The #1 question I hear from parents when we travel to homeschool conventions isn’t about homeschooling at all. In fact, the thing that everyone wants to know is… do you have any tips or tricks for devotions for kids?
What they are really asking is how can I help my children foster their OWN faith? How can I encourage them to cultivate a habit of spending time with the Lord?
In a society where more than 66% of young people are walking away from the church, we want to know the answer. No, we NEED to know that answer. Their very lives depend on it.
I absolutely love talking about this subject. Not because I am a perfect parent or claim to know all of the great theological answers in life, but because I personally overcame that 66% statistic and I love sharing my story with parents.
Despite growing up in the church (sitting in the pews three times a week and attending nearly every function), by late high school I had little to do with Christianity. In fact, I spent nearly 10 years completely doing my own thing with little regard for what God thought about it.
My desperation to fill that God-sized hole in my heart drove me to poor decisions that ended in an abusive relationship, a broken family, and shattered dreams.
That’s why this topic is so dear to my heart. I don’t want my kids to walk that same path. I don’t want ANYONE’S kids to become the same statistic that I became. So I must share the secret with anyone I meet.
The big secret to devotions for kids
The one thing that will keep our kids from becoming a statistic and walking away from the faith ===> God’s Word.
No, I don’t mean we need a few more Bibles holding up the other books on the shelf. I mean that if we want our kids to have authentic faith, they will need to develop THEIR OWN love for His Word. They will need THEIR OWN daily habit of spending time in it. Period. There’s no other way to own your faith.
Not really such a big secret, huh? But think about it. Kids who walk away from the faith do so because they never made it their own. It was always something that someone else wanted them to do. We sometimes miss this in kids like me–the pleaser.
As long as I did everything right on the outside, that’s all anyone really cared about. No one knew that I had no real faith of my own. Honestly, I didn’t even know. I just did what I thought would make me look good on the outside to make others in my life happy or proud.
The only way to keep this from happening is to help kids know God’s truth in a way that changes them. We need to give them the tools they must have to develop a daily quiet time they actually WANT to have.
So today, I’d like to share with you my tips and tricks for helping your kids develop authentic faith through devotions.
Devotions for kids: 3 things every child should be taught
1. A daily devotion is not an obligation, nor does it bear guilt.
Nothing will squelch your desire for the Lord faster than a bunch of rules and regulations. We are not obligated to God. He doesn’t force a relationship with us.
So often kids growing up in church are taught “good Christians have a devotion time in the morning.” They are told devotions are the right thing to do.
I’m not saying that’s wrong, I’m saying it’s not enough. Kids should be taught that spending time with God is a privilege we should enjoy. He wants us to desire this relationship with Him–that’s true salvation. Nothing else. Which brings me to my next point.
2. If I love the Lord with all my heart, I will WANT to spend time with Him.
Pardon me while I step on your toes in love. But it really is true. If we love the Lord, He is the first priority in our lives and in our day. Not food, sleep, family, friends, jobs, or whatever else we let get in the way.
Trust me, I know how difficult it is to shuffle the daily tasks and make them all fit in the box of a 24-hour day, but if we truly understand the breadth of what Jesus has done for us, how can we not want to be with Him more than anything else?
In my own life, I have often found that I don’t want to spend time with God when I become wrapped up in something other than Him. Christianity is a heart (not a head) relationship. We cannot afford for our kids to miss that truth.
3. If the day doesn’t start with Jesus, it’s difficult to be on the right path.
Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek FIRST the kingdom of God. FIRST means before checking off the to-do list. If God is first, my agenda doesn’t come before Him.
But more important than that is Proverbs 3:5-6. You probably have this one memorized. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart… and He will…”
Can you finish it? That’s right–He will make your paths straight. One day I finally realized that my day was never EVER going to go the way I intended. There would always be distractions, unexpected drama, and possibly even pain.
I am not equipped to do this world without God. So how can I possibly go into the day without His guidance? The best possible gift we can give our kids is to help them understand this one thing.
Devotions for Kids: Practical Training
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for truths our kids must know about devotional time with God, it’s time to get into the step-by-step methods of training them.
Training the Little Ones
It will never be too early to develop a good habit. Believe me, I know it is hard to keep the attention span of those little guys and I know that the resources are limited. However, I think it is crucial to be modeling and practicing a personal time of devotion long before it becomes a habit that you need to keep up on your own.
Currently, in my house, I have my own personal quiet time before anyone gets up. As soon as my boys (ages four and seven) are awake, we have a short devotional time together. The format is very simple.
We say good morning to the Lord through a quick 1-2 sentence prayer. Then we read a short passage or complete an age-appropriate Bible study like Because I Said So Junior or Leading Little Ones to God.
We finish by each taking a turn to pray. Depending on attention span, this time generally lasts between 10-15 minutes.
It’s short and sweet but crucial to their development. This is the time when I have the opportunity to speak into their lives and point them to God’s truth as a solution to their wants, needs, and problems.
I really make an effort for this to happen as much as humanly possible because I know the days pass quickly and they will soon not put as much value on my teaching as they do now.
The middle ground: Family Devotion Time
The second component of our time in the Word is our family devotion time. The boys and I come together in the kitchen and meet up with my older girls (ages 13 and 14). The girls have completed their quiet times in their rooms (see more about this below).
We typically do this five days a week. The key to making this happen for our family was to stop being so legalistic about it. I found that if I dropped my expectations of the “perfect” family devotion, we were much more likely to do it.
Five minutes of time spent talking about God is better than zero. It’s a simple concept, but we often miss it. I used to aim for 20-30 minutes of devoted time only to fall flat every single time. Week after week I would try again and find that it just wouldn’t happen. Now, we simply take whatever time we can and it’s much more consistent.
We use our family devotion time to accomplish two things: discussion of what we have learned in our personal devotions, and family prayer. I don’t actually do a separate “devotion” during this time. This helps us have more time for quality discussion and prayer.
I love keeping a family prayer journal so we can always remember what God has done for us. It’s a blessing to look back on all of those answered prayers!
Often, each age group studies the same topic in our quiet time so the discussion is on the same topic, but it doesn’t have to be that way. (All of the Bible studies that I have written are designed for this type of set-up if desired.)
If you find your older kids have more in-depth things to say, perhaps allow the younger ones to be dismissed if their attention span has been maxed. The goal is not to keep them forever, it’s to plant the seed. This way we can still plant the seed without squelching the discussion of the older children.
Transitioning to Independent Quiet Time
Of course, there is no set age for when children should start taking ownership of their quiet time. I look for a few prerequisites. First, I think the child should be a strong reader and writer.
In my humble education-major opinion, I think that doesn’t happen for anyone before 3rd grade. There is simply too much skill-building and maturing going on, even if the child can sound out the words in The Chronicles of Narnia at age six.
The second thing I look for is a strong level of responsibility. In order to take control of their own quiet time, the child is going to need self-discipline. Are they completing chores without being asked? Taking ownership of school subjects? Coaching younger siblings? These are all great indicators.
The third factor should be spiritual maturity. Has the child professed a personal belief in Christ, been baptized, and/or shown an interest in deeper spiritual things? If not, I say wait on the quiet time and work on discipleship.
Remember, we aren’t looking for a fake faith here. We don’t want to just give them one more task to check off in order to please us.
If a child shows much of those three elements, it’s time to introduce them to devotions for kids on their own, but I think there is a RIGHT WAY to do it. Just remember, we are not going to just throw them the book and make it a new daily requirement. (Remember, this is NOT an obligation.)
Go slow. Teach them what to do. Show them what God’s Word says. Use some of the incredible tools available to help you!
Our Favorite Tools for Devotions for Kids
Anything we teach requires tools. Sometimes it’s simply the knowledge of the subject, other times it’s equipment like microscopes or dissection tools. Teaching your child to have a daily quiet time is no exception to this rule. There are many tools that will help you with this task. So let’s dive right in to some of my favorite devotions for kids tools!
Developing a Quiet Time
When our kids are ready to learn to have a devotional time, our focus should now be on helping them understand the need for a personal habit of spending time with God. They need to know why they would even want to do this, what God says about it, how it should be done or not done, and what it means for their lives.
Developing a Quiet Time is a 28-day study that walks kids through the process of learning to have a daily devotional time with God. They will learn what the Bible has to say about this topic, how a daily quiet time will affect life, and a simple way to spend time with God.
At the end of the study, kids have guided practice as they learn to take the reins on their own.
Action Study Bible
I know this goes without saying, but a Bible is critical for devotions for kids. If the Bible is not involved in our quiet time, something is missing. I’m not saying that all other books are bad. However, we live in a culture that is infiltrated with incredibly crafty false teaching.
How are we to know what is truth if we aren’t in the actual Bible every single day?
I teach my kids that it’s ok to use supplements. We just make sure to look up verses and compare the teaching to what is actually in the Bible. Most often, I use resources that challenge me to look up the verses myself. (By the way, that’s how all of the Bible studies on Not Consumed are written.)
I also want my kids to know that, in and of itself, the Bible is good enough to read. We don’t need anything else because this book is alive and active. Its truth is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. So we don’t have to believe that we won’t be able to comprehend it.
I have two favorites when it comes to Bibles for kids: The Action Study Bible ESV and the KJV Study Bible. We have both of these in our home and love the study helps and illustrations. Of course, there are many other options and translations out there, too.
My Time With God
There are four Bible study method templates in this journal. My Time with God is designed to be alternated and covers about three to five months of study depending on how many days of the week it is used. The passage you study is not listed. That is up to you. This journal is intended to be self-guided and completely flexible for your quiet time needs.
GROWS Quiet Time Cards
The GROWS devotional cards are designed to help you develop a deeper quiet time with God. Based on the GROWS formula developed in our Bible study, the set encourages users to: (G)reet the Lord, (R)ead the Word, (O)pen your heart for prayer, (W)orship in song, and memorize (S)cripture.
JOY Prayer Cards
A wonderful addition to any home, the JOY Prayer Cards are a complete set of 28 cards organized into four themes, each lasting for one week: my family, my community, my nation, and my world.
Each card emphasizes the JOY formula for praying: J-Jesus, O-others and Y-yourself. They come in a sturdy gift box that is perfect for daily use.
These super thick and high-quality cards encourage prayer through suggestions and Scripture. I have designed them specifically with multi-ages in mind. Parents can use the cards with young children, praying and reading through them as a family. As children get older, they have the freedom to use the cards to support their own prayer life.
Fun Writing Tools
One of our favorite ways to make devotions for kids FUN is with writing utensils. Boys and girls alike love to have fun things to write with. Whether it is colorful ink, a fluffy topper, or a barrel that lights up, do something fun with your pens.
We love these multi-colored journaling pens. Of course, you might also grab a cute cup or mug to store them in!
Bible Book Tabs
These Bible book tabs make me so happy. They are super fun for kids. My teenage girls asked if they could have a set because they are so cute. Ok, truth be told, I really want a set!
What’s not to love about cute jewelry to help you keep your mind focused on truth? We’ve got two favorites in our store.
This beautiful inspirational charm necklace features the familiar words to a beloved hymn: “Tune my heart to sing thy grace.” It makes a perfect gift for girls and ladies of all ages.
It’s not all feminine though! We’ve also got this super awesome BOLD dog tag. Every year at homeschool conventions these are quite popular among the boy shoppers. It features the word “BOLD” on the front and Joshua 1:9 (KJV) on the back.
Ideas for devotions for kids
I pray this post has been helpful for you and your family. What are your ideas or questions? Share them with us in the comments below!