Help for Leading Family Devotions
Our main responsibility as parents is to train up our children to love the Lord. This has always been a job for parents, as the Lord told the Jewish people to diligently teach their children this truth “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) That command of teaching our children how to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and might should still be followed today. When they asked Jesus what the greatest command was, he said it was this one (Matthew 22:36-37).
Most Christian parents agree this is important, but yet many of us don’t know how to do this. The good news is this passage gives us instructions on how to do it: Talk about it. A LOT! Every chance you get bring up the Bible; talk about what you are reading and learning. Ask them about their favorite Bible stories or what they learned in church. I will often quiz my boys with Bible trivia and when they don’t know an answer I will take time to explain the story to them. There is nothing better than simply allowing these conversations to permeate every part of your life with your children.
Nevertheless, even with all the best intentions in the world, I will often forget or not be as intentional as I like. This is where a good tool or resource can come in handy to help facilitate these conversations.
My family uses the New City Catechism by The Gospel Coalition. For many of us the idea of a catechism is foreign or seems like it belongs to the Roman Catholics, but that should not be the case, a catechism is simply “a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.”
In this particular catechism, there are 52 questions and answers, one a week for a year.
The First Question:
They then give a passage to support the answer: Romans 14:7-8 “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” There is additional commentary and instruction as well, and if you use the “children’s mode” they also include a song to help little ones remember the answer.
When we eat together as a family, I will pull up the app on my phone read the question, answer, and Bible verse and talk about what it means. Since we have young children we will sing the song together and try to make up hand motions to help us remember the words. We will repeat this each night at dinner over the week until we memorize then move onto the next question.
Is this the only way to do family devotions? No, not at all, but I have found it to be a helpful and practical tool for my family and it might be for your family as well. As a parent, don’t fall into the trap thinking it’s the church’s responsibility to train your children and not yours. Our goal is to help encourage you to train up your children to follow the Lord with all heart, soul, and might as only parents can do!
Link to website: http://newcitycatechism.com/ You can also download it in all the major app stores by searching for New City Catechism.
Dr. Joel Hastings
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