Is Lockdown Releasing Your Family to Practice Family Worship?
We have all complained that we don’t have enough time for family devotions with our children. Parents, ask yourself this: how can you make the most of this time?
I’ve found that many Christ-following parents simply aren’t sure how to disciple their children. We approach the responsibility of parenting with fear and trembling and with good reason! We’re scared. We don’t know how.
As parents, we worry about talking too much about Christ and pushing our children away from Him. In my years as a youth pastor, I have found that 99.5% of parents don’t talk too much about God with their children, but not enough.
Deuteronomy 6 provides some points on how to live out our faith in this way.
First, Moses records the greatest commandment: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). Immediately following this statement, the Lord commands his people to teach His words to their children.
As modern parents we teach our kids many things: how to dress themselves, how to eat healthy, how to be polite. We want to instill in our children the drive to excel in academics, life, and career. Most students are reading Shakespeare and on their way to upper level math–why can’t they also learn deep Biblical truths from you?
Our spiritual life and knowledge of God is the most important thing about us. It’s different from academic, extracurricular or career success–the idols of our age–but eternally significant.
Personally, my wife and I have done some catechesis with our six-year-old daughter for the last year on and off. She has loved it! When we end one of our brief sessions, she usually begs to keep going! She’s developing a formal understanding of biblical truths and perhaps more importantly, a thirst for them.
We also have regularly read stories from the Bible to our two oldest (they’re five and nearly seven now). Currently, for home-schooling my wife going through 2 Kings with our two oldest. Overall, they have really been enjoying it. My wife and I think starting at a young age is so critical. My wife has gone through Exodus, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Mark and Acts with our six-year old. Our daughter will often bring me or my wife a Bible, asking us to read a story to her for the nap or bedtime storytime.
Concerning these commandments, the author of Deuteronomy encourages parents to “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” (Deut. 6:7).
We have to talk to our children about spiritual matters. When? All the time, says this verse. This is intentional. If we aren’t talking to our children you can sure bet the world is, through their teachers, their friends, through advertisements and social media.
Talking to your children can seem such a scary thing to parents, especially about spiritual things. But we must. Isn’t this all about relationship anyway?
We’ve seen our talk really influence our kids in a few ways. As a family we pray regularly for several missionaries we support. Our kids know them by name and will at different times ask us to pray for them. At Christmas they get extremely excited about picking out gifts to send to missionaries and persecuted believers (check out the Voice of the Martyrs or HeartCry Ministries).
It is amazing to hear your four-year-old pray for a Nepali missionary half-way around the world! The latest “career” my son wants to pursue is being an astronaut preacher-missionary–how cool is that?
Moses also wants God’s people to have focus and intentionality about talking and teaching these things: “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” (Deut. 6:8-9). In other words, place these things always before you. We must always be relating life back to the scriptures, the gospel, and our relationship with God.
One of the biggest issues I have seen in my work as a youth pastor is the need for students to see how the gospel and the Word relate to everyday life. How does God’s omniscience and goodness relate to my future schooling and career? What does the Bible say about relationships?
We must keep the gospel and spiritual matters at the forefront of our relationship with our children.
But the Lord knew that we would forget! So He challenges us: when all these good things happen to you into the promised land and the Lord blesses you (my paraphrase), “then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear” (Deut. 6:12-13).
In other words–remember what the Lord has done for you. Remember the gospel. Remember His saving power, His deliverance and His redemption. Remember who He is.
When we remember who the Lord is and what He has done for us, prioritizing teaching and talking to our children about the gospel makes sense. How can a convict forget the date he was set free? How can a slave forget the man who emancipated him? How can a child forget his father? A bride her husband?
Teach. Talk. Focus. Remember. These are gospel words that we can participate in with our children. This means as parents, we remind ourselves of the gospel. We cannot change or save our kids. But as beggars, ourselves we can point to the Bread of Life.
Will you look back on this time and say: “I’ve wasted it… again?” Or can you be present with your children and be open to what the Spirit might have for your family?
During this pandemic, when the world we knew is in chaos, we can practice resting in his grace. One easy way of doing that is talking about him with intention in everyday conversations with our children.
Here are some suggested resources:
- Everything A Child Should Know, Taylor and Brake
- Everyone A Child Should Know, Heath-Whyte and Brake
- New City Catechism
- Shepherding Your Child’s Heart, Tripp
- Christian Beliefs, Grudem
- The Big Picture Story Bible, Helm
- The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
- The Ology, Machowski