Here are my previous posts in this series on family devotions:
- The Case for Family Devotions
- The Structure of Family Devotions
- The Structure of Family Devotions (continued)
- Overcoming Obstacles to Family Devotions
Let’s look at some additional obstacles to having regular family worship and consider ways to overcome them.
Set an example of a thankful attitude—we get to worship God; it’s not something we have to do. As parents, we must quickly recognize when we have a bad attitude ourselves and repent of it before the family. Perhaps my bad attitude is even a reaction to my child’s bad attitude, but that doesn’t absolve me of my responsibility to walk in the Spirit and bear His fruit (Galatians 5:16–26).
When dealing with a bad attitude, ask yourself questions like the following, and encourage your children to do the same.
- “Do I have a right to be upset?” (Genesis 4:6–7; Jonah 4:9).
- “If God were here (and He is), would I want to be acting this way in front of Him?”
- “Am I trusting the sovereignty of God, knowing that He is in control of how things are going today?”
- “Is there a sin in my attitude or response that I need to repent of?”
- “How can I rejoice, pray, and give thanks in this situation?” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
From the Old Testament stories of complaining Israelites in the wilderness and God’s promise to replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh to the New Testament epistles with instruction for Christian living, Scripture addresses wrong attitudes head-on. Simply reading through the Bible will give plenty of opportunities to teach about how to receive a new heart through salvation and how to maintain a pleasing attitude toward the Lord.
Have realistic expectations regarding attention spans. A toddler sitting for ten minutes is impressive. If the older children are ready for a twenty-minute family time, perhaps you can give the toddler a book or some toys to play with quietly in the same room.
Be creative in keeping the children interested in devotions, perhaps occasionally livening things up with pictures, puppets, skits, object lessons, or coloring. The Bible communicates truth creatively (think of Christ’s parables), and so can we. Encourage the older children to think of ways to capture the interest of the younger ones. Involve older children in the reading, and challenge them through lively discussions.
The wife can be her husband’s helpmeet as he shepherds the family spiritually by being his cheerleader and giving words or notes of encouragement. She can ask her husband for specific ways she can help. By managing the household well, she can ensure that family devotions aren’t crowded out by the hectic pace of life (Titus 2:4–5).
Since the mother generally spends more time with the children than the father does, she can reinforce the family devotions by Deuteronomy 6 teaching at opportune moments. She can also help the little ones get up to speed for family Bible reading by telling them Bible stories with pictures.
If a godly father isn’t present to lead the family spiritually, God can still use her alone, as He did Timothy’s mother and grandmother, to teach the life-giving Scriptures, which lead to salvation through faith in Christ (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14–15).
Stay tuned for the final post in this series. We’ll talk about how to not miss the main point in family devotions.