This is a topic near and dear to my heart and I want to share some of the great resources I've found and I'm looking forward to hearing about others.
I'm embarassed to admit that family devotionals are kind of new around our house. My husband is a pastor and we've been committed all along to teaching our children about the Lord. I teach 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school and a Scripture memory and catechism class on Wednesdays. Our kids also take Community Bible Study with me, so they have weekly assignments Sep-April that they keep up with in addition to our church classes and Bible memory. We often sing hymmns and pray together at home, but the idea of formal family devotion and worship time is fairly new to us.
I read the Duggars' book in December, Twenty and Counting, and came away convinced that if they can pull-off reading Proverbs in the morning at breakfast, character-training during their homeschool day and family worship at night that anyone can do it no matter their family size.
Here's what I've found:
1. A sweet friend of mine and my kids' art teacher has illustrated a children's booklet on the attributes of God entitled The Royal Attributes of God (it's in both English and Chinese). It covers 30 attributes, so it can be completed nicely in a month. Each attribute has a short definition right underneath it and then several lines describing it in children's terms and finishes up with 1-3 verses at the bottom of the page. In the background of the attributes are our friend's beautiful water color illustrations. Since it is in Chinese and English, the water colors are remniscent of Chinese art and scenery. You can cover one attribute per day in about 2-3 minutes. Let me know if you'd like to buy this book. I can get them from our friend.
2. Wisdom and the Millers: Proverbs for Children by Mildred A. Martin. I first tried reading through Proverbs with my kids- one per day. Mathew Henry, in A Church in the House, suggests the frequent reading of Psalms and Proverbs during family worship time, and the Duggar's read Proverbs, so this seemed like the obvious place to start. I became frustrated after a few months, though, when our kids still didn't seem to remember the lessons from month to month or really even follow what was going on. Somehow, by the grace of God, I stumbled upon this wonderful book. My kids love it and look forward to our readings! The book teaches 25 lessons or character qualities from the Proverbs through "listening in on" the Miller's family devotions and their wonderful illustrations from family life. I cannot stress how much I love this book and how grateful I am for it! Other Miller books include Prudence and the Millers, Missionary Stories with the Millers, and School Days with the Millers. I haven't bought these, yet, but am looking forward to it. Workbooks are also available for some of their books, but we don't use them. One lesson with Q&A time can be completed in around 15 minutes.
3. Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce A. Ware: I really like the concept behind this book, but I'm not sure how practical it's going to be for our family devotions right now. If this book were to be used by the parent as a teaching aid on how to talk to their kids about complicated doctrines, it would be very helpful. When trying to use it as a devotion, we had to stop every few minutes and refocus the attention of wandering minds. The book covers doctrines such as the total depravity of man, the dual nature of Christ as God and man, our union with Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God's general and specific revelation, salvation by grace, substitionary atonement, Christ's relationship to the church, etc.
4. Truth and Grace Memory Books edited by Thomas K. Ascol. These are the booklets we use in our Wed night church children's class. Actually we're using volume 1 for elementary age kids. It has many wonderful memory passages including the Romans Road, entire Psalms including 23, 8, 100, 19, and the first 40 verses of 119. The verses are organized according to age/ability, but this isn't too practical if you're working with kids of varying ages. We just work together in class and I try to reinforce those same verses at home. Also included is a children's catechism. It consists of 135 questions and answers that teach doctrine and includes the full versions of the 10 commandments with explanations as well as the Lord's prayer, petition by petition, with explanations. Great hymns are also taught. We've used it for about 3 years at our church and can see the effect it's having on our kids. It's awesome! Volumes 2 and 3 have longer, more difficult passages and are designed for older, more mature kids. It's the Bible, so you never outgrow it! I've loved every minute of my time in volume 1.
What devotionals have you and your family enjoyed using? I'm anxious to learn of other books we can try, so please share.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.