And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
I remember my mother taking this to heart. When I was little, she read from the big family Bible and the Upper Room devotional before we went to bed. The words in the devotional were not written for a child to understand. At the end of the reading, Mom would lead us in the Lord’s prayer. I liked the words, but didn’t understand a lot of them. My little sister Lola didn’t either. This became really obvious one night when she got upset at the end of the prayer.”
“What’s wrong?” Mom asked.
“You said something about Halloween.”
“What do you mean?” Mom asked. I didn’t say anything about Halloween.”
I think my sister thought she had missed out on candy or something. Who knows? Mom finally figured it out. The Lord’s prayer starts like this: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
Lola heard the word hallowed and thought Mom said Halloween. Mom explained the meaning of the word and how hallo-wed sounded a bit like Halloween.
That story stayed with me as I grew up and became a mom. I knew spending a couple of hours in church every week was not enough to teach my children about the Lord, so my husband and I planned regular family devotions. We knew it was important to use age-appropriate language, so over the years we collected kids’ devotional books and Bibles to use.
I remembered a picture Bible we had when I was a child. The stories were laid out in comic-book style. I found something similar and bought it for my family. My son especially liked reading the stories in the book. We used it for so many years the cover started to tear and I had to tape it.
Besides reading stories for family devotions, we liked to play Bible charades. Once the kids knew enough Bible stories, they could play the game. They went off in another room for a few minutes to choose a story and practice. Then they came back to act out the story. As soon as we guessed the story, it was Mom and Dad’s turn.
We also played Bible Trivia, a game we got at a yard sale. We used the easy questions with the kids or made up our own. Playing with kids whose ages spanned seven years was sometimes a challenge. When our youngest, Sarah was old enough to play, we made the questions very simple., such as: “What was King David’s name?”
“Moses?” she tried.
We would all laugh as we explained the answer was in the question.
“Win, Lose, or Draw” was a popular TV game show when our kids were young, so we adapted the idea for family devotions. We propped up a dry-erase board on a table and put the names of Bible characters or stories on three by five cards. The person who’s “it” chooses a random card and has to draw the scene or character. We were not allowed to talk while drawing. The team has to guess by looking at the picture. (This is similar to the game Pictionary.) This was so much fun. My drawings didn’t look much better than the five-year-old’s, but nobody cared.
Now that I’m a grandmother, I still keep kids’ Bibles and devotionals in my house. I am happy to say there are plenty of materials available now to help parents and grandparents with family devotions.
One of my writer friends, Kathy Cassel, has written several devotionals for Tyndale. Her newest one is The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids. Kathy has written 365 devotionals with a trivia question and answer for each day. They are quick to read and a fun way to teach children about the Bible. You can find this and other books on Kathy’s blog, at: http://just4christiangirls.blogspot.com/.
Whatever you choose to do for family devotions, the important thing is to spend time together with the Bible. Make it age appropriate, and throw in a few games once in a while. Not only will you make lasting memories, but you will be obeying the command of the Lord to teach God’s word to your children.