The foundation of our family Bible time is reading God’s Word and prayer. Next, we added music and blessing.
Sometimes we sing. The younger children particularly enjoy fast songs with movements. For me, it is hard to sing when I’m in emotional pain but once I begin, even through gritted teeth, a lot of the weight of the world drops off my shoulders like a soldier shedding his seventy-pound rucksack. Initially reluctant, teens relax into the music and even get into the cheesy movements with younger siblings before shifting into favorite praise songs.
We always close by praying aloud together, beginning with the youngest and ending with the oldest, which is typically me. When the youngest asks to go backwards, I get to pray first. To help her children become comfortable with prayer, my friend encouraged her children to tell God one grumbly thing and one good thing.
“Lord, I didn’t like when my friend was mean today. Thank you for my family and my dog. Amen.”
One of my children started a notebook where we recorded prayer requests, answered prayers, and things we were thankful for. It was a boost for our faith to look back on what God had done on our behalf.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
Similarly, one friend highlights the verses the family memorizes in the Bible and writes answered prayers and noteworthy remembrances along the margins. Their family Bible is a family history of God’s interactions with their household.
Last, I added a blessing, something we saw modeled in Scripture. Over and over the patriarchs spoke a blessing over their children. As I read through the Bible, each time I came across uplifting words of grace, I added them to my list of blessings to say over my children. In between, my standard blessing quickly became, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num. 6:24–26 nkjv).
Whether we gather for family devotions in the morning, after dinner, or at bedtime, blessing the children with verses from Scripture is a reassuring way to send everyone off to the next thing on the agenda.
My favorite blessings to say over my children are:
- Numbers 6:24–26
- Ephesians 3:14–21
Other options include:
- Genesis 12:2–3
- Deuteronomy 28:3–6
- Psalm 20
- Romans 15:5–6, 13
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17
- Hebrews 13:20–22
- Jude 1:24–25
This Bible time routine is what worked at my house. You can use the good ideas that fit your family and discard the rest, or save some parts for another time when it does apply. Anyone who says there is a right or wrong way to do devotions needs medication for legalism. The important thing was for us to find an easy method that regularly got us into the Bible and into relationship with the Lord. It is a forever foundation of truth we can lean on when so much has proven unfaithful.
To sum up, start with first things first. Begin reading a chapter in the Bible each day and pray aloud together. That’s enough. As you are ready, expand the reading to include a chapter from the New Testament, one from the Old Testament, one from Psalms, and one from Proverbs. One by one, add in the other components. If you want to.
Our family devotional time looks something like this:
- Read 1 chapter in children’s picture Bible and/or 1 chapter in the Old Testament
- Sing praises
- Read 1 chapter in Psalms
- Memory review
- Read 1 chapter in Proverbs
- Practice new memory verse
- Read 1 chapter in the New Testament
- Family prayer