This Just In… Family Devotions are Not the Answer.

Maybe we’ve been telling people the wrong answer to success at home all along.  Wouldn’t it be just like Americans to over-categorize our answer to the most pressing problem in our culture?

Deuteronomy 6 is an oft-quoted verse by many pro-family speakers – including myself.  However, I must admit that we all might have taken some of these words a bit off the path of their original destination.

Verses six through nine of this dynamic chapter challenge the families of Israel as to how the wonderful book of the law should be used: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  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.”(NKJV)  In other words, the Word of God should be taught at all times!

Now, here’s where most of us take a bit of a wrong turn.  I can almost hear myself tell a group of families, “Now, don’t you see?  God is making it clear that we should have a specific time of family devotions every day in our homes!  If it’s that important, shouldn’t we set aside a time every day to spend as a family in the Word?”  While the PROMISE of that statement will always be very positive for any family, the PREMISE of it is not the content of those key verses of Scripture.

Let’s look back at the command again – I think you’ll see that there’s more here than simply what we might view as “Family Devotions” – a brief time daily or weekly where parents and children gather and dive into God’s Word – that can only be a part of the story here.  It seems more clear that in fact God is commanding us to make every part of our lives a family devotion – an opportunity to teach and remember the eternal elements in the mundane, day-to-day things of life!

Realizing the breadth of this challenge to families should in no way negate the important need for a structured devotion time.  That time “when you sit in your house” is still and will always be a key component in handing off your faith to your children.  It simply is not, however, the only time to work toward this eternal goal.

Isn’t it always just like God to come up with something simpler, yet far more effective, than anything we can come up with on our own?  When the Scripture says to “teach them diligently to your children,” I have a vivid picture of the commandments of our Lord being the relevant topic of conversation from sunup to sundown – no matter what activities lie in between.  I don’t know about you, but this really gets the creative juices flowing!  I can imagine a hundred mundane activities suddenly coming alive with spiritual truth with just a little fun and some relevant spiritual application!

I could name for you by memory at least twenty solid family devotion books to get you started with a specific, set-aside devotion time (if you don’t do this, you should.  It sure beats television when it comes to raising kids.)  On the other hand, how many resources do you come across for the other 23 ¾ hours in the day?  Fortunately, many more than there were even five years ago – but not near enough for me to be satisfied!  Lana and I have prayed about this very topic, and believe that there are a few simple steps that any family can take to be well on the way to moving from regular family devotions to what we have called “devotions in motion” – learning to take advantage of regular activities in order to teach spiritual things.

You may be saying, “Ryan, you don’t understand!  We lead the most boring existence on the planet!  There is no way to tie in our average day to spiritual things – much less draw some powerful nugget to assist us in our walk with the Father.”  If you’re one of those doubters, lets look together at your schedule for some potential life changing events that you may already be doing on a daily or weekly basis.  Do you or your children:

–         Brush your teeth?

–         Do laundry?

–         Wash dishes?

–         Drive in the car?

–         Work in your yard?

–         Make your bed?

–         Eat snacks or meals?

–         Eat out at restaurants?

–         Listen to music?

–         Answer the phone?

–         Bathe?

–         Play Board games?

–         Do puzzles?

–         Go to school?

Every one of those activities applies to Deuteronomy 6 – and so they all offer opportunities for conversation about God, object lessons about biblical principles, or just developing a stronger connection with the ones you love.

Life is full of WONDERFUL opportunities to share the Word of Truth to one another – really putting Deuteronomy 6 into practice!

As you go about your day today, consider all of the opportunities for devotions with your children… not from a book, but from your life.  After all, it is how you live out the Truths of God that will ultimately be what is written on their hearts.

One Response to “This Just In… Family Devotions are Not the Answer.”

  1. Sarah Stewart October 25, 2010 at 8:23 pm #


    Thank you for this….as you have stated, most families might not delve into the Word at every given opportunity. Yet, my father and mother led us this way, and it is the only reason, as a single woman, I can still gain wisdom from my dad and mom and discernment about life decisions.

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