How do we, as parents, help our children develop a daily devotional time? As a homeschool mom, my number one priority is to help my children develop a relationship with God. In order to accomplish this, I need to teach my children how to develop a daily devotional time in the Word of God.
What is devotional time?
The term “devotional time” might be familiar to you, but if you aren’t sure what it means. Daily devotional time is a time set aside each day to devote to the Lord through reading the Bible, prayer, and meditation. It is helpful to develop a format and routine to this time. Devotional time builds a closer relationship with God by getting to know Him through the Word and talking to Him through prayer.
Developing Devotional Habits
I did not grow up in a Christian home with a devotional time. Therefore, I did not develop a daily devotional time until after I came to know the Lord as an adult. It was difficult for me to be consistent with my daily time with God. Even now, I go through periods of time when it is really hard to be consistently in the Word of God daily. I want my children to develop a daily habit now to benefit them throughout their lives
Like many other things, the habits skills we learn as a child are much easier to carry into adulthood. This is true for learning to play an instrument, healthy eating, exercise, study habits and also true for daily devotional habits. Developing a daily devotional time with your children will benefit them their entire lives. Today I am going to give you practical tips about how to help children develop a daily devotional time that will last a lifetime. These tips also work great for adults too!
Develop a Daily Devotional Time
Start with Proverbs
In my own personal journey to develop a devotional time, I have tried many different methods. Some of these methods include devotional books, reading through the Bible in a year, topical studies, and journals. I have found starting out simple is the most effective method. Simple equals success when it comes to developing a habit. Simply start out with the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is a book about wisdom, filled with practical lessons that children can relate to.
There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs. One chapter for every day of the month. For example, on the first day of the month read Proverbs 1. On the second day of the month, read Proverbs 2, and so on. If there are less than 31 days in the month, you can either skip Proverbs 31 or read it the day before of after.
What happens when you miss a day?
When you are first beginning to develop the daily devotional habit, you may miss a day or two, here or there. Do not fall into the perfectionist trap. Do not give up or feel like a failure. There are three approaches to keep going after a missed day.
- Skip the proverb that you missed. Let’s say you missed the 5th day of the month and therefore did not read Proverbs 5. On the 6th day of the month, read chapter 6. Do not go back and read Proverbs 5. This approach works best if you plan on reading the book of proverbs month after month. You will catch Proverbs 5 next month and possibly miss a different chapter.
This approach helps you not become overwhelmed if you miss several days and are trying to catch up. It also helps you know exactly what chapter to read according to the day of the month.
- The second approach is the method we practice. Simply pick up with the next proverb, even if the days do not match up. For example, let’s say you missed the 5th day of the month, therefore you missed Proverbs 5. On the 6th day of the month, read Proverbs 5.
The disadvantage is that unless you write down what you have read or use a bookmark, you may forget what Proverb you are supposed to read for the day.
The advantage is you read the entire book of proverbs. Since we do our quiet time at the beginning of our homeschool day, we miss Saturday and Sunday together. Since my children are still developing the quiet time habit, they don’t always have quiet time on the weekends.
- The third approach is to read double. You missed the 5th day, so on the 6th day, you read Proverbs chapter 5 and 6. If you only miss one day, this is a great method to use. If you miss several days, you can become overwhelmed and discouraged trying to catch up on your reading and therefore read just to catch up and miss the lessons of the Proverbs.
Proverbs is a Proven Method
I heard about this method from my former pastor. He faithfully read a Proverb every day. I thought it sounded like a great idea but did not try it until I started using the “It’s Personal Journal” You can read about that journal here. This journal also suggests reading a proverb a day and gives space to note any insight, conviction or application you found in the chapter. I have been reading through the book of Proverbs monthly for a long time and I learn something new each time I read them.
More tips to Develop a Devotional Time with Children
Treasure Hunt through Proverbs
The book of Proverbs is full of treasures. Within the first nine chapters, two phrases are used 17 times to teach lessons. In the KJV the two phrases are “My son” and “Hear ye little children” Each day ask your child to search for these two phrases and then talk about what the lesson is. My children love searching for the phrases and telling me what they think the lesson is.
There are also so many practical metaphors that children can picture in their minds. Chose one and discuss how the physical example illustrates the spiritual lesson of the metaphor. My boys particularly like Proverbs 30:33 “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.”
A wonderful tool to enhance your study of the Book of Proverbs is a DVD set by Solve Family Problems called Picture Proverbs. I have been using this resource with my children since they were toddlers. According to S.M. Davis, the pastor who created the DVD, “Picture Proverbs is a “commentary” on the book of Proverbs that children can “read” and understand. It is designed to hold the attention of little children while challenging the thinking of adults.
The verse appears on the left-hand side of the screen and a picture to communicate the meaning of the verse appears on the right-hand side. It is narrated along with beautiful music playing in the background and sound effects that go with the pictures. You hear the lions roar, eagles cry, fire burning, etc.”
How to use Picture Proverbs
The DVD is divided into chapters corresponding with the chapters of Proverbs. After we have read the Proverb of the day. We watch the chapter on the DVD. Your children will be mesmerized by Picture Proverbs. My children often ask me to watch more than one Proverb. Sometimes, I let them, but usually, we only watch the Proverb that corresponds to the Proverb we read for the day. It helps us visualize the Bible.
My favorite part of the Picture Proverbs is how many of the pictures have a Bible story reference written on them. Therefore, you can reference the Bible for further examples of the Proverb’s lesson. We have paused the video and discussed the story and understood the meaning of the Proverb better with the example given.
In our homeschool, we have always studied the Bible together. After all, that is the main reason we homeschool, to teach our children about the God of the Bible. As my children get older, it is time for them to develop a personal devotional time with the Lord. I hope I motivate you to use the book of Proverbs to help your children develop a personal devotion time.