Parenting is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart so I need Jesus to be invited into our day, into our attitudes and into my parenting.
With that, I’ve started a quest to find ways in which the kids and I can have devotions together. Finding devotionals for a range of kids can be hard, so I wanted to share our family’s favorites since we’ve been trying different ones over the past year.
Not only does having devotions together embark us on a journey of spiritual formation but it also uplifts our moods for the day. Granted, moods still get messed up but it’s so much easier to adjust our attitudes and behaviors when we can recall what we’re learning from God’s Word.
As Christian parents, our jobs are to steward the hearts of our children toward faith in Jesus.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” — Proverbs 22:6
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall 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.” — Deuteronomy 6:7
We believe that all these issues we deal with on a day-to-day basis, from hitting or screaming at one another to whining, complaining and throwing fits (for all of us, not just the kids) is a sin problem. It is only in reaching the hearts of our kiddos that they will experience transformation so that they are following God and obeying His commands, simply because they love Him.
We need to address this in a practical way. I’ve done my fair share of trying out different devotionals so that I may recommend the best ones for you today. Here are my top picks for gospel-centered devotionals for families (not Bibles!) designed to foster spiritual intrigue & growth in our kids.
Marty Machowski has quickly become my go-to author for gospel-centered devotionals for kids. Long Story Short is structured with 78 weeks of 5 devotions per week, all based on the Old Testament. They are short, 10 minutes in length, and truly engage both my 2 & 4 year olds. We really love these because each entry is doctrinally sound and points toward Jesus as our Savior.
It goes through major themes & lessons in the Bible by starting out engaging our kids’ imagination and priming them for learning with a story that they can imagine and participate in. Following this is a short Bible reading and discussion time which include answer prompts to help get you and them biblically sound learning. Finally, each day’s devotion time ends with praying about the things you’ve just learned.
Written by the same author as Long Story Short, this one focuses on the New Testament. It’s structured virtually the same so it has all the pros that the previous one did. Get both devotionals and you’ve got a power-house team for teaching your kids the entire Bible and that Jesus is seen throughout every passage of Scripture!
This one is really easy and very adaptable for kids of all ages. It’s structured in 6 categories of values, such as Authority, Relationships, Possessions, Work, Attitudes, and Choices. There are 4 values within each of these categories. Here are just a few examples:
- Our Family Way #1: We love and obey our Lord, Jesus Christ, with whole-hearted devotion.
- Our Family Way #8: We forgive one another, covering an offense with love when wronged or hurt.
- Our Family Way #11: We are generous with what we have, sharing freely with others.
- Our Family Way #16: We take personal responsibility to keep our home neat and clean at all times.
- Our Family Way #17: We choose to be joyful, even when we feel like complaining.
- Our Family Way #21: We do what we know is right, regardless of when others do or say.
Each value is worked on through 5 days each week, and a separate bible reading, questions to help discussion, & prompts for prayer that align with the value. There are also memory verses and a description of the character quality that each value instills as you work through the week. At the back of the book is a section of coloring pages and fill in the blank pages for each value. This is a very concise book for parents to help kids learn these truths from Scripture and why they are important to God.
This isn’t a devotional per se, but it is a great tool for helping school-aged children see that sin is serious. Each topic covered starts with an analogy of a situation where the child would have to decide what to do if they were in that situation.
At the end of each short story, there is a posed question for kids to answer, “What should he do?” followed by multiple choices. It encourages comprehension of the idea. It causes kids to stop and think, however some of the multiple choice answers are a bit over the top and obviously wouldn’t be right to us adults, to a kid they are really options that are played out.
Finally, there is a Bible passage to read followed by a short commentary of why the “best” choice is indeed the best. I’ve enjoyed reading the Bible portion before the story and question. Then after they answer the question, bringing it back to the Bible we previously read & reading the commentary portion to talk about how the story (i.e. life) intersects with Scripture.
This book is geared toward the 8-12 age group and while my kids are younger than that, and I agree that many of the scenarios covered in this book are over their heads, I have found some that my oldest does understand — like leaving someone out who wants to play with us. There is a second edition of this book as well, I have not looked at that one yet.
This is a Bible/Devotional combo in 2 volumes geared toward Preschoolers. At the end of every Bible reading is a section for singing songs to different tunes and many have actions involved. This is just a fun thing that get kids laughing and engaged in learning the story a new way.
There is also a section for crafts and activities to help reinforce the lesson they just learned. There are also suggestions on snacks, service projects, prayer, plays and finger puppets, full-body movement games, etc. These are great ways to be involved in the many facets of how young children learn.
I hope these suggestions get you started on having a devotional time with your kids, no matter what their ages, as you seek to train them in righteousness and introduce Jesus to them!
Holly currently lives in Nebraska with her amazing & godly husband, sweet & smart 4-year old daughter & joyful 2 year old son. She is a stay-at-home mom and writes at The Brown Tribe. You can follow along with Holly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram.