The following household devotional habits were collected by surveying families who are already in the habit of doing them. If you’re struggling to build regular Christian habits into your household routine, hopefully this will be an encouragement and guide for you.
Those surveyed ranged from single Christians to Christian families with four or more children. Over 50% had two or three children and around one sixth of those surveyed had no children. The age of children ranged from newborns through to a 25 year old still living at home.
The ages of the people in your household will impact what and how much you can do during a devotional. So if you have newborn triplets and you’re trying to have a household discussion like a share-house of university students, then it might be a good idea to change your expectations. Conversely, if you’re treating your household of teenagers like they still have the cognitive capacity of primary school children, then you should probably change what you’re doing to feed their growing brains!
Time of Devotional
The majority, around 50%, of households indicated that they had some kind of devotional during dinner time. 25% said they have a devotional at breakfast. 45% indicated that they do it at a different time of day, mostly before they themselves go to bed or just before their children go to bed. Some households chose more than one timeslot. This means that there is no ‘right’ time to do it, so be flexible with the time your household gathers to read God’s word, pray, or read other Christian books. Since the majority of households do their devotions at night, either at dinner or before bed, then that could be a good time for you to attempt.
Content of Devotional
What each household includes in their devotional depends on their specific situation and capacity. Extra-biblical resources were often utilised to facilitate the devotion because it can be quite difficult to repeatedly come up with new helpful questions, or a reading plan, or songs. A great reminder that there are some fantastic resources available.
Almost all surveyed regularly open the Bible with their household. Those who didn’t explicitly say this indicated that they read kids Christian books but their responses imply that they do open the Bible. Some do this multiple times in a day.
The households with no kids find it easiest to come together once or twice during the week to open the Bible with each other. The rest of the week they had their own devotional time.
Those with toddlers often read from a toddler specific Bible or book before bed. Some are a little more creative across the day in how they open the Bible with their kids, often by singing Christian songs with them or through craft activities.
Those with primary-aged kids use more complex resources, such as catechisms, and try to foster some discussion about what they had read or thought about. Some still do this just before bed but spend a longer time compared to the toddler families. Some of these households have begun to introduce more practices into their daily routine given that their children are currently home from school. These households also generally sing Christian kids songs as part of the devotion.
Those with high school or older kids tend to have extended discussions about a particular Bible passage or topic. Some spend a reasonable amount of time praying together by sharing prayer points. These families also sing together, but select more suitable songs for the age bracket.
The variation amongst households confirms that your situation and capacity really dictate what you will be able to do. Most households don’t do complex Bible studies but use simple resources instead. Be encouraged by this, especially if you don’t think you’re very creative! These households value just doing something rather than coming up with the best thing.
The following list contains some of the resources recommended by those surveyed, it is not extensive and there are many more great resources available.
- New International Version (NIV)
- English Standard Version (ESV)
- Christian Standard Version (CSB)
- New Living Translation (NLT)
- International Children’s Bible (ICB)
- One Year Bible, available in many versions
- Audio Bibles (can be purchased or streamed using apps such as ‘Bible by YouVersion’)
- Bible for Kids app
- Devotionals provided by your local church
- By God’s Word, Phillip Jensen
- New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp
- New City Catechism, Tim Keller
- Long Story Short, Marty MacHowski
- Old Story New, Marty MacHowski
- Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett
- Common Prayer in Homes: Resources for Family Worship, available on bettergatherings.com
- The Big Picture Story Bible, David Helm
- Read Me a Bible Story 365, Sally Ann Wright
Recommended Websites for Kids Books:
- The Youth and Kids section on the Matthias Media website
- The Children section on the Reformers Bookshop website
- Moore College Mission resources, found at moore.edu.au/tag/moore-mission-2020
- Disciplines of a Godly Family/Man/Woman, Kent and Barbara Hughes
- Gospel-Centred Marriage, Tim Chester
- Gospel-Centred Family, Tim Chester
- Parenting, Paul David Tripp
- For the Love of Discipline, Sara Wallace
Music to Sing:
- Emu Music
- Keith and Kristyn Getty
- Sovereign Grace Music
- Colin Buchanan
- Josh Goscombe
- Australian Hymn Book
Wisdom for Very Busy Families
Finally, here’s some direct advice from some of those surveyed for anyone who’s particularly busy.
It’s worth prioritising Bible reading over other books. You could read smaller sections and meditate on a paragraph over a whole week. You could do it over breakfast or other meals, wake up 30 minutes earlier, and ask for suggestions from those around you.
For those with a crazy family schedule you could do a devotional as a 1-to-1 special time before bed with one parent and one child.
Doing a little and often is always better than a lot occasionally, or even doing a little occasionally. Regularity builds habits.
Kids observe and interpret everything parents do. If the parents think family devotion time is important, the child will think it is important. One of the best things our kids can see is their parent reading the Bible.
Try and just do something at some point, no system is perfect but it’s worth a try! I know of one mum who reads her boys devotions in the car on the way to school (one of the boys reads while she drives) as her husband is not a believer and is at work early in the morning.
Over to you
There are many different things you could do as a household, many opportunities and many creative ways to open God’s word together. And to help you out there’s a huge range of resources to make it a fun and easy experience for everyone. The household is primarily where Christianity is taught and caught, which is why doing something along the lines of those surveyed brings light and life to your household.
The family is the primary setting where evangelism of the next generation takes place. Parents, will you take this job seriously? The share-house is where so much Christian encouragement and growth can take place. Housemates, will you take this job seriously? The married couple have the potential to form lifelong gospel habits and practices in their home. Couples, will you take this job seriously?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15–21)
Let our households be ones that make a melody to the Lord with our hearts.
Hopefully your imagination has been sparked! What could you do as a household?