By Desi Zacharias
When I first became a mom, I had so many dreams and plans for exactly how life would go. Except, life doesn’t go exactly as we plan it, does it?
I distinctly remember organizing every detail about how our family devotional times would go. I was determined to have all of my materials carefully prepared and ready to go every evening after I finished cleaning up my elaborate—made from scratch—dinner.
We were going to sit down together as a family in our neat and tidy family room. My sweet and innocent toddler was going to be ready to listen quietly and obediently. I was going to speak so intelligently that I’d capture and hold her full attention for as long as I wanted. Our family devotionals would be Instagram-worthy before Instagram was even a thing.
Not a single one of our family devotional times has ever looked like that.
The reality is that my meals are not always homemade, my house is rarely tidy, and I am often in tears before my husband even makes it home from work.
Life with little ones is often demanding, messy, and overwhelming.Life with little ones is often demanding, messy, and overwhelming. Here's a family devotional strategy that will help you teach your kids to love Jesus.
Family Devotional Time is NOT a Performance to Perfect
After every failed attempt to become the perfect mom, I would feel drained, sad, and anxious. I thought for sure the LORD was disappointed in me.
The voice of inadequacy in my head seemed to be constantly whispering words of condemnation and pointing its finger at me.
In my prayer time, I pleaded with the LORD to make me a better mom capable of accomplishing more. In His mercy, the LORD led me to Deuteronomy 6:5-7 HCSB:
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Through this passage, the LORD reminded me that our family devotional time was not a performance to perfect. It was not a qualifying mark to prove that I was a good mom.
The LORD gently and lovingly led me into repentance for thinking that it was my responsibility to put a new heart and a new spirit within my children (Ezek 36:26 HCSB), by teaching me that this is a divine gift that only the LORD can give!
Through the years, the LORD has continued to work on my heart, reminding me that our family devotional time is more than a time of day—it is a way of life.
Our family devotional time is an opportunity to position our hearts to acknowledge who God is. It is an opportunity to glorify and praise His name. It is a genuine longing to be restored to a right relationship with Him together as a family.
Our family devotional time is the time and space that where the LORD inspires awe and wonder within us.
It is the foundation for which we base our thoughts, our words, and our actions. It is the lens through which we see the world. It is the filter to which we make our decisions on how to respond to our culture.
I don’t need to be a mom capable of accomplishing more; I need to be a mom willing to make room for the Lord to accomplish more.I don’t need to be a mom capable of accomplishing more; I need to be a mom willing to make room for the Lord to accomplish more.
7 Family Devotional Challenges from Deuteronomy
My children are now 13, 11, 9, and 7 years old. The places and times of our sweetest and most meaningful conversations about the LORD (a.k.a family devotional times) look completely different than I ever imagined or planned.
But God! His ways are always wiser; His ways are always better.
God’s plans for my life are so much grander than mine, even when they don’t seem grand to me in the moment or grand to the world at all.
His ways and His thoughts are always high above mine (Is 55:9 HCSB).
If, like me, you’ve found yourself struggling to create meaningful family devotional times with those entrusted to your care, perhaps give the LORD room to speak hope into your life with the words found in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 HCSB:
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Surrender your own heart to the awe and wonder of God. Awe and wonder can inspire us to want to know Him and love Him more. It can awaken our hope and affirm our purpose. Many things can trigger awe and wonder, but there is no greater awe-inspiring act than the work of Jesus on the cross. God’s plan of redemption is intriguing and beautiful (Ps 66:5). Ask the LORD to first inspire awe and wonder in your own heart.
- Let these words be in your heart and repeat them to your children.
Keep Jesus at the center of all things (Col 1:16-17). The more we experience and understand the goodness of Jesus, the more we are compelled to share the goodness of Jesus. Ask the LORD to help you keep your eyes focused on His goodness and His grace.The more we experience and understand the goodness of Jesus, the more we are compelled to share the goodness of Jesus.
- Talk about Jesus while you sit together.
Cultivate genuine conversations centered on Jesus with thought-provoking questions. Listen and pray more than you speak. When your kids share their hearts with you on any topic, challenge them to consider what God has to say about the subject. Search for answers in God’s Word together. Resist the urge to feed them answers. Ask the LORD to help you teach them how to find wisdom (Prov 8:11) and instruction in His Word for themselves.
- Talk about Jesus while you walk along the road.
Create safe places for your children to speak from the heart. Some of the most profound and most meaningful conversations about Jesus occur in those mundane in-between moments of life when my kids relax and open up their hearts. Ask the LORD to include you in expressing the depths of His unconditional love (Eph 3:17-18) with mercy and compassion.
- Talk about Jesus in the evenings.
Be willing to share a truth or an experience that the LORD has recently shared with you. When you are vulnerable and genuine in your awe and wonder of the LORD, it will be intriguing to your kids. Open the Word of God together. Read Bible stories that draw them in. Find a devotional book that they love and begin to crave. Surrender your agenda and ask the LORD to teach you and lead you in the way you should go (Is 48:17).When your kids share their hearts with you on any topic, challenge them to consider what God has to say about the subject.
- Talk about Jesus in the mornings.
Share your hopes and your challenges for the day together. In everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and then ask the LORD to guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).
- Remind yourself that you are not their Savior; Jesus is!
Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 22:13), the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature (Heb 1:3), the Author and Perfector of our Faith (Heb 12:2), our Rock (1 Cor 10:4), our Redeemer (Job 19:25), our Savior (Luke 2:11), and our Risen Lord (1 Cor 15:3-4). Ask the LORD to help you faithfully and consistently teach your children about His character and His purpose for their lives.
Remember to Point Your Kids to Jesus!
We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). But there is Good News—and His name is Jesus.
At every twist and turn, at every high and low, remember to point your kids to Jesus. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
May you and all those entrusted in your care grow together in awe and wonder of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Desi Zacharias is a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, called to study and share God’s Word to illuminate and inspire hope. She is wife to Mark and mama to Ava, Isaac, Lewis, and Luke. She spends most of her time shuttling her crew from sport to sport and cheering them on.