creates rhythms and examples for our kids that we hope they will take with them for life.
Here's what we are learning as we are doing this with young children:
1) 5 - 10-minutes is the sweet spot
When it's under 5 minutes, I've rushed it. When it's over 10 minutes, the kids lose interest. Somewhere within that 5-to-10-minute number there's a sweet spot that works with our kids' attention spans in the evening.
2) It was awkward at the beginning
I didn't quite know what I was doing at first. I didn't feel articulate enough or feel qualified for the task. My oldest definitely didn't know what I was doing in the beginning. My youngest still doesn't quite know what we are doing yet. The singing was a little strange at the start.
But after a few weeks of getting past the awkward, we found our rhythm, and it turned into another one of our family activities that we do regularly together.
3) We've loved having others join us
This happened naturally. When we had friends over for dinner, or friends staying with us, we would invite them to join our 5-10-minute devotion. Some of our most memorable devotion times we've ever had as a family has been in the company of our friends.
4) The kids aren't always interested
As parents, we wish this wasn't true. But it is. Sometimes the kids are fussy. Sometimes they are distracted. Sometimes they don't want to read. Sometimes they don't want to pray. Sometimes they don't want to sing.
Pushing through these moments is challenging as parents, and we've clung to Proverbs 22:6 -
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it"
5) The kids remember
And truthfully, I'm not always interested. One time I intentionally skipped our devotion after a particularly long and hard day. As I was tucking my oldest in, her eyes got big as if she remembered something important, and she said, "Dad! We haven't done Bible time yet!"
Ouch. And right she was. Back to the living room couch we went, and we did our Bible time.
If you're not doing family devotions, all you need to do is get started. Use our pattern: read, pray, sing, or find another structure that works better for you. And if you are already doing family devotions, keep going!
If you are looking for some resources to get started or augment your own family devotions, here's resources we've found helpful: