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. Whether you use one of these ideas each week or only manage to squeeze in a couple during the next two months, you'll be teaching your children that any time is a great time to learn about God.
Getting to Know You
Tell your child what you were like when you were young, and follow up with questions about him. Encourage him to ask you questions, too.
- When I was your age, my favorite song was. … I liked it because. … What's your favorite song?
- I wanted to be a. … when I grew up. What do you want to do when you're grown up?
- I liked my mom because. … I liked my dad because. … What do you like most about mom and me?
Give your child a small gift, like stickers or a new book. Ask, "Do you like getting presents?" Then explain that God also gives us gifts. They are called talents. List some of your child's talents. Be sure to include character traits like kindness, generosity, or patience. Talk with your child about ways he can develop his talents and use them for God.Dear God, thank you for the talents you have given (child's name). Please help him (or her) to use these talents for your glory. Amen.
Ages: 6 and up
Needed: Pen and piece of paper for each child.
Give each child a pen and paper. Have them make a list of things they wish they could have done differently that day. When they're finished, tell them they can erase the things on their list and it will be like they never happened. Tell them you'll give a reward to whomever is the first to erase their whole list without tearing the paper or scribbling over the words. When they realize they can't erase the ink, tell them that the pen is like our actions. Once we do or say something, we can't erase it. We can ask forgiveness or do something to fix a situation, but we can't go back in time and change what we did. Ask your children why it's so important to think about what we do and say before we act.
Ages: 3 and up
Needed: A lollipop for each child.
Give each child a lollipop. Tell them that you're having a contest to see who can finish their lollipop first. Only licking and sucking on the lollipop are allowed—no biting! (If you just have one child, join in the contest yourself or simply time how quickly he or she can lick the lollipop.) Once you have a winner, talk about the lollipop. Tell your kids that love is like a lollipop: It's very sweet and easy to enjoy. It's sticky, and sometimes love gets a little sticky when we have problems with people we love. And just like it takes patience to resist biting the lollipop, love means being patient with others. We have to resist the temptation to think only of ourselves.
Family Night Fun
Ages 5 and up
Point: God can guide us away from Satan's traps.
Gather: Ten or more inexpensive mousetraps, pencil, Bible.
Go: Set one of the mousetraps and use the handle of a wooden spoon to show your children how it works. On each mousetrap, write a different sin your family might get trapped in, such as greed, lying, or laziness. Place the labeled mousetraps randomly around the room and set them. Next, blindfold the children and tell them they must walk around the room without stepping in the traps. Give them a moment to react, then assure them that you will guide each of them safely around the room.
Ask: Why did you let me lead you around the room? How can we help each other avoid Satan's traps?
Share: When Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus fought temptation by quoting the Bible. The Bible tells us what is right and what is wrong. We also know that God will always guide us away from temptation (Matt. 6:13, 1 Cor. 10:13).
Read: Psalm 119:9-11 and Proverbs 3:5-6. Talk about the ways knowing God's Word can protect us from sin. Ask your kids how they can acknowledge God "in all [their] ways."
Remember: Even if it looks good, ask God if you should.
Pray: Have each person identify a trap that they struggle with. Pray specifically for each person and ask God to guide them away from that trap.
Ages 3 and up
Point: God doesn't want us to worry about anything.
Gather: Bible, paper, and pencils.
Go: Give each family member a sheet of paper and have them list the things they worry about most. Ask each person to share their list, with the rule that no one can make fun of anyone else.
Ask: Why is it so easy to worry? Can you think of a time when worrying has helped you? What are some ways we can deal with our worries?
Share: Life gives us plenty to worry about. But God tells us not to worry. Why do you think God want us to stop worrying? The Bible shows us a better way to deal with things that scare us.
Read: Psalm 55:22 and Philippians 4:6-7. What do these passages tell us to do instead of worrying?
Remember: Don't worry. Pray and be happy.
Pray: Allow time for each family member to share prayer concerns and answers to prayer.
Mealtime Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for providing us with so many different and wonderful foods to eat.
Main Course: Serve only bread and honey for dinner. Now read Exodus 16:2-7; 3135.
Table Talk: What do you think it would be like to eat the same thing every day? God gave manna when the Israelites grumbled. Why do you think God provided for them even when they were ungrateful? What are some ways we can be more thankful for all that we have?
Put a Lid on It
Mealtime Prayer: Lord, help us be trustworthy people who are careful with the feelings of others.
Main Course: After the meal, set several plastic food containers on the table. Take all the lids off and tell your family you don't think the lids are important. Read Proverbs 11:13; 16:28.
Table Talk: What would happen if you stored food in containers without lids? How would the food be affected? How about other food in the refrigerator? How is an open container like someone who gossips? How are other people affected by gossip? How is a trustworthy person like a container with a snug-fitting lid? How can you help each other gossip less?
Copyright © 2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today magazine.
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March/April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 4, Page 14