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The Importance of Family Devotions

Before my husband and I entered the marriage covenant, we agreed that we were covenanting to something lifelong. This excited us as we dreamed about raising our children, serving in the church, and being gray-haired empty nesters that sip coffee together on the porch. Of course, divorce wasn't on our minds, but we acknowledged that trying times would come, yet we agreed that amid hardships, we'd stay wed. Did we have much experience? No, of course not, we had never been married, but we had Scripture and prayer. We knew that we had the Sword and communion with a holy God. Now, we've been married for a bit over a year, and while that may leave us somewhat unfit to give marital advice, the advice I'd give any couple or family doesn't come from my wisdom – it comes from God's inspired Word. So I feel confident to speak what I know to be true from Scripture, and that is: every couple should make family devotions a daily priority.

Yes, communication is essential, and financial planning is of use for a godly marriage and household, but nothing serves us as the Scripture and prayer do. These things should be our delight, and our spouse and children should know that God is our joy and strength. When I see my husband's love for the Word and prayer, I feel encouraged to spend more time communing with God. I desire that same longing for our children. I want them to see and understand that being in Scripture and prayer multiple times a day is not weird or radical – it's normal Christianity. This is the life God calls us to – not one of vain rituals but intimate communion with Him. Just as I speak to my husband daily and listen to him talk to me, I should commune with God, my Father. Every single day of the year calls for devotion to God as a family, and how can we be devoted to God if we fail to hear Him speak in His Word and neglect to speak to Him in prayer?

Scripture's Call to Family Devotions

As we prepare to welcome our precious baby boy into the world, I've been considering what our day-to-day life as a Christian family will look like. Though our little boy won't be able to comprehend Scripture or understand our prayers for a while, we still plan on having him as a part of our family devotions. Before he understands what we read in the Bible, he'll know that we're reading God's Word, and it's so important that it's a part of our daily routine. That is all he'll know for a while, but even that will be a solid foundation to build on as the years progress.

Teaching the Scripture to our children is something we are called to do with diligence, which implies it is a daily activity done with earnestness. I find in Scripture several reasons to partake in daily family devotions.

Family Devotions fix our minds on God. Taking the time to teach our children Scripture sets the precedent that God is the center of this day and His Word is precious. That's why Scripture tells us, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Not only are we entrusted to teach our children Scripture, but His Word is to be on our lips continually. I often fail to do this, but without daily devotions with my husband, I fear that I'd speak of God's statutes much less than I do now. Still, because we study Scripture together, we have developed a beautiful unity in how we speak of God and view Him as our Lord. Because of our time in God's Word together, we are more prone to speak of God as we sit in our house, go for walks, lie down to sleep, and rise. The more we study God's Word together, the more we are compelled to praise Him and treasure His Word.

Beyond this beauty, family devotions also make us wise for salvation. Though our children won't enter the world as believers, and we lack the power to change hearts, we have hope that they can be saved as we read them the Scriptures. This is the message Paul gives to Timothy as he says, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Apart from the Scriptures no one can be saved as "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17).

Scripture also granted Timothy a foundation for the rest of His life – he was to continue in what he learned in his childhood. He had a sound pattern of teaching to follow that was introduced to him when he was young. When we teach our children the Scripture, we bless them with wisdom that isn't from their fallible parents but from God Himself. They will see us err and be able to point to our sins, but they can never truthfully accuse Scripture of wrong. Instead, they can trust the Word that saved them and continue in what they know from Scripture.

Through family devotions, our children can also know God as a Father more deeply. They will receive an understanding of the heavenly Father who is above them. And as we teach them of this Father, we will be far more prone to imitate Him as earthly parents. With joy, we can receive these words: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

Our children need a reminder of God's discipline and instruction apart from the times they disobey, and we need a reminder of God's patience apart from the times we are tempted to provoke them to anger. Our Father doesn't only instruct us when we fall to sin; He does it every second of the day. While we are tempted to provoke our children to anger, we can point them to a God who is never given to sin. He disciplines and instructs His children in perfect love. If we learned of God's kindness together in daily family devotions, how much less would we be tempted to the sins of proking and disobedience?

As our Father, God also desires that family devotions display His love. That is why He came into the world, and that is why he instructs a husband to lead his wife. This is a grace for the whole family. As a husband washes his wife with the Word, he shows his family Christ's love for His Church. So husbands are instructed, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27).

This is a pattern for all Christain families to follow. A husband should lead His wife, continually washing her with the Word. What a comforting picture of the Gospel this gives to children. While our children may not naturally desire to be a part of family devotions, I think they'd be significantly more prone to listen in if they saw the love it fosters between their parents. Before they can understand the Gospel, they can see a picture of it in the marriage of their father and mother as their father lovingly leads their mother in teaching her the Word.

May Christ's body nourish its members by filling itself with the Bread of Life. May our children come to know the Lord we love because they know the Scripture. May they follow His instruction because they learned it from their parents. And may they lead their lives with love because their father led them with the love of Christ.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

Psalm 119:105


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