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Family Time with God

Try our quick and easy family devotions for all ages.

Family devotions don't have to be formal sit-down events. Use these quick ideas to connect with your kids during meals, in the car, or at bedtime. The more involved "Family Night" ideas will help you create memorable evenings (or afternoons) with the whole crew. We've also added some activities just for toddlers so that even your youngest children will discover that anytime is a great time to learn about God.

Mealtime Moments

1. Banana-mals

Ages 3 and up
Mealtime Prayer: Have each person thank God for one of the amazing, wonderful, or funny animals he created.
Main Course: Place a bowl of fruit on the table for dessert. Be sure to include a banana for each person and smaller fruits, such as apple slices, grapes, berries, or raisins. Peel bananas to make bodies for your banana-mals. Use toothpicks to attach other chunks of fruit to make arms, legs, heads, tails, and even faces.
Table Talk: If you were God, what kind of animals would you make? Do you think God had fun creating all the different kinds of animals?

2. Grounded

Ages 4 and up
Mealtime Prayer: Help us, like Samuel, to have none of our words fall to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19).
Main Course: Serve a bag of mini marshmallows for dessert. Take turns throwing one marshmallow up in the air and trying to catch it in your mouth. Each time someone catches one, they get a point. The first person to get to five wins.
Table Talk: The Bible verse means that Samuel's words were trustworthy and that he always kept his promises. What kind of words "fall to the ground"? How can you keep your words from falling to the ground?

3. Just for Toddlers

Bible Verse: The Lord is good (Psalm 100:5).
Game: Play Patty-cake with these words:

Patty-cake, Patty-cake, Thank you, God
Patty-cake, Patty-cake, For our food
Patty-cake, Patty-cake, Thank you, God
Patty-cake, Patty-cake, You are good

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving me the food I need. You are good to me. Amen.

Joyride

1. Telling Tales

Ages 2 and up
A parent starts telling a story, saying (for example), "A giant named Henry started walking barefoot from Idaho." The parent talks for 15 seconds, then lets a child continue the story. The child might say, "Henry picked up a house and carried it." Each family member takes a turn telling part of the story, letting a parent finish the story and gives it a moral—if possible. Explain that our lives are part of God's story. Every one of us adds our part to the story of God's people that started with Adam and Eve.

1. The Bible Name Game

Ages 3 and up
Who says that genealogies and lists of names are boring? In the car have the nondriving parent or older child read some of the names from the first several chapters of 1 Chronicles. Pick funny-sounding names like Mibsam, Husham, Heman, Gazez, Hashubah, and Hazzobebah. Imagine what each person did. Maybe Heman was a weightlifter and Husham was a babysitter. Try using some of the names to make up knock, knock jokes or play the name game (Mibsam, Mibsam-bo-bibsam, banana-fana-fo-fibsam, etc.). Talking about these names is funny, but it also lets your children know that these ancient names belong to real people who loved God.

Family Night Fun

1. In Control

Ages 5 and up
Point: Self-control helps us resist sin.
Gather: Blindfolds, watch or timer, feather, Bible.
Go: Have children sit on the floor blindfolded. Instruct them to hold still for three minutes and set the timer. After one minute, begin to tickle them with the feather. If any of them can hold still, give that child a small reward.
Ask: Was it hard or easy for you to keep perfectly still? Would it have been easier if you'd known we were going to tickle you?
Share: Tell your kids about a time you were tempted to do something you shouldn't. Ask them to think about some of the sins that tempt them. How can we prepare to face temptation?
Read: Titus 2:11-12 and 1 Peter 2:11-12 aloud. Ask, "How does self-control help us say no to sin? Why is it important for us to resist sin? How can we help each other practice self-control?"
Remember: Before sin can take its toll, get ahead with self-control.
Pray: Thank God for giving you the strength to say no to sin. Ask him to help you resist temptation.

2. Got Milk?

Ages 4 and up
Point: Just as we grow physically and mentally, we need to grow spiritually.
Gather: Family photo albums showing your children at different ages, a tape measure, a bathroom scale, Bible.
Go: Gather everyone together and look at pictures. Notice the growth of your children. Measure and weigh each child to show children how much they have grown since birth.
Ask: What are things you can do now that you couldn't do a year ago? What had to happen for you to be able to do these things? What are other ways you've changed in the past year?
Share: God created us to grow physically and mentally, and we've been looking at how we've done these things over the years. But God also wants us to grow spiritually.
Read: 1 Peter 2:2 aloud and ask these questions: What does it mean to crave something? What is spiritual milk? Why do we need this milk? Why do you think God wants us to grow in this way? How can our family get to know God better?
Remember: Know more to grow more.
Pray: Ask God to help your family know him more deeply.

Bedtime Blessings

1. A Colorful Promise

Ages 3 and up
As you tuck your child in to bed, ask, "Why do you think God made rainbows?" Read Genesis 9:8-16 aloud, paraphrasing it as needed to help your child understand the story. Say, "Whenever you see a rainbow, look closely. You'll see that the colors are in exactly the same order every time. They never change. Rainbows help us remember that God will never change. He will always keep his promises, and he will always love us."
Pray: Dear God, thank you for loving Noah, loving your world, and loving [your child's name]. Thank you for always keeping your promises. Amen.

2. Putting It Together

Ages 4 and up
Bring one of your child's puzzles into the bedroom. Ask your child, "What would happen if one of these pieces got lost? Would you still be able to put the puzzle together?" Then say, "Our days are filled with lots of different pieces, too. We play, do chores, sleep, eat, and do many other things each day. When we put those pieces together, we have a complete life. But if we leave out some of those things, our 'puzzle' doesn't fit together. That's why God wants us to make time for all the different parts of life." Read Ecclesiastes 3:1.
Pray: Dear God, thank you for all of life's different parts. Help [child's name] make time for every piece. Amen.

3. Just for Toddlers

Bible Verse: I pray to you, O Lord (Psalm 69:13).
Game: Play Patty-cake with these words:

Patty-cake, Patty-cake, Say "good night"
Patty-cake, Patty-cake, Sleep so tight
Patty-cake, Patty-cake, Watch me pray
Patty-cake, Patty-cake, For this day

Prayer: Tuck me in, God, nice and tight. Please watch over me through the night. Amen.

Heritage Builders, a ministry of Focus on the Family, is dedicated to training and equipping parents to pass on a spiritual heritage to their children. For more information or to request resources visit: www.heritagebuilders.com

Summer 2002, Vol. 14, No. 3, Page 16

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