Family devotions. Probably two of the scariest words that the average church-going man with children can hear. First there is the feeling of the Holy Spirit's prodding; the, this is a good thing worth pursuing, thought that you know didn't come from your own mind. Then there is the overwhelming realization that you have no clue where to start, the possibility for it to be terribly awkward, and uncertainty as to how your family will take this new-found initiative. These generally combine with the overall busyness of our lives to produce inaction. Which leads to our final product, guilt.
Sound familiar? It does to me. I have no heroic story of overcoming my folly. I simply have a wife who finally asked me when we were going to start doing family devotions, and about a week of doing them under our belts. There have been no deep conversations or children getting saved (my daughter is not yet one!). But I do have a few thoughts as to why this is worth it, and some suggestions that might encourage you to give this a go.
If you are a Christian, relating to God together should be your top family priority.
This may seem simplistic. Think about it, though. Every other thing that is important to your family, be it sports, art, education, etc; demands your time, attention, and conversation. This means that if worshipping God matters to us, it behooves us to worship Him together. Christianity is an inherently corporate religion, and the closest of those connections should be with those in our family. A set aside time is a major step towards this.
Looking to God together brings us closer together in other areas.
There are few things harder for me than to speak with others about that my relationship with God. I realize this bespeaks a spiritual immaturity on my part. I am convinced, though, that the solution is to push through it and speak even when it discomforts me. This has to start with my family. And if I learn to honestly communicate with my family about those things which are ultimately important, how much easier will communication in other areas become?
It doesn't have to be complicated.
I have always imagined family devos being some great and elaborate time of Scripture reading, followed by insightful exegesis by dad, a deep shared time of prayer, and perhaps some singing. Maybe for some families it is, but that is a pretty overwhelming idea to me. Little did I know how meaningful a two minute devotional reading followed by a chapter or so from the Bible and a short prayer can be. I guess my wife didn't expect a church service every night.
Totally baffled as to where to start? Just go to YouVersion and pick a devotional to go through. It's free, it's easy, and they track your progress for you. This isn't rocket science.
It isn't about you.
The idea of family devotions has totally scared the crap out of me because I know how insufficient I am. And if there is anyone else familiar with my failings, it is my wife. Soon enough my daughter will see them, too. But you know what? Family devotions aren't about me being awesome or trying to convince my family that I'm spiritual and smart. They are about me taking my family, all of us sinners, before the throne of grace. When we open God's word or approach Him in prayer or song, we should all see how small and unworthy we are. We all need His grace; grace which He freely gives to those who seek it.
This is what I desire for my family. And this is why it's worth getting past my apprehensions and insecurities; worth moving beyond my shame of past failure, to lead my family before our God. I would encourage you to do the same.