God knows how important it is for families to have a devotional time together. He gave us these instructions about family devotion time in Deuteronomy 11:18-20:
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…” Deuteronomy 11:18-20 NIV.
He instructed us to add His Word to our daily schedule, not in one-hour chunks but infused in our regular conversations.
If your goal is a five-minute family devotion, expect it to take all day.
Let’s look at how this verse can help you with your devotions.
1 “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds.”
Memorising Bible verses can be fun for you and your child. Start small and at this age (under 5) do not expect them to repeat the entire verse. Encourage them to repeat after you. After speaking the verse many times, you will find your toddler will rush to finish the verse. Do not be over ambitious with this. If your little one can become familiar with two or three bible verses in the first year, you are both fantastic. Below is a YouTube video of how this process might look.
Shorten verses to make them easier for your child to learn. For example, Deuteronomy 6:5 is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”, but you might start your little one with “Love the Lord”.
Here are some verses to start with
- Genesis 1:1
- John 3:16
- Deuteronomy 6:5
- Psalm 145:9
- Ephesians 4:32
2 “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
This can be done in a few simple ways. You can create a bead necklace or bracelet with “Jesus loves me” or “Love God”.
These can provide physical reminders for you as well. When you notice the item, remind your toddler to look and repeat the phrase.
If you have an anxious toddler maybe each morning your write on their palm “Jesus is with you” or “Fear not” these will wash off throughout the day so you can do new ones each day.
3 “Talking about them when you sit at home.”
You will be the most substantial influence in your child’s spiritual journey. Add discussion about God to everyday routines.
4 “When you walk along the road.”
If you have a very busy toddler, it may be challenging to get more than a minute of devotions in at a time.
There are many ways to turn drive time into devotion time. Play children’s worship music or stories while in the car.
Resist the temptation to put a DVD in for short trips. Your child will learn more with audio and your participation than they will learn from a screen.
“When you lie down and when you get up.”
It is essential to start early by establishing good habits. Many families do devotions at bedtime. This works well with young children. Read a bible story, talk about it, and end with a prayer.
Another time you can use for devotions could be meal time, pick a meal where most members attend, most of the time. It can be easy to add a short verse, sing a worship song and say grace for your prayer.
You could also use bath time or during structured play time. Realistically you might want to have a daily plan for your devotions and sprinkle them throughout the day.
6 “Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Make the Bible as accessible as possible for your little one. Have them colour pages with the bible verses you are learning. Display God’s Word in prominent places in your home. You might place verses about God’s presence near their bed so you can remind them if they wake from a bad dream.
Well-placed verses about loving one another can be posted near the toys where fights often break out.
Your child may not yet know how to read, but they will begin to recognise the “shape” of certain words and be able to identify them.
Start with “God”, “Jesus”, “love”, “pray”.